What’s your main skin concern? If the first thing that comes to mind is a superficial concern related to aging, such as sun damage or deep wrinkles, then you’ve probably already been around the block trying to find a treatment that works for you. But while some over-the-counter creams and at-home tools may not do the job, you may be relieved to learn that energy-based treatments can rejuvenate and renew your appearance. At The Institute of Aesthetic Surgery in Orlando, FL we know that laser skin resurfacing is an effective treatment option for most people.
Laser skin resurfacing is a non-invasive treatment that involves the use of a sophisticated CO2 laser that removes damaged skin from the skin surface. The pulsed light emitted by the laser utilizes thermal energy in a way that accelerates skin cell turnover and stimulates the production of skin-supporting proteins in the sub-dermal layers of skin. This treatment is completely customizable and ideal for most skin types and conditions.
How Long Does It Take to Recover From Laser Skin Resurfacing?
Like many other aesthetic treatments that involve the use of energy-based technology or that involve deeply exfoliating the skin, you can expect your recovery for this laser resurfacing treatment to be moderate. For most patients, an average of two weeks is the expected recovery time for this treatment.
Compared to other aesthetic treatments that accomplish similar tasks, such as medium chemical peels, this recovery time is on par for what you will get in exchange for the treatment. As a note, this recovery time is shorter than some other laser treatments that use different technology. The gentle nature of the CO2 laser actually has a shorter recovery time than some other laser systems.
Why Does Recovery Take So Long?
Still, two weeks of recovery for your skin may seem like a long time, particularly if you have nothing to compare it to. For that reason, it’s important to understand the process that happens to your skin after laser treatment to renew and resurface the skin. Two important processes happen to your skin after your treatment: new skin cell turnover and collagen growth.
Skin Cell Turnover
On average, most people have a natural skin cell turnover cycle of 28 to 40 days. This cycle refers to the process of dead skin cells shedding and being replaced by new skin cells. Your normal skin cell turnover cycle only turns over the topmost layer of the skin, which is why this cycle is not enough by itself to correct pigmentation concerns. However, when you use laser treatment, the amount of skin cell turnover increases exponentially.
The light and heat of the CO2 laser effectively remove the epidermal skin cells, which are the layers of skin cells that make up the outermost layer of your skin. Because all of these skin cells are removed at once, the skin cells of the upper dermis that are often unaffected by pigmentation concerns become your new layer of visible skin. The shedding process will take at least two weeks for total skin renewal, which speeds up the natural skin cell turnover rate significantly.
Collagen growth is the other important process that factors into your expected recovery period. Collagen is the most abundant protein in your skin and is responsible for skin structure and volume. When aging depletes the natural collagen in your skin, you begin to develop fine lines, wrinkles, and skin laxity. Uneven collagen distribution is also responsible for acne scars and enlarged pores.
The thermal energy generated with this laser treatment effectively stimulates the production of new collagen in the sub-dermal layers. When the upper dermis is revealed and sculpted by the CO2 laser, the new skin cells and collagen will be smooth and undamaged, which can reduce textural skin concerns. Your elevated collagen production after this treatment will continue for up to six months.
How Should You Care for Your Skin After CO2 Laser Resurfacing?
During your recovery period, new skin cells will begin to grow from deeper layers of the skin and that means that your new skin cells will be vulnerable to dehydration, sunlight, and pollutants. If you want to have the best possible results after your treatment, then you will need to follow your aftercare instructions closely.
The two most important things you will need to do during your recovery include keeping your skin moist and protecting your skin from exposure to damaging UV rays. You may be given special ointments or moisturizers to use while your skin is recovering. You will not be able to use products containing Retinol or make-up for the first two weeks. Please follow all directions on how to cleanse the skin, including avoiding hot water.
When Will You See Results?
You will start to see the results of your treatment as soon as your skin finishes healing from the laser resurfacing treatment. For most people, this means it may take two to three weeks to see any significant results of this treatment. Many patients opt to take time off of work for at least 10 to 14 days for this reason.
You may notice the best results of your resurfacing treatment about 30 days after your appointment. At this time, your pigmentation concerns will have faded and your skin texture will be smoother. For textural concerns like scarring and wrinkles, your results will continue to improve over the next several months as your collagen production increases and matures.
How Many Treatments Will You Need?
In general, laser resurfacing with a CO2 laser only requires one treatment to achieve your desired results. However, while this Co2 laser is powerful enough to resurface and renew your skin with a single treatment for most superficial concerns, if your skin concerns are severe then you may require two or more treatments spaced several months apart. Those who may require multiple treatments include people who have deep wrinkles and advanced scarring.
We will determine the aggressiveness of your treatment plan based on the condition of your skin. Factors such as your age, skin condition, and how quickly your skin heals will all be considered when determining how many treatments are necessary to produce your ideal results.
How Long Will Results Last?
The results of this treatment are semi-permanent for most issues and will last for about one year at a time. Sometimes, permanent results for dark spots and shallow acne scars can be achieved with this treatment. However, treatment for skin laxity and wrinkles will only last for about 12 months or sometimes longer if your collagen production remains high.
How Can You Maintain Results?
Maintaining your results is the key to enjoying your results for as long as possible. One thing you can do to maintain the results of this treatment is schedule annual treatment appointments to keep your collagen growth high and to correct any pigmentation concerns that developed after your last treatment. Most people have maintenance appointments every 12 months.
You can also maintain your results by using recommended skincare products that will fight against developing dark spots and wrinkles, which can include products like Retinol. However, there is another important thing you can do to maintain your results, and that is protecting your skin from the sun.
Dermatologists agree that around 80% of all skin aging is caused by unprotected exposure to the sun. The UV rays in sunlight create free radicals in skin cells that cause problems like premature skin aging, collagen destruction, and melanin increases associated with the development of dark spots. Sun damage can also cause broken capillaries on the skin and can even darken the appearance of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
You can maintain your results by protecting your skin from harmful UV rays every day, which means wearing SPF in the daytime. You should incorporate SPF 30 or higher into your daytime skincare, even if the day is overcast. If you have fair skin, skin that sunburns easily, or skin that is prone to scarring, you may want to wear SPF 50.
What Can Laser Skin Resurfacing Treat?
Laser skin resurfacing is a highly versatile treatment that can be used to correct both superficial and textural skin concerns. Some of the skin concerns that can be corrected with this CO2 laser include:
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Acne scarring
- Sun damage
- Dark spots
- Blemishes and lesions
- Uneven skin tone
- Rough skin texture
- Enlarged pores
- Precancerous growths
Just like a deep chemical peel, CO2 laser treatments can also be used to remove precancerous growths on the skin. Precancerous growths refer to skin cells that are currently negative for melanoma but that that could develop into skin cancer down the line.
Is There a Best Time for This Treatment?
While you can have this treatment during any time of the year, it may be a good idea to schedule your treatment during the autumn and winter when there is less potential for sunlight exposure. You may want to schedule this treatment at least six months before an important life event, as well.
Who Are Good Candidates?
From pronounced wrinkles to facial scarring to pigmentation concerns, CO2 laser resurfacing is generally a good treatment option. A consultation will be able to determine if this treatment is a good match for your skin tone, skin type, and skin concerns.
Renew Your Skin With Laser Skin Resurfacing
If you want to make a big impact and improve the overall health and appearance of your skin, then laser skin resurfacing treatments may be your best treatment options. Laser treatments are more efficient and effective than many other cosmetic treatments and over-the-counter products. Please contact The Institute of Aesthetic Surgery in Orlando, FL to schedule your consultation today.