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 skin of the face, neck or chest.

When is laser resurfacing used?

Laser resurfacing can improve, but 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, the clinical coordinator, and one of 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 family, if you choose. We are excited and proud to offer this amazing technology to our patients.

After VECTRA imaging, the certified medical laser technician will examine you to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. He or she will discuss details of the procedure, show you before-and-after photos and answer any questions you may have. Options for anesthesia will also be discussed at this time. With this procedure, most people choose to be awake; however, we do have patients that prefer to go be asleep. Our skincare and certified medical laser technicians will review the preoperative and postoperative laser protocols with you. Lindsay will then review surgical fees, financing options and answer additional questions.

If you choose to have this procedure, you will return for another consultation about 4 weeks prior to the scheduled procedure to meet with our team and prepare your skin for the laser. At this appointment, you will also meet with Dr. Maloney. He will review the procedure plan with you, go through consent forms, review your VECTRA pre-operative photographs and give you your prescriptions for before and after the procedure. 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 the procedure.

How do I prepare for laser resurfacing?

Once you have met with our team of certified medical laser technicians and choose a date for your laser resurfacing, you should plan for your care and recovery Plan to take 3 days to 2 weeks off work after this procedure, depending on the type of work you do (speak to the 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.

If you smoke, you must quit a minimum of 2 weeks before surgery. We suggest 6 to 8 weeks, but 2 weeks is the minimum. Smokers heal more slowly and can have wound healing problems.

If you take aspirin or other medications that may cause bleeding, stop taking them 3 weeks before surgery to reduce the risk of bleeding. If you are taking any diet pills (prescription or over-the-counter) or Metformin (a common diabetes medication), stop 1 week prior to surgery to avoid 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 at home. Begin taking an over-the-counter stool softener because narcotic pain medication and anesthesia can make you constipated.

If you choose to have your procedure at the surgery center

The morning of surgery, do not have anything to eat or drink after midnight, this includes water. Do not wear any lotions, deodorant or make-up on the day of surgery. Do not wear any jewelry to the surgery center. Wear comfortable clothes that are easy to put on and take off. A shirt that zips or buttons up the front is preferable, as are loose workout pants or sweatpants. Bring your photo ID to check in to the surgery center. You will check in and be taken back to the preoperating area where Dr. Maloney will discuss the surgical plan, answer any additional questions you have and mark the surgery 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

Arrive 1 hour before your scheduled surgery time. You will take your prescribed medication when you get to the office. Dr. Maloney or a member of his staff 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 to read, knit, etc. You will need someone to drive you to and from your procedure because of the medications you will be taking. AFter about an hour we will bring you back to the procedure room where Dr. Maloney will make final preparations for the procedure. The topical numbing medication will be removed and Dr. Maloney will inject additional numbing medication.

How is laser resurfacing performed?

Laser resurfacing takes about 2 hours. This includes the hour it takes to numb the skin, the laser procedure 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 begins. The procedure can be quite uncomfortable for most people. After the laser procedure, cool compresses are applied and an occlusive dressing is placed on the affected area.

What should I expect after laser resurfacing?

You will apply a nonocclusive dressing to your face for the first 5 days to keep your facial skin moist. You may wash with a mild cleanser. We will provide you with the nonocclusive dressing and the mild cleanser. Applying cool compresses helps cool the skin and can help reduce itching and/or discomfort. Your face will be red and peel for 3 to 5 days. Apply a moisturizer and sunscreen after the fourth day. Your face will be pink, similar to a sunburn, for 10 to 14 days. After 7 days you may use make-up. Avoid exfoliation (Retin-A, facials, microdermabrasion) for 6 weeks. You may start back on your Hydroquinone after 2 weeks. Your follow-up appointment should be made with our certified medical laser technicians 3 to 4 weeks after the laser treatment. If you have any questions during the recovery phase, please 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 your personal decision whether benefits outweigh the risks. Common risks include hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, uneven skin tone/texture and the 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. Laser resurfacing can smooth (but 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 treatment can even out pigment irregularities of the skin. This is seen at about 2 to 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 someone 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, 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 to 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 to 14 days, sometimes as long as 3 months. At 7 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 1 week, 1 month and more if needed.
  18. You can start back on your hydroquinone 2 weeks after the procedure.
  19. You should schedule an appointment with Jeanne 3 to 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 to 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.