What is the Recovery like After CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing?
Since the downtime with CO2 laser skin resurfacing is so dependent on your specific treatment and skin quality, Dr. Lewen will discuss a reasonable range of what you can expect for your downtime during your consultation. While you are healing after CO2 laser skin resurfacing, it is vital to follow your post-procedure instructions very closely. Due to the specific nature of these instructions, it is best to consider having this procedure done when you have a significant amount of time in your schedule to commit yourself to the healing process.
It is imperative to make sure that you are following all the steps required in order to facilitate your healing and to help you attain the best possible results from CO2 laser skin resurfacing. This starts right from the time of your initial consultation. After meeting with Dr. Lewen and discussing your treatment goals, he may recommend that your skin should be pre-treated for a few weeks with certain skin care products to prime your skin, and to ensure that you heal most effectively. Dr. Lewen and his office staff will construct a personalized skin care regimen for you with the details all laid out so it is easy to follow. Depending on your skin type, you will need to follow this skin care regimen for a period of about two to four weeks prior to moving forward with CO2 laser skin resurfacing.
While the procedure itself will usually only take an hour or less, you will likely have some downtime after the procedure. Redness and swelling in the treated area are expected and can last anywhere from a few days up to two to three weeks, depending on the extent of your treatment and your specific skin condition. During this initial part of the healing process, you will need to use ointment over the treated areas frequently, as well as ice, and other soaks. You will also be on a prophylactic oral antibiotic, an antiviral, and some other medications during this time period, and your body will require some additional rest. It is also very important that your skin is protected from the sun at all times during this stage of the healing process.
All of these directions will be described in detail in your post-procedure instruction packet that Dr. Lewen’s office staff will review with you. After the initial stage of healing is complete, many patients will quickly go back to their normal daily routines with a few easy adjustments.
What Should I Expect from CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing?
Pain tolerance among patients can vary considerably. However, Dr. Lewen and his staff routinely show careful consideration to individual patient sensitivities due to the delicate nature of the face. We are committed to helping ensure that your CO2 laser skin resurfacing procedure is as painless and easy as possible.
When this procedure is performed in combination with other eyelid or facial surgeries, it may be performed in an outpatient ambulatory surgery center. In these cases, IV sedation (twilight anesthesia) is typically administered for best patient comfort during the procedure. When performed in the office, Dr. Lewen may prescribe a short-acting anti-anxiety medication to be taken before the procedure for those patients who are more anxious. Numbing cream is also administered to the facial areas that will be treated, and allowed to work for about 20 to 30 minutes before it is removed.
Immediately prior to starting your CO2 laser skin resurfacing procedure, Dr. Lewen will also administer local anesthetic injections to the specific areas of your face that are being treated. During the procedure, many patients will describe that they can actually feel more heat from the laser as opposed to pain.
After the procedure is completed, the treated areas will feel similar to a sunburn, again with the feeling of heat described more commonly than pain. During your pre-procedure visit, you will receive Dr. Lewen’s detailed instructions for pre-and post-procedure care of your skin. Ice and a thick ointment, such as Aquaphor, will be applied to the treated areas of your face immediately following the procedure, and this will make the areas feel much more comfortable. Dr. Lewen will typically also prescribe pain medication for patients who need it in the first few days immediately following your procedure.