What is laser resurfacing?
This is the latest technique to improve wrinkles, discolourations and acne scars of the face. This is used in place of dermabrasion and chemical peel or can be used in conjunction with these techniques of skin resurfacing.

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The laser has greater advantages over the older method in accuracy and precision. The laser allows the skin to be vaporised in a controlled method layer by layer, similar to how a laser can etch a number into a diamond.

What are the advantages of laser?
The laser seals all blood vessels and lymphatic vessels at the same time, leaving a clean dry surface to work from.

Bacteria and viruses would be killed by the intensity of the heat.

A more uniform thickness of skin can be removed at once, due to precise control.

Am I suitable for laser resurfacing?
Laser resurfacing is suitable for someone who:

Wants to rejuvenate the damaging effects of the sun's ageing process.
Is concerned with the colour, texture or condition of their skin's surface.
Has acne or chicken pox scarring.
Has scarring due to an injury or accident.

How long does it take?
Usually about 30 - 90 minutes, depending upon the areas to be resurfaced.

Is hospitalisation required?
Surgery can usually be performed as a day only procedure. You would be able to go home after a few hours.

Does it hurt?
Anaesthesia is required. Local anaesthesia can be used for smaller regions but general anaesthesia is used for the whole face resurfacing.

What should I expect after surgery?
Usually for the first week your skin will look grazed and scabs may form. This will be covered with Vaseline or sometimes with a dressing which will stay intact for 3-5 days. A crusty scab will try to form after this time.

Gentle skin washing with a mild soap and application of diluted hydrogen peroxide or antibiotic ointment is used to remove the yellowish crust which usually forms on the lasered area.

When the crust falls off, smooth, new skin will be healing underneath. This will be pinkish for a few months but will continue to fade.

A camouflage make-up can be applied to the area to blend with the normal skin colour when the skin has healed, usually 10-14 days.

You can usually return to work within 10-14 days. For larger areas or deeper resurfacing, the area may be very red and three weeks off work may be required if you have an occupation which requires close personal contact. Following this, you will need to wear moisturiser and sun block SPF 30+ for six months.

Will my skin be more sensitive?
For the first three months, certain creams and make-up may sting.

Is this permanent?
For scars, the unevenness will be improved and is permanent. It may never remove the scars completely but the aim is improvement. Secondary procedures are sometimes necessary to obtain further improvement.

If you are sensible and keep out of the sun, wear sun protection and carry on with a maintenance skin care programme, your result should be permanent or improved.

Are there any complications that may occur?
Keloid scarring: This is rarely occurs. A thick red patch develops which can be managed with Cortisone injections, compression and gel sheeting therapy.

Prolonged redness: Redness will last from three weeks to 4-6 months.

Pigmentation changes: Occasionally, patients may develop irregular hyperpigmentation (brown spots) during their healing interval and these can occur up to six months after surgery. You will be provided with cosmetic products after surgery to help minimise this risk. Patients are encouraged to aggressively apply sun screen products as ultraviolet light exposure is counterproductive to achieving and maintaining a revitalised configuration for the skin.

Telangiectasia (fine vessels): A rare problem but recovery is quick. Further laser treatment may be required.

Milia (small cysts): These are caused by blocked pores and glands and they usually disappear in 6-12 weeks but this is also rare. Sometimes these are manually removed.

Herpes Zoster/Cold Sores: Laser may reactivate Herpes virus leading to fresh lesions following the lasering. In order to reduce the chance of Herpes reactivation, if you have a history of Herpes or cold sores, you will be prescribed Zovirax tablets before and following the surgery and Zovirax cream for your lips following the surgery.

General Information
Should there be any questions regarding laser resurfacing, be sure they are answered in advance by Dr Drielsma. Well meaning friends are not a good source of information. Find out everything before proceeding with the operation - a well informed patient is a happy one.

Finally, there can be no absolute guarantee with any surgery. Remember the realistic aim of this operation is improvement, not perfection.

Please note: The above information mentions only some of the benefits and complications of laser resurfacing. This information should not be regarded as a substitute for information and advice provided by Dr Drielsma during consultation.