What are the side effects of laser resurfacing?


Quick Answer

Potential side effects of laser resurfacing include infection, changes in skin color, itching and swelling, according to Mayo Clinic. The procedure is not for everyone. Candidates should discuss the risks as well as the benefits before proceeding with laser resurfacing.

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Full Answer

Laser resurfacing removes the outer layers of skin to create a new, smoother surface on the face. However, this outer layer is a primary protection from germs. Abrasive laser resurfacing opens the patient to bacterial, fungal and viral infections. The herpes virus is the most common infection, explains Mayo Clinic.

The procedure may cause the skin to lighten or darken. If the complexion is already dark, it often becomes darker. Topical use of retinoic acid or glycolic acid helps to lighten the skin if it doesn't return to normal on its own. If the skin lightens after the procedure without going back to normal, finding an appropriate treatment is more difficult, according to Mayo Clinic.

Itching and swelling during the first few days after the procedure are common, reports Mayo Clinic. While these symptoms usually go away quickly, the skin often remains red and irritated for several months. Patients that previously had rosacea or contact dermatitis are more likely to experience problems with long-lasting redness.

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