When it comes to any cosmetic treatment, from surgery to laser skin resurfacing, safety should always be your main concern. In the hand of a trained, experienced person, there’s a lot that can go right during surgery or a laser treatment. But in the hands of wrong person, there’s a lot that can go wrong, from results you didn’t expect to serious injury.
Before any laser skin-resurfacing treatment, it pays to find out as much as possible, not only about the person performing the treatment, but also about the treatment itself. A bit of research can pay off considerably in the end.
Choose Your Surgeon Carefully
During a laser treatment, such as Fraxel or Erbium, the person performing the treatment is directing a beam of intense light directly at your skin. While some laser treatments are less deep and less damaging than others, it’s still important to choose the practitioner with care.
Use the same criteria when picking a surgeon to perform laser skin-resurfacing as you would choosing a surgeon for a facelift or other procedure. Find out how many treatments the doctor has performed and the type of lasers he or she uses. If the treatment is administered by an aesthetician, learn about his or her training and experience and whether he or she is closely supervised by a surgeon. While everyone needs to start somewhere, it’s usually in your best interest to pick someone who’s been performing laser treatments for years, knows about the latest advances in lasers, and who you can rely on to help you choose the right laser for your skin and needs.
Reviews can be very helpful in this case. Ask for references and to see before and after pictures of past patients. Also check out the internet, which might have reviews from other patients, good or bad, about the treatment they received and about the doctor.
Just as you want to avoid bargain basement injection deals and steer clear of deals that seem too good to be true, you also want to be very wary of a center that’s offering steep discounts on laser skin-resurfacing. They might be doing that because of dissatisfied past patients or because the laser they are using are outdated.
Learn as Much as You Can About the Laser
Different lasers do different things. Some, such as the CO2 lasers, are ablative, meaning they destroy the top layer of skin cells, so that fresh skin can grow. The results from an carbon dioxide laser treatment can be impressive, but the trade-off is a lengthly recovery time. In some cases, recovery can take as long as four weeks. Your skin will be very red after treatment and can remain red for a considerable amount of time afterwards. There will be some pain and discomfort after the treatment, too.
The treatment process with a CO2 laser might also be more involved than with less in-depth, non-ablative lasers (which don’t destroy the skin). For example, some patients might find that going under general anesthesia before a treatment with a CO2 laser is the best option for them, since it means they will be completely out of it for the duration of the treatment. General anesthesia might be the most comfortable option during treatment, but it also increases the cost and can increase a patient’s risk for complications.
It’s also important to understand the number of treatments needed to get the results you are after. The amount of treatments you need depends in part on the type of laser you choose and on the type of results you want. If you only have mild signs of aging on your face, one or two superficial treatments might be enough to blast away very fine lines or very light areas of discoloration.
Finally, it’s important to know what laser is appropriate for your skin type. Some types of lasers might discolor the skin if you have a darker complexion. A surgeon experienced with laser skin-resurfacing will be able to direct you to the right treatment option not only for your aging concerns but also for your skin type.
Know How to Treat Your Skin Afterwards
Safety isn’t only important during your laser treatment. It’s essential afterwards, too. Helping the skin heal and protecting it after treatment is an important part of the process. After your treatment, your skin will be very fragile and very susceptible to damage from the sun. Most surgeons advise avoiding sun exposure for some time after a laser skin treatment. Once you can go out in the sun again, it’s advised that you take care to always use sunscreen and to avoid direct sun exposure when the sun’s rays are at their most intense.
Dr. Jessica Kulak, a specialist practicing at the Naderi Center in Virginia and Maryland, is as concerned for your safety as she is for helping you fight the signs of aging. She’s happy to help you when it comes to making a decision about laser skin resurfacing, from choosing the right laser to deciding on the number of treatments. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Kulak, call 703-481-0002 in Virginia or (301) 222-2020 in Maryland.