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Laser Skin Resurfacing 101

Effectiveness of Laser Skin Resurfacing

Laser skin resurfacing -- sometimes referred to as a type of skin rejuvenation -- is thought to be effective in improving the appearance of skin, but perfect results are not guaranteed [source: AAFPRS]. Some plastic surgeons say they find laser resurfacing is less invasive, offers more predictable results and can sometimes heal more quickly than other abrasive treatments, such as chemical peels or dermabrasion [source: Goldman].

Skin tone and type, ethnicity, existing skin damage and skin health are factors that contribute to the level of effectiveness one can expect from laser skin resurfacing [source: AAFPRS]. Also, a doctor's previous experience with the technique and the facilities both can affect the results. It's the patient's responsibility to ask questions and become educated about the procedure beforehand. Be aware of the risks and have realistic expectations prior to surgery.

Not everyone is a candidate for laser skin resurfacing. Those with dark complexions might want to avoid the procedure because the facial skin typically will be lighter than the rest of their body for up to a year. If you scar easily, or are on medication, that could also have an effect [source: Goldman].

After the treatment, you should expect at least a few weeks of recovery time. The treated area might need to be bandaged, and it could swell, form scabs and be uncomfortable for up to about 10 days [sources: Goldman, Mayo Clinic]. The skin might be a bright pink for at least few weeks and will likely be extremely sensitive to direct sun for up to a year, so physicians recommend using at least an SPF 30 sunscreen.

Some of the greater risks associated with the treatment are hyperpigmentation (skin that's darker than normal), hypopigmentation (skin that's lighter than normal), and cold sores if you have the herpes virus [source: Mayo Clinic].

More than one treatment might be recommended, and the procedure could need to be repeated as you age and acquire new facial lines [source: Mayo Clinic].

All this in the name of youth and beauty. But how much does the appearance of youth cost? Find out on the next page.