Laser skin resurfacing is a technique that can be used to treat acne scars and wrinkles. It treats the layers of damaged skin by using pulsating beams of light. Laser skin resurfacing procedures are generally safe when performed by a board-certified dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon. But it is always important to know the risks as well as the benefits of laser skin resurfacing.
Who should not use laser skin resurfacing?
Although skin laser resurfacing is generally safe, it isn’t for everyone. You should consult with your doctor to see if skin laser resurfacing is a safe treatment option for you. It is not recommended if you have any of the following conditions:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding;
- Allergic skin disorders or reactions (the laser may trigger a flareup);
- Recurrent cold sores (herpes simplex);
- Have taken the acne medication isotretinoin (Acnotinâ or Accutaneâ) during the past year;
- Have diabetes, a connective tissue or autoimmune disease, or a weak immune system;
- Have a history of radiation therapy to your face;
- Active acne and deep acne scars that are depressed;
- Very dark skin;
- Stretch marks;
- Have a history of ridged areas caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue (keloids).
If you have any of these conditions, you should talk to your doctor to weigh the risks and benefits of using skin laser resurfacing to treat your skin.
What are the risks I should know about?
With any procedure, skin laser resurfacing has some risks. No matter which type of skin laser resurfacing you choose, you may experience the following risks:
- Skin irritation. You may experience itching, swelling, crusting and redness. This is a normal reaction and will not last long. Except for redness, which may last for about 6 to 12 weeks or can last up to 6 months to a year in some cases.
- Skin flare-ups. Whether you suffer from acne or have allergic skin disorder such as psoriasis and eczema, you may be prone to breakouts and flare-ups. Applying thick creams and bandages to your face after treatment can worsen acne or cause you to temporarily develop tiny white bumps (milia) on treated skin.
- Infection. Skin infections that can be bacterial, viral or fungal may affect the treated area as well as the rest of the body. Viral infections such as cold sores (herpes simplex) can flare-up from exposure of the laser.
- Changes in skin color. Ablative laser resurfacing, which is a type of skin laser resurfacing that removes the damaged skin layer, can cause treated skin to become darker (hyperpigmentation) or lighter than surrounding the skin normal (hypopigmentation). Hyperpigmentation is more common in people who have darker skin. The first signs of hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation typically occur weeks after treatment and may sometimes go away on its own. If your skin color does not resolve, discuss with your doctor about other treatment options. Your doctor may suggest the use of topical creams that may contain retinoic acid or glycolic acid. These are effective treatments for hyperpigmentation. Hypopigmentation may be harder to treat.
- Scarring. Scarring is rare but may occur, especially after ablative laser resurfacing.
- Turning of the eyelid (ectropion). Rarely, ablative laser resurfacing near the lower eyelid can cause the eyelid to turn out and expose the inner surface. Surgery is usually needed to correct this problem.
Skin laser resurfacing is a safe option for most people but not suitable for everyone. To find out if skin laser resurfacing is the best treatment option for you, it is important to discuss and understand the risks before choosing skin laser resurfacing.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
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Laser resurfacing. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/laser-resurfacing/basics/risks/prc-20019469 . Assessed June 6, 2016.
Laser Skin Resurfacing http://www.docshop.com/education/dermatology/facial/skin-resurfacing. Assessed June 6, 2016.