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Guide To Cosmetic Surgery - Laser Skin Treatment
Laser Skin Treatment
A great many people have skin problems such as acne, birthmarks, spider veins, lines and wrinkles. These are mainly as a result of the ageing process although external factors can play a part. Sun, wind, pollution, stress etc can all play havoc with our skin.
The question is how do we deal with skin damage? One such answer is laser skin treatment – also known as laser resurfacing.
This laser, which is known as Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy uses a laser beam to remove the top layer of the skin. This will remove these forms of skin damage and enable new skin to reform. This new layer of skin is both smoother and softer.
It is similar to other skin treatments such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion but even though the treatment is the same, it’s the method that’s different.
This laser beam can precisely target an area and only takes a few minutes. The more extensive the area to be treated the longer the procedure.
This can be performed on its own or in conjunction with other procedures such as eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty).
Suitability for this procedure
Most people are suitable for this procedure although there are a few exceptions.
If you are prone to facial infections, have a history of scarring or poor wound healing or are taking the drug ‘Accutane’ (acne medication) then laser skin treatment is not advisable.
It is also the case that people with dark or olive skins are not suitable as this treatment can pigmentation or an unwelcome lightening of their skin.
Other factors are age, your lifestyle, reasons for wanting this treatment and current state of health.
It has been found that the best patients are those who don’t smoke, are physically and mentally healthy and, have realistic expectations.
Preparing for treatment
Even though this is day surgery, it is still a good idea to get someone to drive you home afterwards. You will be having sedation with a local anaesthetic and this will make you feel tired after this treatment.
This is especially important if you are having this done with another procedure such as eyelid surgery. This may mean a general anaesthetic and an overnight stay in the clinic or hospital.
You will be given a list of instructions before your treatment. These are a set of do’s and don’ts which include what to expect on the day of your treatment and what you should do when you go home.
Please follow these to the letter. They may seem a bit strict but they are designed for your wellbeing and convenience.
The aim is to ensure that you are in the best physical and mental shape for your treatment. If you smoke then you will be advised to give this up (on a temporary basis) and abstaining from certain types of medication.
Again, you will be given advice about what types of medication you can and cannot take.
Even though this is a straightforward procedure it will require you to take time off work. Your face may be swollen and sore which can mean one to two weeks away from work.
If you are taking time off then it might be a good idea to ask your partner or someone else to give you a hand during your period of recovery.
Arrange all of this in advance so that it doesn’t become a last minute rush job!
The laser skin treatment
This is normally performed as day surgery and involves a local anaesthetic with sedation. Even though it is a day case it will be still be carried out in an operating theatre.
The procedure starts with your face being cleaned – which can take from a few minutes up to an hour and a half.
The laser treatment ranges from light or superficial skin level through medium level treatment to deep level resurfacing. The light and medium level treatments involve the top layer of skin or epidermis.
The deeper level treatment involves the layer of skin underneath which is called the ‘reticulas dermis’.
The level of treatment depends on what skin defect is to be removed. Superficial treatment may be sufficient for removing spots but deep level may be required for acne scars and deep wrinkles.
The best way of describing the effect of the laser beam is that of an elastic band pinging off your body!
This laser will remove the uppers layer of skin which enables a wrinkle free and smooth layer of skin.
The surgeon will advise you to use antibiotic ointment to prevent against infection and the best way of cleaning your face. This will need to be done gently, and several times a day for the next few days.
If there is any swelling then ice packs can help. You can either use special gel packs which are available from your local pharmacy or a pack of frozen vegetables.
There isn’t usually any pain but you will be given painkillers to control any pain or discomfort if it arises.
It’s a good idea to use a mild form of moisturiser such as aqueous cream to prevent your skin from drying out. Use a mild shampoo as well when washing your hair. Avoid sunbathing and if you do go out in the sun then wear a sun cream with a high sun protection factor.
This routine will have to be followed for a few weeks but your surgeon will be able to advise you about skin care.
Your face will be sensitive for a couple of weeks or until any crusting eases. This crusting or scabs will fall off to reveal new skin.
It can take up to 6 months for the scar tissue to completely heal.
You will be asked to attend a series of follow up visits or after care where your skin will be checked.
The benefits of laser skin treatment
The main benefit is a fresher, youthful looking you. The damaged or age affected layers of skin will have been removed to reveal a smooth and improved appearance.
This can rid you of those unwelcome wrinkles, lines and spots.
The risks of laser skin treatment
Every cosmetic procedure – surgical or otherwise has its side effects.
There are very few with this treatment but they can happen and are likely to be as follows:
- Redness, swelling and soreness
- Change in skin pigmentation
- Small risk of burning
- Can trigger a cold sore (activate the herpes virus)
If you notice any of these or any other untoward symptoms then contact your clinic.