Before you have laser resurfacing, your doctor will likely:
- Review your medical history. Be prepared to answer questions about current and past medical conditions and any medications you're taking or have taken recently, as well as any cosmetic procedures you've had in the past.
- Do a physical exam. Your doctor will inspect your skin and the area that will be treated. This will help him or her determine what changes can be made and how your physical features — for example, the tone and thickness of your skin — might affect your results.
- Discuss your expectations. Talk with your doctor about your motivations and expectations, as well as the potential risks. Make sure you understand how long it'll take to heal and what your results might be.
Before laser resurfacing, you might also need to:
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- Take medication. If you're having ablative laser resurfacing — or nonablative laser resurfacing and you have a history of herpes infections around your mouth — your doctor will prescribe an antiviral medication before and after treatment to prevent a viral infection. Your doctor might recommend taking an oral antibiotic medication around the time of the procedure to help prevent a bacterial infection. In addition, your doctor might recommend using a topical retinoid on your skin for four weeks before having ablative laser resurfacing.
- Avoid unprotected sun exposure. Too much sun up to two months before the procedure can cause permanent irregular pigmentation in treated areas. Discuss sun protection and acceptable sun exposure with your doctor.
- Arrange for a ride home. If you're going to be sedated during laser resurfacing, you'll need help getting home after the procedure.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=56107890. Accessed Nov. 13, 2013.
- Roy D. Ablative facial resurfacing. Dermatologic Clinics. 2005;23:549.
- Alexiades-Armenakas MR, et al. The spectrum of laser skin resurfacing: Nonablative, fractional and ablative laser resurfacing. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2008;58:719.
- Skin rejuvenation and resurfacing: Beauty for life. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Patients_and_Consumers/Procedures/Cosmetic_Procedures/Skin_Rejuvenation_and_Resurfacing.html. Accessed Nov 13, 2013.
- Laser skin rejuvenation. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.skincarephysicians.com/agingskinnet/laser_skin_rejuvenation.html. Accessed Nov. 13, 2013.
- Laser therapy. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. http://www.asds.net/LaserResurfacingInformation.aspx. Accessed Nov. 13, 2013.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=56108129. Accessed Nov. 13, 2013.
- Facial peels and laser surgery. The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. http://www.aafprs.org/patient/procedures/resurfacing.html. Accessed Nov. 13, 2013.
- Doherty SD, et al. A paradigm for facial skin rejuvenation. Facial Plastic Surgery. 2009;25:245.
- Brewer JD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 21, 2013.