My Erbium Laser Resurfacing Treatment: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, The New
By Debbie Lavdas
Everyone wants dewy, fresh skin. But what lengths you’ll go to get it depends on you. You can do facials (good), peels (better), or seriously turn it up with a laser resurfacing (best), which I recently did. Laser is the only way to actually stimulate your skin to start producing collagen. So you deeply resurface the dead skin and promote new “baby skin.”
It’s no secret that I’m usually a go-big or go-home kind of gal. If I’m going to do something, I’d rather not mess around and just go all in. So when it came to a refresh of my face—after sunning with baby oil in the 80’s, the deep lines from my three (adorable) children and not following proper skin care over the many years—I decided to skip the baby steps and go straight for the big guns with Dr. Bernette of CosmetiCare.
As mentioned, Erbium Laser Resurfacing promotes your body to actually produce collagen over the next 9-12 months, it tightens the skin, helps with draping, it smooths and removes superficial lines to moderately deep wrinkles, and has fewer side-effects and a more rapid recovery than the next option : a CO2 laser, which basically “burns your face off” and is done in an operating room. After that, the other options all require going under the knife.
8 THINGS TO KNOW:
1. Trust your doctor or medspa nurse. This seems like a no-brainer, but there are plenty of specials out there and many medspas (especially in OC), so be sure you feel good about what’s about to go down. Laser Resurfacing can go too deep or cause hyper pigmentation.
2. It gets worse before it gets better. Below pic of me is at about day 4, the height of the “glamour.” (Can you even believe I posted this photo? I can’t). The redness cranks up, scabbing starts and bruising from any pre-procedure numbing shots shows like a prized fighter (you shoulda seen the other medspa girl, right?). I took sequential photos, but this is really all you need to see—the height of it all. You’ll start like a sunburn, fire up to this level seen here, then dissipate until the 7th day. Also, you’re going to be a Hot Mess for a week, so broom your calendar to stay home—seriously. (You’ll have glossy aquaphor over your face continuously for a week to protect the skin too, and that is not a good look: greasy, vaseline-like hair etc.)
Before you get lasered, you’ll have numbing cream on your face for an hour, and also often get numbing shots (up to 10 shots so your doctor can laser deeper). Dr. Bernette did two full passes on my face.
Day 1: You look sunburned, and be repaired to see a pixel pattern all over your face from the laser. Take Tylenol and keep a fan by your bed to blow cool air on you. Day 2: brown spots start scabbing, some peeling begins. Don’t wash your face till later. Day 3; gets itchy, more peeling. Day 4: the max for me, I started a rash too and I was prescribed a steroid, but I didn’t take it; used some hydrocortisone cream though. Day 5: I turned the corner, was less red, had less itching and the bruising started to yellow. Day 7: my recheck visit. No more Aquaphor and I even hit the gym. WOOHOO! Still no sun (for 1-2 months).
3. Be prepared ahead of time. Bring a big hat for your ride home and for weeks later. (I forgot to buy one so my daughter had to go out and text me pics (her on the left). She did good (me, later on the right). No hats with holes though!
Have a driver to take you home; you can’t drive. Dress comfy (a dress is easy to pull over your head later). Bring Tylenol (or something stronger if you have it to calm nerves). Have Cetaphil on hand to wash your face. Aquaphor will be your best friend, and literally be on your face for 7 days nonstop. Arnica tablets help if there’s bruising. Get that bedside fan to cool you. Get a good sunscreen for later (Elta MD is dreamy). Have Vitamin C on hand to amp the collagen production: 500 mg, 2 x a day.
4. Avoid the sun for several months. This was me on Easter and my “undercover” look for a long time after.
5. Know that you’ll get back out there again, and can enjoy the sunshine at will. I slowly started to get back out there, but still ALWAYS sport sunglasses (kind of my trademark) and religiously use the Elta MD sunblock every day.
6. Keep balance. Remember your body, not just your face. Dr. Bernette said something that really stuck with me: “So many women often take really good care of their face… or their body. It’s so important to do both.” After about a week of resurfacing after the treatment, I returned to my Pilates.
7. You’ll see fresh skin emerge. Sorry I don’t have a glam after-photo, but this was one of the few photos I could find to show my skin, without my big sunglasses on. This is me recently, after the gym, with light makeup in my RX glasses (that of course also transition into sunglasses). Anyway, as you can see, I healed well. I now follow a certain is Clinical skincare line + sunblock. I’m still peeling (after two months now, and moisturizer is indeed my bestie).
2 months later with new “baby skin” and a fresh glow.
8. Ask friends what treatments they’ve tried and for names they trust. It’s like insurance for you face and peace of mind.
So, in a nutshell for me: “THE GOOD”: was the experience and that my skin has dramatically been given an overhaul! “THE BAD”: is the downtime, but recovery is much faster than CO2. “THE UGLY”: day 4, it goes without saying, right? … Like Cinderella before the ball! “THE NEW”: I’m producing new collagen and will for many more months to come!