What you can expect
During the procedure
Your doctor may do laser resurfacing as an outpatient procedure. Your care team will numb skin with medication. For extensive resurfacing, such as treatment to your whole face, you might be sedated.
During ablative laser resurfacing, an intense beam of light energy (laser) is directed at your skin. The laser beam destroys the outer layer of skin (epidermis). At the same time, the laser heats the underlying skin (dermis), which stimulates collagen production over time, resulting in better skin tone and texture. Ablative laser resurfacing typically takes between 30 minutes and two hours, depending on the technique used and the size of the area treated.
If you're undergoing nonwounding laser or nonablative laser treatment, a series of treatments is typically scheduled over the course of weeks or months.
After the procedure
After ablative laser resurfacing, the treated skin will be raw, swollen and itchy. Your doctor will apply a thick ointment to the treated skin and might cover the area with an airtight and watertight dressing. You may take a pain reliever and use cool compresses. New skin usually covers the area in one or two weeks. During this time do not use products that may irritate your face, such as cosmetics and sunscreens. And avoid situations that increase your risk of infection, such as swimming.
After nonablative laser resurfacing, recovery time is minimal. You may have some redness, swelling and discomfort. Use cool compresses as needed. You can resume your normal activities and skin care routine immediately.