What are some of the risks of laser skin resurfacing?
Laser resurfacing is a great modality to improve skin texture, decrease wrinkles, tighten skin and remove discoloration and age spots. Potential risks of ablative laser resurfacing include prolonged redness, infections, acne, discoloration, and scarring. Proper pretreatment preparation and prophylaxis can minimize the risk of the potential complications. Prior to a resurfacing procedure it is important to take antiviral prophylaxis to prevent cold sores after the procedure. In addition antibiotics can be given before and after to prevent a bacterial infection. It is expected that after the procedure your skin will be red, swollen and itchy typically improving within 1-2 weeks. The degree of redness is related to depth and aggressiveness of the resurfacing procedure. On occasion this redness may persist longer, lasting several months. Good care following laser resurfacing is important in shortening the recovery period. Fair skinned patients have the lowest risk for complication of hyperpigmentation, darkening of the skin. To minimize this risk, patients are encouraged to stay out of the sun prior to laser resurfacing and are often pretreated with Retin A and hydroquinone, which is a skin lightening cream. There is also a slight potential risk of scarring, which is more common following an infection. It is important that you have an evaluation by a qualified facial plastic surgeon, dermatologist or plastic surgeon to properly assess your skin and what can safely be achieved.
-Dr. Jessica Kulak