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 may 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 (tretinoin) 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.
- Tanzi EL, et al. Skin resurfacing: Ablative lasers, chemical peels and dermabrasion. In: Wolff K, et al. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=3007358. Accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
- 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 Feb. 22, 2011.
- Laser skin rejuvenation. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.skincarephysicians.com/agingskinnet/laser_skin_rejuvenation.html. Accessed May 9, 2011.
- Laser resurfacing information. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. http://www.asds.net/LaserResurfacingInformation.aspx. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- Chapas AM, et al. Cosmetic applications of non-ablative lasers and other light devices: Introduction. In: Wolff K, et al. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=3007544#3007544. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- Facial peels and laser surgery. The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. http://www.aafprs.org/patient/procedures/resurfacing.html. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- Doherty SD, et al. A paradigm for facial skin rejuvenation. Facial Plastic Surgery. 2009;25:245.
- Clay RP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 15, 2011.