Tucson Laser Resurfacing of Face, Neck, Chest Surgery Information, Benefits and Risks

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What is laser resurfacing?

Laser resurfacing is a procedure in which a laser is used to resurface the skin of the face, neck or chest.

When is laser resurfacing used?

Laser resurfacing can improve (not eliminate) fine lines, wrinkles and skin irregularities. It can also help with hyperpigmentation (dark spots) and age spots.

What is involved at a consultation for laser resurfacing?

When you come in for your initial consultation, you will meet with Dr. Maloney, Lindsay and our Certified Medical Laser Technicians. Maloney Plastic Surgery is one of the only practices in Tucson, AZ to offer VECTRA 3D (three-dimensional) technology to our patients. One of the first things we will do at your consultation is use VECTRA imaging technology to take a 3D image of your face. This exciting technology will allow us to “laser resurface” your face on the 3D image so you can see what results you can expect! You will also be given a user number and can access your saved images from home to review with your friends and loved ones if you choose. We are excited and proud to offer this amazing technology to our patients. After VECTRA imaging, a Certified Medical Laser Technician will examine you to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. They will also discuss details of the operation, show you before and after photos and answer any questions you may have. At this time they will discuss the options for anesthesia. With this operation most people choose to be awake, however we do have patients that prefer to go to sleep. Our skincare and Certified Medical Laser Technicians will review the pre-operative and post-operative laser protocols. Lindsay will then review surgical fees, financing options and answer additional questions. If you choose to have surgery, you will return for another consultation about four weeks prior to your operation to meet with our team to prepare your skin for the laser. At this appointment you will also meet with Dr. Maloney. He will review the plan with you as well as go through consent forms, review your VECTRA pre-operative photographs and give you your prescriptions. Our Certified Medical Laser Technicians will go over all of your surgical instructions and give you a packet of information so when you leave this appointment you will have everything you need for surgery.

How do I prepare for laser resurfacing?

Once you have met with our team of Certified Medical Laser Technicians and have chosen a date for your laser resurfacing, you should plan for your care and recovery after the operation. You will need to arrange a ride to and from the surgery center/office the day of surgery as well as arrange for someone to stay with you for the first twenty-four hours. You should take three days to two weeks off of work for this operation depending on the type of work you do (speak to your Certified Medical Laser Technician for more information). If paperwork is required by your employer for your time off, please obtain it ahead of time and bring it to our office and we would be happy to fill it out. If you smoke, you must quit a minimum of two weeks before surgery. We suggest six to eight weeks, but two weeks is the minimum. Smokers heal more slowly and can have wound healing problems. If you take aspirin or other medication that causes bleeding, you should stop taking it three weeks before surgery because it causes increased bleeding and therefore more bruising. If you are taking any diet pills (prescription or over-the-counter) or if you are taking Metformin (a common diabetes medication), you should stop one week prior to surgery because of anesthesia risks. All medications, herbs, vitamins and dietary supplements you are taking should be carefully reviewed with Dr. Maloney prior to surgery.

At your pre-operative consultation you will be given your prescriptions. Get these prescriptions filled before surgery so they are at home when you need them. Pick up some bags of frozen peas or corn to use as icepacks after your procedure. You should also avoid alcohol and refrain from smoking. All surgeons recommend early and frequent ambulation after surgery to reduce the risk of blood clot formation in the legs and to speed up your recovery. You need to stay hydrated, so have plenty of water or sports drinks around the house. You should also begin a stool softener as narcotic pain medication and anesthesia can make you constipated.

If you choose to have your procedure at the surgery center

The morning of surgery you may not have anything to eat or drink after midnight, this includes water. Do not put any lotions, deodorant or make-up on the day of surgery. Do not wear any jewelry to the surgery center. You should wear comfortable clothes that are easy to get on and off. A shirt that zips or buttons up the front is preferable, as are loose workout type pants or sweat pants. Bring your photo ID when you check into the surgery center. You will be taken back to the pre-operating area where Dr. Maloney will come and discuss the plan again, answer any additional questions you have and mark the surgical site. You will also meet the anesthesiologist and ask him/her any questions you may have.

If you choose to have your procedure in the office

You will arrive one hour before your scheduled surgery time. You should take your prescribed medication when you get to the office. Jeanne will apply a topical numbing medication to your face. You will be waiting here with the numbing medication to take affect for about an hour, so please bring something read, knit, etc. You will need someone to drive you to and from your procedure because of the medications you will be taking. We will bring you back to the procedure room where Dr. Maloney will make final preparations for the procedure. Jeanne will remove the topical numbing medication and Dr. Maloney will inject additional numbing medication.

How is laser resurfacing performed?

Laser resurfacing takes about two hours. This includes the hour necessary to numb the skin, the laser procedure itself, and the time required to cool the skin and apply an occlusive dressing. After Dr. Maloney injects the numbing medication, pads are placed over your eyes for protection and the laser procedure will begin. The procedure can be quite uncomfortable for most people for about twenty minutes. After the laser procedure, cool compresses are applied and an occlusive dressing is placed.

What should I expect after laser resurfacing?

You will apply a non-occlusive dressing to your face for the first five days to keep your face moist. You may wash with a mild cleanser. We will provide you with both the non-occlusive dressing and the mild cleanser. Applying cool compresses helps cool the skin and can help with the itching and/or discomfort. Your face will be red and peel for three to five days. You can apply a moisturizer and sunscreen after the fourth day. Your face will be pink, similar to a sunburn for ten to fourteen days. After seven days you may use make-up. Avoid exfoliation (Retin-A, facials, microdermabrasion) for six weeks. You may start back on your Hydroquinone at two weeks. Your follow-up appointment should be made with our Certified Medical Laser Technicians three to four weeks after the laser treatment. If you have any questions during the recovery phase, please do not hesitate to call the office any time, day or night.

What are the benefits of laser resurfacing?

After the procedure, the tone, texture and discoloration of your skin will be improved.

What are the risks of laser resurfacing?

Laser resurfacing has risks, and it is the patient’s personal decision whether the benefits outweigh those risks. Common risks include hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, uneven tone/texture, and need for additional procedures. Most of these are temporary. There are also more uncommon, complicated risks such as scaring, burning of the skin, abrasion of the cornea, etc. For a full list of risks, go to plasticsurgery.org.

What You Should Know About Laser Resurfacing

  1. The laser resurfacing can smooth (not eliminate) fine lines and wrinkles. Collagen stimulation takes about 3 months, therefore you will not see the full results of the laser for 3 – 6 months.
  2. The laser can even out pigment irregularities of the skin. This is seen at about 2 – 3 weeks. It can soften or in some cases eliminate hyperpigmentation (dark spots) and age spots.
  3. You should setup an appointment with Jeanne (our skin care nurse) to start on Retin A for one month prior to the laser to prep your skin. You may also choose to have a micropeel to exfoliate your skin a few days prior to the laser. If you have a lot of hyperpigmentation (dark spots), are olive skinned, are Hispanic or if you get hyperpigmentation from being out in the sun, you must be on hydroquinone 4 – 6 weeks before your laser.
  4. You should stop Retin A five days prior to your laser treatment.
  5. One hour before the laser treatment, you will take pain medication and a muscle relaxer so you are comfortable for the procedure.
  6. You will need to arrive here in the office one hour before treatment to have numbing medicine applied to your face.
  7. The laser is described as “uncomfortable but tolerable.”
  8. The laser treatment takes about 30 minutes and then you will have a driver take you home. You may not drive yourself home.
  9. After the laser treatmentyou will be given a non-occlusive moisturizer (such as Aquaphor or Vaseline) to apply to your face. You may choose to purchase Epidermal Repair ($68) to use in conjunction with the Aquaphor after the first 24 hours for accelerated dermal repair.
  10. After the laser treatment you should apply cool compresses (such as frozen peas) to decrease swelling and discomfort.
  11. You may need pain medication after the procedure. You will need to take the Valtrex (used to prevent cold sores) and the antibiotic after the procedure until they are done.
  12. After the laser treatment you should wash the area to help exfoliate, but re-apply occlusive moisturizer for at least four days or until the scabs are gone.
    • Avoid picking or aggressive scrubbing of the exfoliating skin
    • Clean the area daily with the gentle washing process
  13. Your face will be red and peel for 3 – 5 days
  14. Apply the provided normal skin care moisturizer and sun block after the fourth day. You must use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more after this treatment.
  15. Your face will remain pink (like you have a sunburn) for an additional 10 – 14 days, sometimes as long as 3 months. At seven days, or when the scabs are gone, you may use makeup to cover the pink.
  16. Avoid topical exfoliation (Retin A, facials, microdermabrasion, etc.) for 4 weeks.
  17. Follow-up visits should be at one week, one month and more if needed.
  18. You can start back on your hydroquinone two weeks after the procedure.
  19. You should schedule an appointment with Jeanne 3 – 4 weeks after your laser treatment to start or continue a skin care regimen that will protect your skin from the damaging Arizona sun.
  20. 20% of people need the laser treatment repeated at 6 – 9 months for optimum results.
  21. Please call and talk to Jeanne, Lindsay or Vanessa (298-2330) if you have any questions or concerns regarding your laser treatment.