I am so glad to have found this forum...Wish I would have found it prior to my DOT laser treatment to have a bit more realistic idea of what to expect. I want to record my experience here for the benefit of anyone looking into it.
My main goal in having this done was to treat the smoker's wrinkles around my mouth. I quit about 3 years ago, and this year, for my 61st birthday, my four daughters gave me the gift of this treatment. Luckily I am in good health, but very self conscious of those deep lines. Also have some skin laxity, large pores, old acne scars, and a few brown spots. In addition to the DOT, I wanted a small ice pick scar removed, (just a term for a deep pit scar) which requires a surgical cut through the center and a couple of stitches.
Found a doc highly recommended by many sources.
My proceedure was yesterday at noon. First thing in the morning I took my first of a 21 day prescription for Methylprednisolone 4 mg. This was to help with swelling. I was a bit reluctant to take these, and thought at the time I may only take just that one if my swelling wasn't bad. They also prescribed Valtrex as a preventative for the possibility of cold sores after the proceedure. When I questioned the doc he said even people who have never had cold sores can get them after DOT. I did some research on the drug and decided I did not want to take it. Let's hope this decision doesn't come back to haunt me!
After checking in, I sat down with the nurse and went over the recovery process. She likened the whole thing to a bad sunburn. Shudder. I avoid the sun because I absolutely hate the feeling of burned skin. She had a little bag for my post proceedure care with soap, moisturizer and hydrocortisone ointment 1.0%. She then slathered my face, neck and upper chest with the numbing cream and covered it all with saran wrap. Then I just waited for about an hour for it to become completely numb.
First thing done was the ice pick scar. No big deal. Then the laser. While I can't say it was pain free, it wasn't so bad. While one doc did the laser, another held a hose which blew cold air (had a bit of an alcohol smell?) over the area. Nasty smell of burning hair. As he worked he conversed with the two fellows (docs in training) present about the proceedure. At one point, about the time the first area treated was beginning to throb, he was talking to them about the pre-op preparations for the DOT, and mentioned the numbing cream and the valium and vicodin. I asked when do I get the valium and vicodin, and he stopped and said I should have gotten them when I first arrived. Offered to stop the treatment if I wanted to take them and wait while they took effect, but I thought the numbing cream would be wearing off during that period so told him go ahead. A bit further into the process I asked for the vicodin. The whole thing took about 30 minutes or so. Pain level of proceedure not that bad but burning sensation increasing quickly. Hoping the vicodin will kick in soon.
Finally back home. Getting more uncomfortable by the second. I consider myself to have a high pain tolerance but I really don't like this feeling. My face isn't that red, mainly notice the swelling arount my mouth and eyes. Throbbing and hot.
I spent the rest of the day on the couch with my daughter waiting on me. Feel very tense - my whole head feels clenched and tight. Mixed up some organic aloe juice and water in a little spray bottle which cools and comforts me but still cant relax. Daughter offers me a Vicodin and I accept. This is really hurting. My face continues to redden and swell, even a bit of blood on my chin. Did not expect this level of discomfort but I don't regret doing it. I believe the results will be worth it.
Another daughter brings me an aloe plant . I begin applying that and feel a bit soothed. Instructions warn not to let the skin dry out so I am constantly spraying and fanning and moisturizing.
Took another vicodin and finally fell asleep around midnight. Sleep fitfully, on my back. Body chilled, face and neck hot. Not a great night.
Day 2: Woke this morning with tight swollen skin, red as a lobster. I can feel small bumps (blisters?) all over. Decided to continue taking the prednisone prescription. Pain a bit better but can't seem to unclench my jaw. Writing this to take my mind off the discomfort. I feel like such a baby...everything I read said this was like a bad sunburn. Do others go through this like a breeze? Thought I was tough.
Post instructions say to use cold compresses a few times a day. I would advise finding some lightweight gel packs and eyepacks for this. I'm surprised they dont develop a face pack to cool the skin. Wish I had thought about this before hand. Daughter is looking at the drugstore for something.
Hoping this will be the roughest of the recovery period. I look bad, and would never consider going out at this point. Wonder what I'll look like on Christmas day!
Just called the doc's office to inquire about getting some pain pills. Also worry about the instructions to not let the skin dry out. That is proving to be difficult!
I will update as things progress. I want to say, I am not writing this to scare anyone off the DOT therapy. I feel very hopeful that this will have a wonderful result. I do wish I had realized the possible reactions - I would have waited until after the holidays to have it done.
Best to all!