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Laser facial resurfacing

Introduction

What is a laser?

A laser is a machine that emits a beam of high intensity light. There are many different kinds of lasers with different wavelength, colour and strength. Eye specialists have been using lasers for many years to treat the retina and to improve vision following cataract surgery. LASIK laser surgery is used to correct vision but Dr Lamb does not perform this surgery. 

Procedure

Dr Lamb uses a CO2 fractionated laser for skin resurfacing because the results are excellent and predictable. The latest fractionated CO2 leave most of the epidermis intact, allowing a faster recovery.  The laser penetrates the skin in a pattern of spikes, stimulating the deeper layers to produce new collagen, thus improving skin texture and reducing wrinkles. Laser emits an intense beam of light that vaporises skin and tissues instantaneously. Laser is incredibly precise that surrounding tissue is minimally affected.

What can laser be used for?

Laser treatment can be concentrated on eyelids or around the mouth, however the entire face can be resurfaced in one treatment.

Facilities

Dr Lamb has a dedicated operating theatre for cosmetic laser surgery. His staff include a specialist anaesthetist and two fully-trained theatre nurses. Other surgery such as brow elevation or lid surgery can be performed at the same time as the resurfacing. Photographs of previous patients are available to demonstrate post-operative results.

Preoperative Instructions

Local anaesthetic cream is suitable when small areas are being treated, however sedation is required for extensive, deeper, and more effective treatments.

Postoperative Instructions

For the first few days the skin will weep and may bleed a little. Depending on age, skin type etc., some redness may persist for a further week or two. Sun exposure must be completely avoided during this period. Sun block should be used for at least six weeks post-operatively and is recommended routinely to maintain the result. Antibiotics and anti-virals are required for the week following the procedure.

Risks

Although laser surgery is effective in most cases, no guarantee can be made that a specific patient will benefit from the treatment. Laser resurfacing causes the skin to become swollen, red, and this discomfort may last for several days. The resurfaced area will be kept moist with liberal coatings of ointment for several days.  The skin will improve over several days. In some patients the redness will persist for a longer period, up to three weeks.  Generally, laser resurfacing improves the skins texture, however a perfect result is never a realistic expectation.  Complications from laser resurfacing are uncommon, but sometimes occur. It is possible that this procedure will not help you. Several treatments may be necessary before adequate results can be obtained. If the procedure is successful initially, it is possible the results may not be permanent.

Some of the possible complications of laser resurfacing are:

  • Pain – A local anaesthetic and sedation is used to block pain during the treatment. There may be some discomfort for the first few days.
  • Healing – The CO2 laser causes a superficial wound to the skin that takes several days to heal. The superficial injury of the outer layer of skin results in bleeding, swelling, weeping and crusting over the treated area. Once the surface is healed, it is pink and may become sensitive to the sun for about six weeks.
  • Pigment Changes – The treated area may heal with increased or decreased pigmentation. This occurs most often in darker pigmented skin. It can also occur following exposure of the area to the sun. It is recommended that you protect yourself from any sun exposure for three to six months following treatment. Hyperpigmentation usually fades in three to six months, and may require the use of fading creams. However, pigment changes can be permanent.
  • Infection – There is small risk of infection. Antibiotics and Antivirals are used routinely.
  • Scarring – There is a small chance of scarring, including hypertrophic scars or very rarely, keloid scars.  Dr Lamb has not had any of his patients develop scarring from resurfacing.
  • Eye Exposure – There is a risk of damage to the eye from laser surgery. Eye shields are used routinely and this completely protects the eyes.

Treatment Alternatives

Needling or IPL can be used for wrinkles, however are less effective.