Ask any dermatologist or plastic surgeon when the best time of year is to do a laser (of any kind) and I guarantee you the answer will be a resounding, “WINTER!”
During the winter months, generally, skin is less exposed to the sun, which can easily undo what a laser just fixed. That’s not to say that the sun isn’t out and doing damage unto your skin from December through April, but it’s just that people are less likely to spend time in the sun (unprotected).
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No matter what type of laser you opt for this winter, taking care of your skin post-procedure is just as important as taking care of your skin every day.
Skin that has been "lasered" is sensitive, easily irritated and compromised. Washing the skin with cleansers that are harsh and stripping, like those that are acid-based or exfoliating, can actually damage your skin. You’ll want to keep your skin as clean as possible, which may mean limiting makeup (ask your doctor when you can start wearing makeup again and which formulas are best for you) and the use of your regular skin care products, especially those with ingredients like acids and retinoids.
If your skin is red and swollen after you’ve been treated, make sure to apply cold compresses and ice packs to the area, as this will help mitigate some of the inflammation. Sleeping in an elevated position with an extra pillow or two can help, too.
Colleyville, TX facial plastic surgeon Yadro Ducic, MD says what’s most important is moisture preservation. “Simple products like Aquaphor and various other occlusive moisturizers are all adequate,” he adds. A lack of moisture post-treatment can cause the skin to scab and may even delay (and in some cases compromise) the healing process. Torrance, CA plastic surgeon Linda Swanson, MD has patients use EltaMD Barrier Renewal Complex ($45) to help replenish moisture in their skin.
“Two weeks after the laser, patients are ready for manual skin exfoliation,” says Dr. Swanson. “I find that dermaplaning works well to help get all the additional transitional skin off and create a non-flaky appearance.”
Sun protection is of the utmost importance because skin is vulnerable in the healing phase. Failure to wear a good SPF can cause the treated skin to actually become more damaged than it was pre-treatment and also for dark spots to form. We like Bare Republic Mineral Face Sunscreen ($15), which protects against both UVA and UVB rays and offers an SPF of 30.