No Light At the End of This Laser!
I'm a white 52 year old woman. I have had acne scaring since I was 13. In my twenties and thirties I would get that once a month dreaded whopper of a zit prior to my period leaving yet another deep pitted scar almost each month. Do the math on that one! I had my first and only child at 37 it was only then that the acne finally stopped. Mine must have been very hormonal in nature. I have done some modeling and local TV and was always very self conscious about the appearance of my face. Five years ago never having any surgery or cosmetic procedure I decided to do something I had always dreamed of doing - improve the texture of my face. I had it done by a very renowned Chicago Plastic Surgeon. After a consultation he advised me this was the only way to go for my deep scarring. I asked about dermabrasion and CO2 but he said those were old and not really used anymore and this was the way to go. The procedure was relatively new and I was told that the laser was The Doc's "new baby"! That should have been my first hint. Nothing like being a guinea pig for your very first cosmetic procedure! I felt for many of you who described the procedure as being very painful. My guess it you may not have a high pain threshold and thiner skin. Fortunately for me I literally have thick skin and a very high tolerance for pain. The procedure itself was not painful, it was the few hours after. Imagine your worst sunburn on and amplify that by 5. I think people thought I was crazy as I drove home in Chicago with all the windows down in the middle of January, but the cool, crisp air was refreshing and a distraction from the pain. Hint bring some Ibuprofen with you and take it before you leave the office. It will help with the swelling and the pain once the numbing cream wears off.<br/>Also make sure you have ice packs or the equivalent waiting at home and be diligent about icing every 20 minutes or so. I'm not going to lie my face looked like I had been in a minor fire. Since I responded so well due to my thicker skin, they went on a higher lever during my first treatment. I had it done on a Wednesday and by Friday was able to go to dinner and a movie with what looked like a minor sunburn. Pealing was very minor and much like the other gals it was brown in color. I found Aquaphor (found at your local drugstore) helpful in preventing infection and keeping the skin moist post lasar to be most helpful. Prior to my fist vist they took a photo of me as they wanted to use me in their marketing materials for a before and after results photo and I agreed to this. After 5 treatments over a span of 6 months I saw improvement of about 25%, which now years later have all but disappeared and most of the deeper scars are all back. Also, oddly I had never had broken capillaries, and they started to appear around the thinner areas of my face right after the first treatment. When I mentioned this, they admitted that sometimes this laser can do that. They suggested that I could have another type of laser treatment to get rid of those! Unreal huh? For about the first year I felt it was much improved, but I'm not sure if that was the Fraxel or the Botox and Restylane I was talked into during one of my subsequent visits. In retrospect, when these new procedures come out the Doctors are very excited about them, but the truth is they really don't know what the long term outcome will be for the majority of the patients. Five years later if I were to do it over again for me and my types of scaring, I would and should have had a more invasive procedure like dermabrasion followed by a strong chemical peel. In fact at a conference about a year later I met another Plastic Surgeon, with whom I consulted with. He was shocked by the other doctors choice for my particular scarring. Another hint- always get a second opinion! Oh yeah... remember the "before" picture they took and wanted to take the after? Guess what? They never asked to take the "after picture" for the practices' marketing collateral. I will let you guess why...Remember what I said about being a guinea pig! Seriously, I think for very minor scarring this may work, but for moderate to severe... not so much folks.