What to Expect After Laser Facial Resurfacing

Laser facial resurfacing is a relatively simple procedure that takes place on an outpatient basis. Understanding what you should expect after the procedure and how to properly care for your skin afterward is important for delivery of the results you hoped for.


Laser facial resurfacing is commonly performed with the patient under local anesthesia along with sedation. This means you will be awake during the procedure, but you will feel relaxed and will experience very little discomfort. If you require extensive resurfacing, however, you may be put to sleep under general anesthesia. In either case, you will feel groggy following the procedure and will need assistance with driving home safely.

Before You Leave the Office

After the procedure is over, which can last anywhere from a few minutes to one and a half hours, your surgeon may treat the skin with protective ointments or creams before you leave the office. He or she might also apply a bandage over the area in order to cover and protect it. This bandage may need to remain in place for the first five to ten days following surgery.


Once You Get Home

After you get home from surgery, you will most likely notice some mild discomfort and swelling from the laser facial resurfacing procedure. This swelling and discomfort can be managed, however, with ice packs and by taking the medication as prescribed by your doctor.

If your doctor did bandage your face following the procedure, you might want to replace it with a new one after a day or two. After about a week, your doctor will want to remove the bandage and apply a thin layer of ointment to the skin. At this point, your doctor will provide you with instructions for gently washing and caring for your skin as it heals. It is important for you to resist the temptation to pick at the crusted area over your skin because this can result in scarring. For most patients, the crusting goes away about ten days after the surgery is complete. Redness, however, may last for several weeks following the procedure.

Resuming Normal Activity

You will likely experience pink or red skin for several weeks after the surgery is complete. Your doctor might prescribe medication to help make this discoloring subside more quickly. About two weeks after surgery, however, you will probably be able to wear makeup again and be able to cover up the change in color. Some slight pinkness may remain for up to six months after surgery. Some patients do find their skin to be sensitive to their usual makeup. In this case, you might want to switch makeup or wait until your skin has healed further before applying makeup to the area.

During the months following treatment, it is very important to protect the treated area from sun until your skin color has returned to normal. Therefore, you should use sun protection of at least SPF 15 every day. You should also shade your face with a visor or a hat. If the resurfacing took place around your eyes, be sure to also wear sunglasses with UVB and UVA 100% filters. Otherwise, you may experience sun damage to your skin.

Seeing the Results

It may take several months for your new look to fully appear. As the pinkness fades, you will immediately notice the difference in your skin. It will have a much fresher and smoother appearance than it did prior to surgery. These results will be long lasting, but not permanent. Your new skin is just a susceptible to expression lines, such as laugh lines and crow’s feet, as your “old” skin. Therefore, it is important to care for your skin by continuing to protect it from the sun and by applying moisturizers in order to prevent it from becoming wrinkled and filled with fine lines once more.