I consider myself to be very diligent in my skincare routine. For the past 10 years, I’ve never gone anywhere without sunscreen, I always use an antioxidant serum, and religiously apply my retinol. Despite all this, I still have spots on my face from the sun damage of my youth. Before marrying a dermatologist and reforming my ways, I was a wild child in the sun. While those unprotected beach days are fading from my memory, the sunspots are a constant reminder. My savior has been the Fraxel® Thulium laser, which I get every fall to get rid of those spots — it’s as close as it gets to a time machine to undo sun damage.
[Editor's note: Retinol shouldn't be used by those who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use. And, as always. talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment.]
The laser works by creating microscopic damage to the skin, then letting it heal itself up prettier than when it started. My husband explains to me that it is what is called a "nonablative" laser, which means that it leaves the top layer of the skin alone, and instead targets damage deeper in the skin. Having had three of these treatments, I know what to expect and how to care for your skin afterwards. So here are my top five tips for you to follow after your Fraxel laser (or any resurfacing laser) appointment.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Immediately after the Fraxel laser treatment, your skin will look red and swollen — as if you had sat in the sun all afternoon with no sunscreen. Hydration is key to help protect your skin as it heals itself. Your doctor may recommend over the counter creams or give you a prescription, but I personally used Alastin Skincare® Regenerating Nectar ($195) afterwards (I also applied it for a week before to help prep my skin). It contains a peptide that helps the skin produce healthy collagen and elastin, and can also speed recovery after the laser. (You can only purchase it directly from your doctor or through Alastin’s website by selecting your doctor's name.)
Don’t peel or pick.
After about 24 hours, your red, swollen skin starts to settle and turn brown. Up close you can see thousands of tiny brown dots, but from a distance you just look like you have a dark tan. Over the next few days, the top of the skin gets very dry and starts to crumble off. As tempting as it is to help the peeling along, pulling off skin that isn't ready to come off can lead to infections or discoloration.
Sunscreen is more important than ever
Hold off on your regularly scheduled skincare routine.
Do NOT wear your sunglasses!
So there you have it: dermatologist-approved, DermWife-tested tips to make sure you protect your face properly after your Fraxel laser appointment.
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