Laser skin treatments are an excellent way to improve the appearance of your skin. But having these treatments, though safe and widely effective, means you need to be aware of the aftereffects of treatment, how to care for your newly treated skin, and maybe most importantly, what not to do once you have had your treatment.
How it Works
Fraxel treatments are a fractional resurfacing of the skin using laser technology. It helps eliminate fine lines and wrinkles, scars, sun damage, discoloration, large pores, and other skin problems. The technology allows improvement in the quality of your skin with minimal recovery time.
According to Baylor College of Medicine, 125 to 250 laser beams are directed to the face, penetrating the skin, heating its layers to allow both surface and deep treatment simultaneously. A numbing cream is used to alleviate the amount of pain felt during the treatment, and a cooling device also helps with the discomfort. Even so, patients will experience swelling, redness, and flaking following the treatment, but these side effects are usually gone by day 7 or so.
The lasers specifically target damaged skin, according to Hackensack University Medical Center, which helps remove the damaged skin and allows new skin cells to replace them. Those first few days and even months after your treatment are important, though, and there are some things you should avoid in order to allow your skin to properly heal and you to get the best effect from your treatment.
Beware of the Sun
According to the Fraxel website, direct sun exposure is a no-go after your treatment. The site suggests wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. It also states that patients should avoid direct sun exposure for about three months after the last treatment.
It’s a good idea to apply sunscreen every day after your morning skincare routine. Even if you don’t plan to spend time outside, you can still get incremental sunlight through windows, in the car, etc., and every little bit of exposure can affect your Fraxel outcome. Also, wearing a wide-brimmed hat while outdoors can help eliminate sun exposure.
Some experts suggest planning to get your Fraxel treatment during the cooler months. While you will still need to take precautions such as wearing sunscreen and avoiding direct sun exposure, time spent outside is typically limited in the cooler times of the year. Opting to have your treatment in the fall or winter can help you avoid the temptation of spending too much time outside.
Do Not Skip your Skincare
Your surgeon will give you exact instructions to take home after your treatment, but one thing you must not do is skip keeping your face clean. Because the Fraxel laser does damage your skin cells (in order for them to rejuvenate and improve your skin’s appearance), you need to be certain to clean all treated areas several times a day – two to five, according to plasticsurgery.org – with saline or diluted vinegar solution, depending on your surgeon’s instructions.
Some skin peeling and flaking is to be expected after your treatment. Your doctor will advise you to not pick at or peel this skin. Instead, experts suggest gently removing peeling or flaking skin with tap water, petrolatum, and gauze a couple of times a day. Remember that this flaking and peeling is a sign that the treatment is working.
Also, don’t skip moisturizing your skin. Change to a gentle moisturizer, if you usually use heavy emollients or solutions that include ingredients like retinol. Make sure that whatever moisturizer you use is light and gentle, and does not clog your pores. Remember to moisturize from the inside, too. Drinking lots of water to stay hydrated will help your skin heal properly after your procedure. But avoid drinking beverages with a diuretic effect, like coffee, alcohol, and caffeinated tea, since they will cause your body to eliminate that much-needed hydration.
Put Down that Cigarette
Tobacco smoke complicates the healing process – smoking can make your recovery more difficult, and the tobacco smoke may damage your skin. For one thing, smoking interferes with proper blood flow, which can increase healing time and reduce positive outcomes from your procedure.
Smoking also contributes to signs of aging. Smoking encourages premature wrinkling and other signs of aging on the skin. Not only will quitting smoking improve your overall health, but it will also provide you positive changes in your skin’s appearance, such as more vibrant looking skin and an increase in the appearance of youthfulness.
Take Time Off
Hackensack University Medical Center’s website states that patients need to plan to take about a week off work in order to properly recover from the treatment. Your body is going to be working to repair and regrow skin, so you need to avoid overexertion. Also, your face will likely have redness and puffiness, and you might feel like you have a sunburn. It would be best to just stay at home and let your skin repair itself.
Also, avoid strenuous exercise for three to four days after your treatment to reduce the amount of sweating in your face. Sweating can irritate your skin and cause excessive itching and irritation. Also, Fraxel treatments cause puffiness, and exercising can promote even further swelling. Some experts say you can return to regular workouts 24-48 hours after your procedure while others suggest taking a week to 10 days off. Ask your doctor for instructions specific to you.
What Can I Do After Fraxel?
While you do want to avoid the above in order to maximize your healing and thus the outcome of your procedure, there are some things you should do in order to keep yourself healthy and give your skin a chance to look its best:
- Use gentle cleansers and moisturizers
- Take doctor-recommended pain relievers to reduce discomfort
- Sleep with your head elevated to reduce puffiness
- Take vitamin C after your procedure – it helps increase the production of collagen
- Use cold compresses to reduce redness and swelling
- Contact your doctor if you have pain that cannot be controlled, excessive itchiness, or any signs of possible infection
If you’re considering Fraxel treatment and have questions about the procedure, how to prepare, if you might be a good candidate for Fraxel treatment, etc., the experts at Mirror Mirror Beauty Boutique can provide you with all the information you need and can set a consultation appointment for you.