Best Skin Aftercare Following Laser Resurfacing?

Is there anything special I need to do (or not do) to recovery skin after a laser skin treatment or increase the effectiveness of the laser treatment?


Doctor Answers 26

Recommended Aftercare following Laser Resurfacing

There are many ointments and creams available to use post-laser, with the primary goal to keep the skin moist and clean. For my patients, I recommend Aquaphor after a deep laser resurfacing procedure. Usually it is used until the the skin no longer appears raw (about 5 days). This is followed by a light moisturizer (both creams and lotions are fine). After 2 weeks, I would suggest the use of a moisturizer with sunblock (of SPF 30 or above) for 3 months. Please note that the face should not be washed until 2-3 days after the procedure and only a mild, non-drying soap should be used at that time. You can then dry your skin with gentle patting (not rubbing). I hope you find this helpful. Good luck. 

After Laser Care

My routine after a deep laser is:

  • Elta cream (a Vaseline type ointment) applied immediately after the procedure, keep reapplying as it dries out until you first get in the shower
  • Starting on day 2, the patient gets in the shower and gently washes the face (no soap) 4-6 times a day
  • Reapply the Elta cream after each shower
  • Keep this up until all the crusting, flaking and peeling is gone.  This usually takes 7-10 days following a deep Erbium treatment
  • Once the skin is not peeling anymore, you an apply a coverup makeup to hide some of the reddness
  • Moisturize with a very hypoallergenic lotion like Cetaphil
  • Keep using very mild moisturizers until the pinkness and reddness has faded (be patient as this can take weeks or even months)

John Bitner, MD
Salt Lake City Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Best care after laser treatments

Generally, after laser treatments, the most important thing you can do for about a week is to make sure the skin stays moist. There are a whole variety of things to do that from Vaseline to more complicated creams. About a week after treatment it’s important to start up with topical agents that maintain and further improve the results from the laser treatment. At the top of the list are products that contain glycolic acid and growth factors.

David Goldberg, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Post Laser Skin Resurfacing

It is very important to follow the aftercare protocols from your provider after laser skin resurfacing. I recommend Aquaphor to my patients because it has great healing properties for post-procedure skin. The ointment keeps the skin moist when reapplied often. After the epidermis has healed, the Aquaphor is substituted with less emollient agents. You should avoid the sun for one month.

David J. Sire, MD
Fullerton Dermatologic Surgeon
3.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Aftercare following Laser Skin Resurfacing

This answer to this question depends on the type of laser used. If its a superficial laser, less aggressive care is required. If its a deeper laser like Dual Pulsed Erbium or CO2 Full Face Ablative Resurfacing, then more aggressive care is required.

Because the Herpes virus can come out and infect the skin are laser treatments, I suggest using an Anti-Viral like Valtrex during the healing process.

I also like having my patients use a protocol of dilute Acetic Acid washes to clean the skin and fight infection followed by moisture trapping ointments like Aquaphor, Vaseline, or even Crisco.

After the skin is re-epithelialized, (i.e. no longer raw or weeping and instead pink and smooth) the sunblock and makeup can be used. For those at risk for hyperpigmentation, we will often have then on hydroquinones for a few months after the procedure.

I hope this was helpful.

Adam Scheiner, MD
Tampa Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Elevase Moisture Booster

Our moisturizer of choice after laser resurfacing is the Elevase Moisture Booster that contains opti-ceramides. Ceramides can strengthen your skin's natural moisture barrier and are thus great for the skin after resurfacing laser. 

Dr. Karamanoukian 
Los Angeles

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 70 reviews

Skin Care After Laser Resurfacing

As a general rule, after laser resurfacing the skin should be kept moist until healed. We use a special type of bandage for the first 24 hours called Vigilon and then after that an ointment called Aquaphor. But each doctor probably has a particular product or regimen that they prefer. By keeping the skin moist it heals twice as quickly as letting it dry out. Its an old wives' tale that you let the air get to a wound to speed healing; its just the opposite. After the skin is healed following laser resurfacing a continuing regimen utilizing a retinoid will help stimulate further collagen deposition and improve and maintain the result.

Andrew Kaufman, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Skin care after laser resurfacing

Skin heals best when it is kept moist.  The best way to accomplish that is to apply an ointment with no irritants in it, such as petroleum jelly (Vaseline) every two-three hours for three days after the procedure.

It is also extremely important to stay out of the sun while the skin is healing.  The skin has very little protection after a resurfacing procedure and may be damaged more easily by ultraviolet light.  In addition, exposure to the sun may lead to complications, such as hyperpigmentation.

After the skin is healed and all the scabs/crusts are gone, a good skin care regimen with a mild cleanser, a moisturizer and a retinoid cream will help maintain and improve the results of the procedure.

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Stay out of the sun before and after treatment plus...

  1. Stay out of the sun before and after treatment plus appropriate skin protection.
  2. Use constant application of gentle moisturizers every couple of hours after treatments.

Neil Sadick, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

In order to achieve optimum results from a laser...

In order to achieve optimum results from a laser treatment, follow the treatment with either a glycolic acid or retinol serum and a ceramide containing moisturizer.

Ava Shamban, MD
Santa Monica Dermatologic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 9 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.