How should I take care of my skin after laser resurfacing?

  • Immediately after treatment, the skin will be red and feel sensitive and sunburned. Five to 7 days after laser resurfacing, your skin may become dry and peel. New skin will form after the treated area has peeled. This skin will at first appear pink. It should begin to gradually lighten up.
  • Redness typically lasts 1 to 2 weeks and mild pinkness may be prolonged.
  • Immediately after treatment there may be pinpoint bleeding. There may also be some facial swelling, particularly around the eye area.
  • Cleanse the treatment area as instructed by your doctor.
  • Patients are encouraged to sleep on an extra pillow at night to help reduce the swelling for the first 4 days after the procedure.
  • You may apply a cool compress or a wrapped ice pack for 15 minutes every 1 to 2 hours as needed, during the first 24 to 48 hours.
  • Avoid activities that can cause flushing for 2 weeks after treatment.
  • Avoid aggressive facial treatments for 4 weeks and any topical products that may cause irritation for 6 weeks following treatment.
  • If blistering, crusting, or scabbing develops, call your doctor. Do not pick or attempt to remove scabs as this may cause infection or scarring.
  • Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly (or any occlusive moisturizer) or antibiotic ointment (such as bacitracin) to the area twice a day until the skin heals.
  • Daily sunscreen application is necessary after healing to protect the newly laser-resurfaced skin. A "broad-spectrum" sunscreen, which screens both ultraviolet B and ultraviolet A rays, is recommended after laser skin resurfacing. A sunscreen specifically formulated for use on the face should be chosen, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
  • Liberal moisturizer application is also recommended after healing. Patients may resume application of tretinoin or glycolic acid products around 6 weeks after laser resurfacing or as directed by a doctor.

Vinegar wash instructions

  • Make a vinegar solution with 1 teaspoon of white vinegar in 2 cups of water. Soak gauze in the vinegar solution and gently apply dripping wet to the treated areas allowing the gauze to remain in place for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Using gentle pressure, wipe the treated area using the gauze.
  • Keep in mind that serous (clear) drainage and/ or tiny areas of bleeding in the treated areas may be present on the day of surgery and 1 day after.
  • Avoid aggressively rubbing the treated area.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy