Do Laser Resurfacing Benefits Outweigh The Slow Painful Recovery?

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Answered by: Joan Tania, An Expert in the About Skincare Category
We were intrigued by a recent article in the NY Times Fashion & Style section that says, when it comes to treating aging skin around the eyes, your best bet is laser resurfacing. It's even better than surgery.

Dr. Michael McGuire, a Los Angeles plastic surgeon and president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons told the NY Times this: “If the skin is mildly wrinkled and/or pigmented, the laser can be a good option,” he said, adding that he frequently gives laser treatments to patients in their 40s to defer face-lifts.

Laser resurfacing sounds simple enough. An intense beam of light treats the damaged surface of the skin. And then younger skin grows in its place.

But what we have heard is that laser resurfacing is no 'walk in the park.' It's painful and you certainly need some down time, at least a week or two. We have had acquaintances tell us that this procedure felt like big, thick elastics being snapped across the face. Another told us, her face felt like raw meat directly afterwards. We saw her, too, trying to hide her bright, red skin unsuccessfully behind a big pair of sunglasses and a hat. And these women both say they couldn't be seen out in public for about a week following the treatment. It's best to schedule a laser resurfacing treatment during vacation time.

Despite some of the nightmares about laser resurfacing, most patients feel the pain is very much worth it in the long run. There are laser resurfacing benefits---say bye-bye to wrinkles, acne scars, facial lines, age spots, sun damage, and more. The results can be quite stunning, and all without the inconvenience of undergoing major surgery.

The question looms. Do you treat the entire facial surface or just zero in on selected areas?

The NY Times article had some interesting answers. Read on:

"The debate surrounding laser treatments is whether to go fractional or cover the entire surface of the treated area. Fractional lasers, like the Fraxel, burn tiny holes into the skin to stimulate collagen production. Because much of the skin remains untouched, recuperation time is minimal, but multiple treatments are necessary.

Regular laser resurfacing, on the other hand, destroys entire outer skin layers in the targeted area and requires at least a week of recovery. But it is a single treatment and produces arguably more dramatic results."

Dr. McGuire suggests treating the entire skin surface for the most youthful facial benefits. "Any laser treatment that leaves some skin ‘islands’ will be less effective at achieving skin tightening and pigmentation removal simply because the entire surface is not treated.".

The average cost of laser resurfacing is about $2,500. Many patients report seeing immediate results after the uncomfortable downtime of red, puffy, and sometimes crusty skin. The down-time isn't pretty, but remember your mama's saying, "You must suffer to be beautiful." So, laser resurfacing benefits seem to outweigh the little post-treatment uglies you have to get past.

And although laser resurfacing can last for years, wrinkles and expression lines will eventually pop up as skin ages. Repeat procedures may be necessary.


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