What is a laser? A laser is a high-energy beam of light that can selectively transfer its energy into tissue to treat the skin. Lasers contain a material that produces and amplifies light. Two mirrors cause the light to reflect back and forth through this material. The result is a light beam that is collimated (aligned) and intense. This light is either one pure color or several different pure colors. These properties which separate the laser from a light bulb, are important to the medical application of lasers.
Many procedures cannot be done without the laser. Likewise, many procedures are better performed without the laser. Even with the sparkle, pure color, and high-energy beam, the laser is not always the best tool for surgery. The choice of using a laser or other surgical methods is carefully made by the facial plastic surgeon. Your surgeon has the preference to consider the results, the possible complications, and the alternatives.
Am I a candidate for laser surgery or laser resurfacing?
In medicine, physicians can use lasers to make incisions, vaporize tumors, close blood vessels, selectively reduce pigmentation, or even treat skin wrinkles. The laser makes it possible to change tissue without making an incision. So a surgeon can treat birthmarks or damaged blood vessels, remove port-wine stains, and shrink facial “spider veins” without major surgery. Also lasers can be used to rejuvenate the skin.
Is it any wonder that many facial plastic surgeons use lasers on a routine basis? They use the laser as a “light scalpel.” The tissue is left sterile, and bleeding is greatly reduced.
Lasers can be used to reduce wrinkles around the lips or eyes, even the entire face, softening fine wrinkles and removing certain blemishes on the face.
The laser procedure
Because safety is a major component of laser use, your surgeon will describe safety precautions before the surgery. For many types of lasers, you will be required to wear protective glasses or goggles during laser treatments. Sometimes topical creams or local anesthetics are used to numb the treated area before the surgery. As with all surgery, the laser has its limitations, and there are risks that will be discussed with the laser operator. Most of the results are spectacular, giving you a fresher, younger appearance and more healthy skin.
Post operative expectations
After the procedure, you will probably experience some swelling and skin redness for several days. Occasionally bleeding may occur, but it should be mild. Ointments and creams will be recommended during the healing process. It is important to follow all the post-operative directions, particularly with careful use of sunblock and avoiding sun exposure.
The full impact of the laser may not be apparent for one to three months. Additional treatment sessions will not be scheduled until the healing process for a particular treatment is complete.
It is important for the patient to realize that lasers have specific applications, and not all lasers can be used on every patient. However, laser procedures can provide a dramatic change in the facial appearance and texture of the skin.