Is there any skin concern a laser resurfacing treatment can’t fix? Often, it seems like the answer is no. Lasers such as Fraxel can help smooth skin, reduce wrinkles, and fade dark spots. Some types of laser treatments are designed to remove unwanted hair and others will get rid of unwanted, visible spider veins.
While lasers are great for improving your skin, they aren’t the right choice for every patient. In some cases, you’re better off skipping laser treatments all together. In other cases, you might want to postpone the treatment for a bit. Here are four instances when you’ll want to avoid a laser treatment.
You Have a Cold Sore
If you have the herpes virus, getting a laser treatment is likely to cause a flare up afterwards. Your surgeon will most likely give you an anti-viral medicine to help reduce the risk of developing a cold sore after treatment.
But if you have a cold sore that pops up a day or so before your scheduled treatment, it’s a good idea to reschedule. To avoid potential discomfort and minimize the risk for additional flare-ups, it’s best to wait until the cold sore is gone before your treatment.
You Have a Dark Complexion
Although lasers aren’t off-limits to people with darker skin like they were in past, there are some risks and considerations it’s worth thinking about if you do have a darker complexion. Lasers work by having the skin cells absorb energy from the light beam. That can destroy the cell, which is often the point.
People with more pigment in their skin are more likely to absorb more energy from the lasers, which can complicate matters. Instead of that excess energy simply being absorbed by the other skin cells, it can cause side effects such as skin darkening and blisters.
In the case of laser hair removal, some types of lasers are often better suited for people with dark skin than others. For example, longer pulsed light treatments often provide better results while intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments can occasionally lead to burns and scarring in people with darker complexions.
You’re In the Middle of a Breakout
Although some lasers are designed to treat acne, if you’re in the midst of an intense breakout and have more than a pimple or two on your face, you might want to postpone or rethink treatment. The intensity of some laser treatments can put you at an increased risk for infection if performed when you have active acne.
Along with putting you at a higher risk for infection, acne can interfere with lasers in other ways. Depending on what you are using to treat the acne, your skin might have trouble coping after the treatment. For example, the medicine Accutane, which is used for acne, can increase your risk for side effects after lasers and can slow down your skin’s ability to heal. If you’ve been using Accutane, your surgeon will most likely ask you to wait at least 18 months before you schedule any type of laser treatment.
You’ve Just Had Another Treatment
People often talk about combining skin treatments to get the best results. But if you’ve just had a chemical peel or microdermabrasion, it’s best to hold off on considering treatment with lasers. The reason is pretty simple: you don’t want to over-exfoliate your skin. After a peel or microdermabrasion, your skin will be fairly delicate for a few days.
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to wait at least three months before getting a laser treatment after you’ve had another type of skin resurfacing treatment. The exact length of time you should wait depends on the depth of the first treatment. In the case of a very superficial peel, you might be ready for another treatment after just a month. But deeper peels usually require at least three months.
About Dr. Rubinstein
Dr. Ran Y. Rubinstein offers a variety of laser treatments and other skin resurfacing options at Laser & Cosmetic Surgery Specialists, PC in Newburgh, New York. A board certified facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Rubinstein can help you understand what skin concerns lasers can treat and whether a laser treatment is right for you at the moment. He can also provide guidance and advice about other treatments to consider instead. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Rubinstein, call 845-863-1772 today.