General Face Enhancement with Sciton Fractional Erbium YAG Laser for Ice Pick and BoxCar Acne Scarring - Cleveland, OH
I have had multiple lasers done in my 40 years...
- 10 Jul 2011
I have had multiple lasers done in my 40 years because of acne scarring over my face, but most aggravating over my upper lip where I have a plethora of tiny, deep, ice-pick scars.
My first laser was in my mid 20s (prior to fractional lasers) -- a full-face ablative CO2 procedure. It turned out nicely overall, but was extremely painful and really didn't impact the many deep ice pick scars above my upper lip well. I also believe that being young, and without having as much online information, my aftercare was poor. I plucked hairs that popped up in the area and popped pimples during the healing period. Ugh. I believe I scarred from these mistakes. So some of my scars were gone, but others reappeared. Hindsight is 20/20.
I went back for another full face ablative C02 perhaps 5 years later. My aftercare was slightly better, but I still plucked and popped a bit. Nice skin texture overall, but similar results as the first procedure.
In my mid thirties, I underwent a series of 5 Fraxel (non-ablative) procedures. Aftercare was easier and procedure was gentler, but was still left with scars.
5 days ago, I went in for a ProFractional Ablative (erbium YAG) laser treatment. My doctor (same who did the Fraxel) was *aggressive* on those acne scars -- and I wanted him to be.
Knowing what the pain was like from previous treatments, and mind you I'm no wimp, I asked for medication prior to the procedure. I received Valium and Vicadin, both of which I took at the doctor's office when the numbing cream was slathered on my face.
Although the medications definitely took effect, there was still mild irritation during his first, less aggressive, pass. He then switched to the "acne scar" attachment and upped the laser settings to go after those unrelenting scars on my upper lip, cheeks, and forehead. Only once before, during labor, have I ever been so thrilled to have the gift of medication.
The pain pushed through the drugs slightly, and I needed to tap my red-shoed heels together in order to try to take my mind off of it -- there's no place like home. I used my yoga breathing, and reminded myself that it wasn't so bad (it wasn't, really) and that the results would be worth it. I'm convinced that the medications allowed him to treat the scarred areas as deeply as he wanted without me jumping out of the chair.
After the procedure, I took a look in the mirror. Whoa! Well, I wasn't ground meat, but I looked like I was in a fight that the laser won. I was very bloody, a good bit swollen, and somewhat bruised. Although I wasn't expecting to look any better, it was interesting to inspect the damage.
When I returned home on day 1, I looked bloody. I'm a bleeder by nature, and with the assistance of Aquaphor, those little fractional ablations oozed across my face. Lovely. My face became a science experiment to me.
Day 2 was a bit better. I awoke to more healed, yet red / brown, somewhat crusty, tight and swollen face. I continued to lightly apply Aquaphor, and started to wash my face with Vinegar/Water solution. Although I have slight OCD tendencies, I was very careful not to pick, pluck, or scrub anything. I have learned from my mistakes. I hunkered down in the house all day knowing that my face would make grown men hurl and little children cry.
Days 3 and 4 were the apex of all things gross. I was very brown with minor swelling, skin that started flaking, crusty skin around the heavily treated areas, a yellow bruise under my eye, and red lines / dots covering the remainder of my face. Unfortunately my S.O. was pleading with me to go see a house with him (we're house hunting). After he was nearly jumping up and down with the excitement of a child, I decided to suck it up and head out with him after he promised to make sure to help me dodge people. I threw on a fisherman's floppy hat, my largest Jackie-O sunglasses, and tried to hide the remainder of my face with my long hair. I did it, and it wasn't so bad. My S.O. held up his end of the bargain and no one really saw me. Turning my head away from passing cars and pedestrians as we drove though was comedic because I realized how vain I was being. It was worth the temporary anxiety and felt great to get out of the house.
I'm now at the end of day 5, and wow, I'm impressed at how quickly the human body heals! I'm not looking great, but the ugly brown patchy flakes are gone thanks to Vinegar/Water solution, Cetaphil and thin applications of Aquaphor. I have also been somewhat more careful about what I eat -- I'm going for foods with high antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. I now look like I have a moderate tan (my pre-surgery complexion is light with neutral to yellow undertones) with red and pink splotches in the heavily treated areas. I still have the bruise under my eye. The swelling is nearly gone, and I have no more visibly open pin-sized marks.
I sent my S.O. into the store to get mineral foundation for me today -- Revlon ColorStay Aqua was as pure as he could get at the local corner store -- and I applied it. With it, I felt confident enough to finally go out to eat . . . in public! :) What a relief. I was going stir-crazy and felt nutty trying to hide from strangers. Nervous about my aftercare, I took it off immediately after returning to the safety of home and reapplied a light layer of Aquaphor.
So far, so good. Many of my scars aren't visible, and the remainder are looking much better, but I'm unsure if that will change over time. Perhaps I still have swelling in the tissues that are hiding the real results. Currently I'm very happy and hopeful that the Fractional YAG laser will do the trick. I'm anticipating that I'll want another treatment or two to put my scar ordeal to rest. I'm certain I will never have porcelain skin, but I'm excited about what I'm seeing so far.
Regimen and Items used:
Given my propensity toward breakouts, and not wanting to incur more scarring because of them during my healing period, I asked my P.S. for Antibiotics. (started about a week prior to the laser and will continue for a full month).
Because I occasionally get cold sores, for the same reason I asked for anti-viral medication (Valtrex -- 3 days before and 3 after. I still have some on hand in case of a flare).
The P.S. gave me Circadia Swich Vitamin Veil Cleanser and Swich Fraction V lotion to use starting day 2 through completion of the tiny bottles. I used these, but was convinced that I also needed Aquaphor. I switched back and forth between Swich Fraction V and very light applications of Aquaphor after face washes. I have been tolerating the Aquaphor in small doses well.
The P.S. assistant didn't mention vinegar/water wash, so I did. She said it wasn't part of their standard regimen, but that I could try it: 1 teaspoon of distilled vinegar to every cup of sterilized water. I soaked a clean washcloth with the solution and applied for up to 10 minutes a few times a day starting on day 2 through day 4 (until all the crusty bits were gone). I think it helped keep me from scabbing, which will hopefully keep me from acquiring new scars. I moisturized with Swich Fractional V or Aquaphor immediately after gently patting my face dry.
I have avoided working out, or doing anything strenuous at all. I don't wish to swell more, thank you.
I have avoided the sun and plan on getting some gentle SPF and moisturizer at my local love, peace and harmony store.
I have been eating a lot of berries, greens, and some fish. I have also been making daily breakfast smoothies from a little OJ, a lot of water and ice, a couple cups of fruit/berries, and a heaping tablespoon of Vitamineral Green (or whatever horribly tasting green, terribly good for you vegetable powder your local health store sells). I don't know if it helps, but I figure it can't hurt.
I plan to keep this thread updated with my progress.