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How Long Does Skin Heal After Laser Resurfacing? + 7 Recovery Tips from an Expert

How Long Does Skin Heal After Laser Resurfacing? + 7 Recovery Tips from an Expert

Have you ever wondered how long does skin heal after laser resurfacing?

Laser resurfacing is a procedure that brings back your youthful, healthy skin by reducing imperfections and removing damaged skin, layer by layer. The main goal is to make your skin smoother, even-toned, and younger-looking overall.

Now, healing after this treatment isn’t like flipping a switch – it takes time, and can vary from person to person.

Generally, you’re looking at anywhere from a few days to 3 weeks to fully recover, depending on the type of laser treatment performed.

The good news is there are ways to help speed up your recovery after your laser resurfacing treatment. 

Needless to say, if you’re feeling uncomfortable or have any concerns, you can reach out to the team at Ascension Cosmetic Medicine in New Farm, Brisbane.

What is laser resurfacing and how does it work?

Laser resurfacing can address various skin concerns, like fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, age spots, and sun damage. It’s a precise procedure that targets specific skin problem areas without damaging healthy skin.

Here’s how it works: an experienced professional uses lasers to gently remove damaged outer skin. This encourages your body to create new, healthy skin in its place.

There are two types of lasers used for resurfacing: 

  • Ablative lasers (such as erbium and CO2 lasers) remove the outer layers of the skin. They vaporise damaged cells and promote the growth of new, healthy skin.
  • Non-ablative lasers (such as PicoSure Pro, Coolview Pigmentation and Vascular) heat up the underlying skin tissue (without harming the surface) to stimulate collagen production and skin rejuvenation. This means less recovery time but might require multiple treatments for best results.

Sr Scott Allison wearing protective glasses applies a laser treatment to a patient's face, showcasing a procedure that could prompt questions about healing time after laser resurfacing

Choosing the right type of laser resurfacing depends on your skin concerns, skin type, and desired outcomes. That’s why it’s important to consult with a qualified cosmetic physician or dermatologist. They can assess your skin and customise the treatment based on your needs and expectations.

How long does skin heal after laser resurfacing?

Healing isn’t overnight. It can take time depending on the type of laser treatment you went for.

Patients can expect different symptoms and recovery rates. And, of course, proper aftercare treatment is crucial for your healing.

Initial recovery phase — your first days

Non-ablative Laser – these types of laser treatment have minimal downtime. Experiencing redness, swelling, and a bit of a sunburn sensation are totally normal. It’s just your body’s way of kicking into high gear to heal the treated area.

Following pigmentation specific laser treatments, the skin will appear pink, resolving over the next few hours and up to 24 hours.

Brown spots and pigmentation may appear slightly darker and then flake off and fade. Your clinician can advise you on the best aftercare and may suggest mineral makeup to be applied afterwards to cover any redness.

C02 Laser Resurfacing – this ablative laser is a more intense skin rejuvenation treatment and requires 5-7 days of downtime, depending on the depth of the treatment.

The skin may also stay slightly pink for a month or so after healing is completed.

Think of it like a mini-battle zone where your body’s sending in reinforcements (extra blood flow) to clear out the damaged cells (oozing or crusting you might see). This might sound dramatic, but it’s actually a good sign. It means your skin is on the right track. 

To help soothe any discomfort and keep you comfortable, make sure to follow your clinician’s aftercare advice. Rest assured, you will be seeing your cosmetic physician or dermal clinician regularly post-treatment for check-ins. 

Transition and transformation phase — week 1 to 2

Week one and two are when your skin starts its amazing transformation. 

Depending on the laser treatment you’ve had, the outer layer of treated skin may present dry and textured, and you may notice some redness and darkening of pigment, ready to be metabolised from the body to reveal the fresh, regenerated skin underneath.

This is totally normal, so resist the urge to pick or scratch at the peeling skin, as tempting as it might be.

It is common to feel some itchiness after treatment, and in this case, we recommend taking an antihistamine, to reduce the discomfort. 

It is important to treat your skin with care in these following weeks, this is where a gentle cleansing routine and a light moisturiser come in handy.  Keeping the new skin hydrated is crucial to minimise itchiness and promote smooth healing.  Don’t forget the most important superhero during this phase: sunscreen

Think SPF 50+ every single day, even indoors near windows. The new skin is super sensitive to the sun, so give it the protection it deserves to keep that healthy glow.  

The finale — beyond week 3

This stage is where patience really starts to pay off, as the full effects of the treatment gradually come into view.

At the three-week mark after intensive laser resurfacing, such as C02, the initial redness and peeling start to fade. It’s as if your skin is slowly pulling back the curtain to show off its new, improved look.

It’s exciting to see, but remember, your recovery isn’t over yet. Your skin is still healing and adjusting to its new normal. To keep things moving in the right direction, stick with a gentle skincare routine. Keep hydrating your skin with a good moisturiser and protect it from the sun.

And, if your cosmetic physician or dermal clinician has given you specific aftercare products or instructions, now’s not the time to slack off.

You will start to notice that your skin feels softer and looks more even. Those fine lines and sun spots? They’re starting to fade into the background. 

It is at this point in your healing that you’ll see the effects of collagen remodelling from non-ablative lasers, and the pigmentation and redness will have subsided.

7 tips to speed up healing after laser resurfacing

Your aftercare routine is just as important as your laser resurfacing treatment. It helps prevent irritation, inflammation, swelling, and other unwanted effects. 

Follow these seven tips to heal faster and achieve that beautiful, youthful, and radiant skin.

Tip #1: cool the area down

After non-ablative laser treatment, your skin might feel hot and uncomfortable. It’s best to soothe the area to reduce inflammation, but do it gently.

You can use a soothing, cold compress such as a clean wet cloth. Rest it lightly on the affected skin to soothe the area, reduce inflammation, and calm your irritation. Be careful not to rub or pull on the skin.

Careful application of moisturizer on hands, a crucial step in post-treatment care, illustrating the importance of moisturization in skin recovery after laser resurfacing procedures

Tip #2: moisturise, moisturise, moisturise

After non-ablative laser treatment, your skin can feel extra dry and sensitive.

To hydrate it, use a “post-procedure” moisturiser. Ask your Clinician for recommendations, or look for one labelled specifically for this purpose. These moisturisers are usually rich in vitamins and minerals, free from fragrances and irritants. They’re designed to specifically speed up your recovery.

Avoid skincare products with actives such as retinoids, or exfoliating acids. These ingredients can be too harsh for your tender skin right now.

Tip #3: apply sunscreen religiously

Your skin is vulnerable and extra sensitive after laser treatment, which means it’s prone to sun damage and pigmentation. That’s why it’s important to protect it from direct sunlight and UV rays.

Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 50 or higher. Apply it every day, rain or shine. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen indoors too, especially if you’ll spend time near windows.

Tip #4: hydrate inside out

Healing isn’t just about what you put on your skin. It’s also about what you put in your body.

Drinking plenty of water helps flush out toxins and support the healing process. It helps support your skin’s elasticity and resilience, helping it bounce back faster from the laser treatment. 

Pair this with a top-notch moisturiser to lock in moisture from the outside.

Condensation on a transparent glass pitcher full of water, evocative of the hydration important for skin healing after laser resurfacing, placed on a wooden table in a serene hotel setting

Tip #5: avoid touching your skin

Resist the urge to poke or peel at your healing skin.

Peeling or poking your skin can lead to inflammation, infection, and scars.

Let your skin shed naturally and focus on keeping it hydrated. The more you leave your skin alone, the smoother and glowier it’ll be in the end.

Tip #6: eat nutritious foods

What you eat can influence how your skin heals.

Feeding your body with the right nutrients can help your skin heal faster after laser treatment.

Lean proteins, like grilled chicken or tofu, are packed with amino acids. These act like building blocks to help repair your skin.  

Also, don’t forget fruits and vegetables that are packed with vitamins C and E. They help boost collagen production and fight off free radicals that can slow down healing.

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and flaxseeds, act like natural moisturisers for your skin. They also help reduce inflammation and keep your skin supple.

On the other hand, processed foods and sugary treats can actually slow down your healing by triggering inflammation. So, to give your skin the best chance to recover quickly, stick with healthy, whole foods and limit processed food.

Tip #7: show up for follow-up appointments

Follow-up appointments help make sure you’re healing the right way. Use these visits to ask for personalised advice and adjustments to your post-care routine. This helps make sure you’re on the right track in healing.

These appointments also give your cosmetic physician a chance to monitor your progress and address any of your concerns.

So, make these follow-up appointments a priority. They’re an important part of achieving your desired results after laser resurfacing.

Why choose Dr. Scott Dr Allison for laser resurfacing?

Laser resurfacing isn’t something you want to leave to chance. It requires an experienced cosmetic physician with top-notch tools to get the best results safely.

Dr. Scott Allison and his expert team at Ascension Cosmetic Medicine is your ideal partner for beautiful, radiant skin. He has the expertise, compassion, experience, and technology to guide you to your skincare goals. Plus, he creates a comfortable environment to help you feel relaxed throughout the process.

Ready to take the next step? Contact Dr. Allison to schedule a consultation and discuss if laser resurfacing is right for you.