Laser Resurfacing w/ Post-op Pain Medication?

I have a higher pain tolerance and I also do not take anything I don't have too, (other than antibiotics). I am wondering after laser resurfacing is it possible to not take ANYTHING after for pain (this includes ibuprofen, tylenol, vicodin, etc.)? I am sure there is some discomfort but can it be managed with just numbing cream?

Doctor Answers (14)

Laser Resurfacing has little or no pain afterward for most people

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One of our staff answering phones for our office had a deep laser procedure done on her face with a fractional CO2 laser, and she felt comfortable answering phone calls the same day - it was her choice, we didn't require her to work ( : 

This is a common experience with our laser resurfacing patients, that there is little to no physical downtime and little or no pain.  Though, there is significant social downtime, meaning you will not want to see other people for 3 to 10 days depending on the depth of treatment.

Keep in mind that a common complaint with laser treatments is that patients may not get the results they are looking for with "weekend treatments."  If you want a significant result in wrinkles or sun-damaged skin, you may require additional recovery.  An individual consultation can give you a better idea of what will work best for you.  Best of luck!


Tampa Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Pain with laser resurfacing

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Most of our laser resurfacing patients do not require any form of pain medication of their treatment. That said, some people do experience a little discomfort and acetaminophen is generally what we recommend or cool compresses. Sleeping on an extra pillow, and on your back, helps reduce any swelling and minimize discomfort further. Minimizing sun exposure during healing is important too.

Benjamin Barankin, MD
Toronto Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Pain Meds and Laser Resurfacing

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The degree of discomfort will be based on a number of factors including the areas to be treatment, the type of laser being used, and the pain tolerance of the patient. I have seen some patients need little or no medication and others who need more. Discuss your concerns with your surgeon. best wishes!

Michael Sullivan, MD
Columbus Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

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Pain medication after Laser Resurfacing

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Most patients do not require any pain medication after Laser Resurfacing. I have my patients use vasoline ointment for about three days and then wash their face lightly. Keeping the face occluded with vasoline helps lower any discomfort level. I do not use any numbing cream after surgery and do not recommend it. Most patients will have some mild swelling and they may experience some itching in the post operative phase. It is important that you tell your physician prior to surgery if you suffer from cold sores or herpes so you may be placed on the proper medication before your procedure. If not treated properly and you have a breakout then this will cause discomfort and you may require pain medication. I have all of my patients fill out a pre laser form with this specific question on it to avoid any unnecessary delay in healing.

Michael Elam, MD
Orange County Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 127 reviews

Pain medication typically not needed after laser resurfacing

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We offer mild sedation for Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing. We almost never need post-op pain medication even for those with lowest pain threshold. When there is pain after 48 hours, one should call the laser surgeon right away to be evaluated for possible secondary infection.

William Ting, MD
Bay Area Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Pain medicine often not needed after laser treatment

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Dear DeniJ,

Pain medicien pain not be needed after laser skin resurfacing.  It all depende on the individual's pain tolerance as well as the type of laser used and the depth and extent of resurfacing.  In my practice pain medicine is generally not required after a fractional co2 laser treamtent of the face.  Best of Luck

Mark Ginsburg, DO
Media Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Laser resurfacing: recovery is not painful.

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I have performed thousands of laser procedures over 26 years in practice. I can absolutely confirm that pain medication after laser resurfacing (including deep active fx laser) is not necessary.  Ninety percent of my patients don't even take a tylenol.  Only 2 have requested anything stronger than over the counter products.  In fact, pain after resurfacing should prompt evaluation by the physician because it can signal infection which needs treatment.

Susan Van Dyke, MD
Paradise Valley Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Pain Medications After Laser Resurfacing

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Most patients will not need prescription pain medications after a laser resurfacing procedure; some will need OTC products such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen.  I would not recommend using a numbing cream in the post-op healing phase.  

Timothy G. Rodgers, MD
Frisco Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Postoperative discomfort after laser resurfacing

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Pain tolerances vary from patient to patient. While it is possible to avoid pain medicine after a laser resurfacing procedure, sometimes advil or alleve is sufficient for the pain or plain tylenol. It also depends upon the depth of the resurfacing procedure. Keeping it covered afterwards with ointment helps to minimize the pain and yes you can use some numbing creams but you have to be careful not to use too much as it can have side effects. Good luck with your procedure.

Scott Trimas, MD
Jacksonville Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Laser resurfacing patients normally do not find recovery painful

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Most cases of resurfacing do not involve painful recoveries. In fact, sudden pain in the recovery phase can be a warning of viral infection such as a cold sore virus in the skin. There may be discomfort from swelling and itching but pain is more rare. Appropriate wound care is extremely important and moist treatment helps a great deal. Usually this applies for medium depth chemical peels, dermabrasion, carbon dioxide ablative laser resurfacing and fractional ablative carbon dioxide CO2 laser resurfacing. Fraxel Restore is a nonablative erbium laser which is more gentle and its recovery does not involve pain and the treatment is tolerable without pain medication but Fraxel Repair requires pain medication during the treatment usually.  You should not use a topical anesthetic after treatment as it can cause a lot of burning, an allergic contact dermatitis and serious toxicity from absorption.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.