Understanding Laser Surgery
Lasers are medical devices which produce high-energy, focused beams of intense, “single-colored” light and heat which have been found – through ongoing research and extensive clinical experience – to selectively interact, in very useful ways, upon various tissues within the skin and body. The amount and distribution of energy in laser light is more precisely delivered – over mechanical application of a scalpel or topical chemicals – for the successful treatment of many aesthetic and medical conditions.
“About the time I realized that my regular workouts weren’t going to reverse these signs of aging, I became aware of laser resurfacing. Now, after full-face resurfacing, the lines are much less noticeable, and my skin looks young and fresh again. It’s just what I needed to get me over the hump of turning 40.” – t e r r i s p ec k , a g e 4 0
Types of Laser Surgery
Laser Skin Resurfacing
Lasers can be used to reduce wrinkles around the lips or eyes, even the entire face, softening fine wrinkles and removing certain pigmentations and other colored blemishes on the face.
Laser Removal of Birthmarks and Skin Lesions
Port-wine stain birthmarks respond remarkably well to laser treatment. The abnormal blood vessels that cause these marks are reduced in size by the laser. This results in a lightening of the treated area. Skin growths, facial “spider veins,” warts, and some tattoos respond to laser surgery. Most situations take more than one laser treatment, but some respond to a single treatment.
The facial plastic surgeon often uses the minimum laser intensity possible. The low intensity requires many treatments. However, the low intensity also preserves as much of the healthy tissue as possible. This produces an aesthetically pleasing result. Many of these laser surgeries are performed as outpatient treatments in hospitals or offices.
Laser Hair Transplants
In this procedure, lasers are used to prepare the area where the hair transplants will be placed.
There are constant technologic advances which lead to even new applications of future generations of lasers. Please ask your doctor to discuss the latest advances with you.
Understanding the Surgery
After your surgeon has indicated that a laser can be helpful in the surgery, your surgeon will explain the laser of choice and what can be accomplished. As with all surgery, the laser has its limitations. Often the results are very good. Your surgeon will give you the best judgment for the particular procedure.
Some surgeons may use local anesthetics to numb the treated area before the surgery. Surgery can sometimes be done in the surgeon’s office; other times the surgeries are performed in outpatient facilities at a clinic or hospital. Your surgeon will decide on the appropriate method, dictated by the nature of the surgery.
Because safety is a major component of laser use, your surgeon will describe safety precautions before the surgery.
Skin resurfacing removes the epidermis and penetrates into the papillary dermis, which responds by producing new collagen.
A number of techniques are available today that enable facial plastic surgeons to treat a wider range of skin problems than ever before.
What to Expect After Laser Surgery
After the surgery, you will probably experience some swelling and skin redness for several days. Antibiotic ointments may be used during the healing process. It is important for the patient to follow all the post – operative directions of the surgeon, particularly in using sunblock and avoiding sun exposure.
The full impact of the laser may not be apparent for a month or two, especially with vascular deformities. Additional treatment sessions will not be scheduled until the healing process for a particular treatment is complete.
It is important for the patient to realize that lasers have specific applications. The facial plastic surgeon is experienced in the use of the laser and is the best source of information as to whether laser surgery is appropriate for your condition.
Insurance does not generally cover surgery that is done purely for cosmetic reasons. Surgery to correct or improve congenital deformities or accidental skin injuries may be reimbursable in whole or in part. It is the patient’s responsibility to check with the insurance carrier for information on the degree of coverage.