Smartskin CO2: Results Are a Little Better Than What I Hoped for - Fort Lauderdale, FL

Smartskin CO2 Fractional Ablative Laser...

Smartskin CO2 Fractional Ablative Laser Resurfacing Review
I will start by saying that despite some of the reviews and advertising out there, this is a serious procedure that can do much more than simply leave you looking as if you have “sunburn”. The procedure and recovery time are of course, much better than with traditional CO2 resurfacing. There are also many types of lasers out there, and the aggressiveness of the treatment will vary depending on your doctor, and the skin condition you´re treating. As a result, the reviews are varied. My advice is to obtain as much information as possible from your doctor´s office about what your specific recovery will be like prior to deciding to go through with this procedure.


I have been considering some form of laser resurfacing to treat what I consider to be severe acne scarring that I have had for almost 20 years (since my late teens / early twenties). I have tried other, easier, more superficial treatments (including prescription products, glycolic peels, and a series of microdermabrasion treatments) and nothing really made a difference. I have put off laser resurfacing for several reasons: It’s expensive, it does involve down time no matter what type of treatment you have, I was a bit afraid of the pain and discomfort, and mostly I was fearful of spending money, and experiencing discomfort, and in the end being disappointed with the results.


After going to several consultations, and always leaving thinking that I would not follow through with the procedure, I found a dermatology and cosmetic surgery center that I really felt I could trust. I had my first full face CO2 laser treatment at the beginning of February, 2013. My doctor´s office fully prepared me for what to expect before, during, and after the procedure, which I so much appreciated. It was recommended that I have multiple treatments for optimal results. I have not yet decided how many treatments I will end up having. That will depend on how pleased I am with the results of each treatment and how strongly I feel it is worthwhile to have additional treatments. Time will tell.


Here is my review of the first procedure:
The procedure: The procedure itself was a bit more painful than I was expecting it to be, despite the preparation I received from the medical staff. It’s hard to imagine pain in advance. I was prescribed antivirals and antibiotics to use before and after the procedure. I was also prescribed a water pill (for swelling), Ativan (for anxiety), and Vicodin (for pain) the day of the procedure. I have a very low tolerance for pain medications and have had bad experiences with them in the past. I did not take the Ativan, but the nurse talked me into taking half of the Vicodin, and although it did make me sick in the end, I´m glad she did. They applied a topical numbing cream to my face for about 40 minutes and I was then given a LOT of injections on my face to numb me further. Some of the injections felt OK and others were quite painful, but the process was relatively quick. The laser treatment itself was painful at times. Some areas numbed very well , but other areas were very painful, such as around my lips and especially around my eyes. The PA informed me that I could ask for a break if I needed one and she did a good job of telling me where she would be working and exactly what to expect. She gave me items to squeeze which at first I thought was strange, but in the end I realized were very helpful. She did two passes over my whole face and then an extra pass (3 total) over the areas with the most scarring.


Day 1: Immediately after the procedure my face felt very hot and was throbbing. I was very shaky, but otherwise I was ok. My face was so numb that I really could not move my mouth very well to speak. For the first two hours this is how I felt. Hot, throbbing, and uncomfortable. It also felt a bit weird while the numbing faded. After 3 hours, I actually felt much better - no real pain - and it remained this way until night time. I applied cold, wet, washcloths to my face and then applied an ointment to my face. I did this about every 2 hours throughout the first day. The doctor´s office provided me with a post op healing kit that contained a gentle cleanser, a serum, and the ointment. It was a bit pricey, but in my opinion worth every penny. Throughout the day and evening, my face became increasingly swollen and I had increased spots of pinpoint bleeding, but I knew this was normal. Unfortunately, in the middle of the night I woke up feeling very lightheaded and nauseous (I´m sure from the half a Vicodin I had taken) and got sick twice, which with the condition of my face, was a really unpleasant experience. Not a very good night.
Day 2: When I woke up in the morning my face looked and felt very disgusting! There was oozing and crusting and bloody spots and I was a little more swollen. I was allowed to wash my face (which was a really gross experience by the way) and after washing, applying the serum, and then the ointment, it looked and felt much better. I went in to the doctor´s office the morning of Day 2 for them to just check on me and to sit under an infrared light, which is supposed to help with healing (not sure it helped, but who knows). They said I looked better than what they would have expected, which made me feel very relieved. For the rest of the day, my face became increasingly red (very dark red, like a kidney bean) and the swelling continued to increase and increase and increase, but I felt pretty OK under the circumstances. I continued using wet washcloths dipped in cold water with some ice cubes and a little vinegar. I also placed a small pack of ice on top of the washcloths. I did this about every two hours, then went through the face washing, serum, and ointment routine. I did this throughout the day. I felt OK until it was almost time for bed and then the itching became pretty bad. It was definitely better than pain (and also was expected) but I hardly got any sleep that night due to the severe itching. I decided not to even try to sleep – I read and watched Netfix and dozed when I could. It wasn’t so bad.


Day 3: I was in much better shape in the morning. My face was still dark red and very itchy, but the swelling had begun to lessen a little and I began to feel like a normal human being again, even if I didn´t yet look like one! The main issue on Day 3 was the continued itching!!! I continued my washcloth, face washing, ointment routine throughout the day. In the evening some of the dead skin began to come off very easily during the washing routine, which was great. The itching intensified even more at this point. Unfortunately, I had another almost completely sleepless night as a result. I think at this point I had slept an average of 4 hours per night since I had the procedure. I still hadn’t taken anything at all (not even over the counter medications). I probably should have tried Benadryl.
Day 4: Once again, I woke up feeling and looking a bit better. The swelling had gone down even more. Throughout the day, more and more skin came off each time I washed. By the end of the day it was about 95% gone and I had brand new and very red (like almost cherry red) skin. I used a new serum included in my post op kit this evening. This serum seemed to soothe the itching a bit. The itching was still present, but it was fortunately less intense than yesterday. My husband went out and picked up some Benadryl for me, which I took about an hour before bed. It helped and I should have done this 2 days earlier. I finally got a decent night’s sleep!
Day 5: I woke up so much better and in a great mood today, because I could tell the healing process was well underway. I also think the good night’s sleep helped a lot. I had planned to return to work this afternoon, but unfortunately this really wasn’t possible. My face was still too swollen, so I decided to reschedule my appointments. By the afternoon 100% of the dead skin had come off. By the evening, the swelling appeared to have reduced quite a bit and the shape of my normal face was actually visible again!!! The skin was still so red, which I knew was normal.
Day 6:
Ahhhhh……I felt and looked almost just like me again. I was so relieved and my mood was wonderful at this point. My face was still itchy. I still used the ointment during the day while working from home and still washed every few hours (it just makes it feel better). In the afternoon, I changed to regular moisturizer, used my post op make up and WOW…..I was so happy with how I looked that I actually cried. I don’t know if it’s just because I had been so hideous looking for the last week or if the results really were impressive, but I was really happy with what I saw. I was able to work and although I know I still looked a bit odd (still a little swollen and my face wasn’t moving quite right yet, especially if I smiled), but no one seemed to notice. I used regular moisturizer this evening and slept soooooooo well and appreciated my night of sleep so, so much!
Day 7:
Finally I look like I have a sunburn (albeit a bad one) and my cheeks are still a bit swollen, but otherwise I’m back to normal. Using my soap, serum, and normal moisturizer. Still washing every few hours to help soothe the itching (which is still present but very much improved). Back to work and to my normal routine.
Day 15:
I felt a little bit disappointed with the results at this point since the swelling had completely gone down and, of course, the swelling had made the skin appear smoother. However, I took some pictures and compared them to my “before” pictures and I definitely can’t complain. The results are visible and at this point I feel very strongly that the procedure was worthwhile.
Day 21:
I now feel the results I see are the final results, since there is definitely no swelling left. I am pleased with the results and scheduled my second procedure for the first week of April. The second procedure will focus only on the most scarred areas, not the entire face. This is mostly to save a little money, and also I don’t know that it’s necessary to do the entire face again. I’m taking things one procedure at a time and will make decisions about future procedures as I go.
Day 30:
I have days when I feel a bit disappointed with the appearance of my face, and days when I feel the difference is truly wonderful. I still feel the procedure was worthwhile. My face overall is smoother and tighter. The scars are all still there but since the skin is smoother and tighter, they are less noticeable and almost look a little blurred. I have gotten a lot of compliments and people who do not know what I´ve done have asked what I´m doing differently. Several people have asked if I have changed my make up, which actually makes me feel good since I am wearing much less makeup now than before I had the procedure. I am satisfied enough to feel that this procedures was worth the discomfort, the time off from work, and the money spent. I plan to continue with the second procedue in a couple of weeks.
Helpful Tips:
First I want to thank those that provided reviews and helpful information on this site! I’m not sure I would have decided to go through with this procedure without those reviews, and I’m glad I did. Some of the tips (like the vinegar and water) I learned from this site and these tips were so helpful. The following are the things that really helped me get through this procedure:
Wet washcloths (a lot of them), ice, and vinegar
Cloth Headbands to keep the hair off of my face (and prevent it from getting too greasy from all the ointment).
Sterile gauze, which I would use to dab my face for the itching (you really want to avoid touching your face while it’s healing, and while the skin is so new).
Benadryl!!!! (next time I will start using it on the night of Day 2)
The post op kit from my doctor’s office – fantastic!
Good lip balm
Saline eye drops (my eyes got so dry, especially overnight).
Plain, fresh, low sodium foods and lots of liquids (to help reduce swelling)

Most importantly, it helps if you try to avoid scrutinizing your face on a daily basis! My face would change so, so much in the course of just a few hours. Over the course of a few weeks I went from looking horrible, to looking great, to seeing actual results (which are very good overall but not as good as the first couple of weeks after the procedure when my skin was stil so new and a little swollen). I tried very hard not to look too closely or to compare before and after pictures until at least 2 weeks passed, but it was hard. I am now 6 weeks post procedure and can say that for me, the ¨real¨ results were not evident until about 30 days after the procedure. Since then, my face has remained the same.
I am not posting pictures, but am willing to share them directly with others who message me. I am also willing to share my doctor’s name if asked. I will also do my best to post additional updates in the future. So many people post reviews of the few weeks after the first procedure and then don’t follow up. It would be great to hear from people 6 months or a year afterwards – I will do my best!

Smartskin CO2 update

It's been a while so I just thought I'd post an update. I've had 2 further treatments since posting my first review. The second treatment went very similarly to the first. Less swelling but more bleeding for some reason but the healing process was exactly the same and the results as far as minimizing the scars improved even more with the 2nd treatment. I'm still recovering from the 3rd treatment but I'm hopeful the results will be even better in a few weeks. I was reluctant to add photos, but I'm very thankful to those whose photos I was able to review before having my procedures, so.....attached is a set of before and after pics. Hopefully this will help someone out there. I'll update again in a couple of months.

Wrong doctor's name listed for me

I intentionally did not list a doctor's name in my review, but have provided it to anyone who has asked for it. Somehow there is a doctor listed for me in Bulgaria??? I did not enter this information. I do not know this doctor. I had my procedure done in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and have never been to Bulgaria.

I am now 2 months after my 4th, and hopefully final, procedure. I've had more improvement and am still very glad that I've had these procedures. For me, these procedures have drastically improved a condition that I had always thought was not correctable and that had always bothered me and made me. It's nice to have the scars be so much less visible and to feel so much better - not always trying to hide my face in any way possible! The cost and discomfort have been worth it for me.

Hopefully the inaccurrate doctor information can be corrected soon.

Be careful when posting pictures

The pictures I have posted on this site have ended up connected to a doctor, that wasy NOT even my doctor, on the internet. I have removed my pictures from realself and will never post pictures again, but the damage has already been done. I just thought others should be aware that this can happen. It´s unfortunate because pictures are so helpful to others who use this site for the right purposes, but the pictures we post on this site are typically not our most flattering, so I want others to be aware. Not to mention, I would never want my pictures used to advertise for a doctor that I have nothing to do with.

Advertising

Also, you should be aware that when you list a doctor on this site, or when another member of the community uses a doctor´s name in connection with your review, your review, and any related pics, may show up when others search the doctor´s name on the internet. This is obviously why another user constantly refers to her doctor in connection to my review. My review and pictures are now being used to advertise, through internet searches, for a doctor that I have no connection with. I have made Real Self aware of this, but not sure anything can be done to prevent this. I´m very frustrated at how my pics and review have been used and regret ever posting anything to this site.
Shino Bay Cosmetic Dermatology, Plastic Surgery, and Laser Institute

This place is wonderful. My procedures have been done by the physician's assistant, Amy. She has been truly amazing. I cannot say enough about her. All of my experiences with this office have been great. They do not always keep enough products in stock though, so if you need something for your procedure (pre or post) my advice is to just call ahead to make sure they have it.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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Comments (77)

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What brand of ablative laser was used? Can you repeat this same laser in only 6 weeks?
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Hi everyone,

I've removed a number of comments from this review because they're off-topic. This is FL1202's space to share her story and her experience. If you had a different experience, please feel free to share your story by writing a review.

Thank you!
--Sharon

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Thank you very much for your assistance. I really appreciate it.
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-:- Message from RealSelf staff -:-

This comment does not follow our Community Guidelines and/or Terms of Service. We reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.
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I don´t really care. He was not my doctor.
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Lol
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PERHAPS you should read the community manager review and try to comprehend it; quotation: "Your account has not been compromised; this was an error or our side that affected only your review and it has now been addressed." If you are unhappy with some other issues perhaps you should address them to a certain specialist and seek help. Best of luck!
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I have sought help. Yet you continue to use your doctor´s name in connection with my review AND the reviews of others, and as a result, our pics and reviews are showing up on internet searches for him. I will continue to seek help on this issue, because this is not right.
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And by the way, your response to me was pretty obnoxious. This is supposed to be supportive site for people who are considering procedures.
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Hi FL1202,

Thanks for letting us know.

Due to a temporary error your doctor information was displayed incorrectly for a few hours. We've fixed this now. Your account has not been compromised; this was an error or our side that affected only your review and it has now been addressed.

Thank you again for bringing it to our attention!

--Sharon

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This situation still doesn´t seem quite right to me. Someone else has been answering all comments and questions posted to my review and this person´s doctor is the doctor that ended up on my profile, so something strange has definitely been occurring. Thanks for you help.
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Thank you for clarifying fl1202. It seems like someone else took over your review. I also live in south Florida and wanted to know who your doctor was. I was really confused because the title said laser in Fort Lauderdale and then there was a dr in Bulgaria listed.
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Yes, someone has clearly taken over my review. Initially I thought it was due to confusion on the part of another user, but it's pretty clear now that it's intentional. Not sure why anyone would do this - maybe to promote a specific doctor, but people actually use this site to obtain helpful information (I know I did), so this is unfortunate. Initially I had not wanted to post my doctor's name, just to try to keep things as confidential as possible, but now I guess it's better than having someone else post information on my behalf. I went to Shino Bay Dermatology on Las Olas and they were great. I've tried to change this information in my profile but I haven't been able to do so yet.
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You should report any wrongdoing to the site.
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You look great!  Congrats! Try to email your community manager at real self for help in changing the doctor's name.
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-:- Message from RealSelf staff -:-

This comment does not follow our Community Guidelines and/or Terms of Service. We reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.
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I´ve been on this site for a while and never had this problem, so I don´t know if all of a sudden I´ve become completely unfamiliar with this site.....but why is someone else answering all comments that are posted to my review????? Why is my doctor information the same information as the person who is responding to my posts? Maybe I´m the one who is confused but this is getting uncomfortable. I´ll follow up with an email for assistance from a community manager.
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Anyone know how to change the doctor that is listed for me? The website is allowing me to edit a review of my doctor, but not the doctor's name itself - he is not my doctor and I did not enter this information!
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What a wonderfully well documented review, I am so impressed! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience with your treatment, it's very helpful! 

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Thank you for the good words! Any questions, pls, write, I can write you in details too.
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I'm a bit confused. I get comments that seem like they are intended for me, and then someone else responds to them. Maybe the comments were sent to multiple people, but now my doctor is listed as Dr. Julian Penev in Bulgaria and this is not correct. I did not enter this information. Anyway, I'll try to correct this but have not been responding to comments since this has all become confusing and also misleading.
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Your note is indeed confusing. My doctor is a laser specialist in dermatology named Julian Penev. I visited him several times on multiple conditions. Did you go to the same doctor. If not it is indeed misleading?
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If you go to "my profile" and update the review I believe you can change your doctor
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This confusing, let me look into this right away, thanks!

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Wow!!! Thank you sooooo soooo much for sharing your experience and your pictures with us! I am so thankful that you did!!!! I would love any future updates too like how your skin looks after the third session! I am going to have to do this myself and am wondering how many times I have to do it until the scars are only a taunting memory!!! You look amazing thanks again for sharing!!! :-)
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