Post-Laser Treatment Home Care Instructions
Laser treatments are a great way to non-surgically make improvements in the face without the standard required downtime with surgical procedures.
A series of laser treatments are prescribed in a treatment program to achieve the optimal results with various technologies. It is not uncommon to need several laser treatments to fully achieve the beneficial results that the laser treatments can achieve.
To optimize results, patients are given specific pre- and post-op instructions to prepare and care for the skin before and after laser treatments. Below we discuss some of the essential key preparatory measures that patients can engage in to optimize their laser treatments.
Preparation Before Laser Treatment
Your plastic surgeon should provide you with your specific laser treatment pre-op instructions, as they can differ based on the type of laser treatment and desired changes required. A general rule that applies to all laser treatments is to avoid tanning the skin. Patients must refrain from tanning outdoors or indoors in tanning booths for at least 4 weeks prior to their laser treatments. The frequency of lasers can cause interaction with sun-exposed skin. Skin that has been exposed to the sun is at a higher risk for burns, hyper- and hypo-pigmentation, and more discomfort during the laser procedures.
Day of Procedure
Patients should have their skin free of makeup and other skin care products that can cause a barrier between the skin and the laser application. Your laser practitioner can further cleanse your skin prior to beginning the treatment. A “clean canvas” is a great way to maximize your appointment so your technician can begin your laser treatment as soon as possible. Your laser operator will provide you with specific home care instructions regarding cleansing, moisturizing, use of makeup, etc.
First 24 to 48 Hours After Your Treatment
Patients can expect the most amount of discomfort during and immediately after the laser procedures. The level of discomfort is specific to the type of laser used, so patients should be sure to have their post-procedure instructions with them when they leave their appointment. Most patients are given Aquaphor as an occlusive ointment to hydrate and protect their newly treated skin. It is very important to use a sunscreen with a SPF of 45 or higher and to avoid direct sun exposure for at least 4 weeks after laser procedures to avoid skin damage. Newly laser-treated skin is more vulnerable to the harming effects of UV rays.
The first week is when most of the recovery happens. Patients can usually resume their normal activities at the end of the 1-week period. With more invasive treatments like CO2 laser resurfacing, the downtime can be up to 2 weeks. Patients are encouraged to refrain from wearing any makeup on the treated skin for the first week after their laser procedure.
2 Weeks After
After two weeks, patients can expect to have recovered from almost all of the post-laser treatment symptoms. The skin continues to build collagen and remodel over the course of several months. However, visually the skin usually appears back to normal by the 2-week period. Patients usually feel more comfortable resuming their exercise activities at this time.
1 Month After
Patients can expect to see the improvements in their skin after the first month. Depending on the skin type or treatment type, most people should be able to see or feel improvements in their skin by now. Most laser treatments require 3 weeks to fully display the benefits. If required, patients are usually encouraged to repeat their treatments at this time. Patients can resume their normal skincare routine and continue to apply sunscreen with SPF 45 or higher. Mineral makeup can be applied now, and liquid foundation should be avoided, as it can clog pores and cause irritation.
Whether you are having a small mini-procedure or an extensive laser treatment, following your post-op instructions enables you to maximize the effectiveness of your procedure by allowing the skin to heal smoothly after laser procedures.
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