What are the possible side effects?
- Milia, which are small white bumps or cysts, may appear in the laser-treated areas during healing. These may be removed by gentle cleansing with a washcloth or by a dermatologist in the office by nicking the surface with a blade and expressing the cyst material out of the skin.
- Acne flares may occur after laser resurfacing. This may resolve on its own, or can be treated with conventional acne therapies.
- Hyperpigmentation, and more rarely, hypopigmentation, may result in the laser-treated areas. In general, the hyperpigmented areas may be treated with bleaching cream to ease fading of the pigment. Hypopigmentation is more difficult to treat.
- Reactivation of a herpes simplex cold sore may occur, especially after laser resurfacing around the mouth. This can be prevented by giving an antiviral medicine prior to the surgery and continuing it for seven to 10 days post-procedure.
- Bacterial infections can be prevented by taking an antibiotic prior to the surgery and continuing for seven to 10 days post-procedure.
- Postoperative swelling is to be expected and is lessened by administration of intramuscular steroids.
- Patients are encouraged to sleep on an extra pillow at night to help reduce the swelling. Ice pack application is also helpful in the first 24 to 48 hours.
- Scarring, although very rare, may occur in laser-treated areas.
- Cessation of smoking is highly recommended because of its documented harmful effects on the healing process.