This is very long, but I wanted to share my experience as intimately as possible:
I had a non-ablative procedure done over a year ago (at a medical spa and NOT done by a dermatologist). It looked great - for about 3 days, then the swelling went down and I looked worse! I was very disappointed (spent almost $400).
I did some more research with local dermatologists and found one that did cosmetic work. I went to her for a consultation (January 2012) and she told me that indeed, to get results, I needed something more aggressive and suggested the ablative procedure (Profractional along with MPL). I had read about it and was hesitant to do it since there was so much downtime, but couldn't get it out of my mind! So, in December 2012, I made an appointment to get it done.
Fortunately, I work for a school, so we get a good bit of time off around Christmas (hence the reason I decided to wait until now to have the procedure).
I am 37 years old and have wrinkles all over my face. Most of it was my fault; I used to smoke (amazing what smoking does to your skin) and some of it was genetics. I am also very fair, so all those years in the sun, getting burned to get that tan (which I never got – just burns!), also took a toll on my face. I have gotten to where I did not even want to go out socially as I was so conscientious about how I looked. I would see all these women with beautiful skin and it realy depressed me. It was time for a change. I set up the procedure for 12/12/12.
I went in for my final consultation about a week before the procedure. I chose to get a very deep procedure all over my face and eyes. They gave me a prescription for Valtrex. Though I have never had a cold sore, the nurse said some people break out with them post-procedure, and this was a preventative measure. She also told me to purchase Aquaphor to keep my face moisturized. I was told I would be given Demerol and would need someone to pick me up.
The days before the procedure, I went and did everything I needed to do that I knew I would be too embarrassed to go out in public post procedure. I got the oil changed in my car, tires rotated and balanced, stocked up on groceries, bought cat food, got prescriptions filled, etc. Think of everything you may need to do because you may not want to leave the house for a few days!
Day of procedure (Wednesday, 12/12/12)
I arrived at 1:30; the procedure was not to begin until 2:30. They gave me 2 Demerol, 2 Valium, and 2 of something else. The nurse cleansed my face with a special soap and then applied a topical numbing cream. None of it kicked in – they waited as long as they could. Weird, huh? Some pretty serious drugs and I didn’t feel a thing. Anyway, they started first with my eyes. They put these special metal-type contacts in your eyes to keep the laser from blinding you and getting anything in your eyes. OH MY IT HURT!!!! Don’t do that if you have a low pain tolerance!!!! All I could think was how much I was paying to have this done and just sucked it up. Once that was done, the rest was cake. I think my skin is pretty tough from all the years in the sun and smoking – it was uncomfortable for sure, but not near like it was around my eyes.
The doctor took her time and she and the nurse were very encouraging throughout the procedure. They understood what I was going through and were cognizant of that. Take deep breaths the entire way through. If you need a break, tell them to stop for a minute. I did that once or twice and it helped.
I warned my friend that was coming to pick me up that I would pretty bad, and I am glad I did! I really looked like Freddy Kreuger. They put this white lotion on you and that makes it look even worse. My eyes were very swollen. They gave me a prescription for an ointment to apply around my eyes. The doctor told me to sleep upright (I didn’t do that, I slept on my back). They wanted my friend to bring me back in the morning, because their concern was my eyes would be swollen shut and I wouldn’t be able to see. I didn’t do that either; I didn’t want to burden my friend and I really just wanted to go home.
(Note: I highly recommend you tell a friend or 2 you are having this done. You may need someone to run out and pick up something from the store for you and just have someone who knows what is going on. My friend is awesome and very supportive of my decision to have this done. One other person I told thought it was ridiculous, but no matter what she thinks, I know she'll help me out if needed.)
That night, I put more of the white creamy lotion they gave me all over my face again and applied the eye ointment and went to sleep.
The next morning, when I woke up, my hair was all gooey from where it got stuck on my face and I noticed it had also gotten on my pillow. I drove myself to her office (I wore a large brimmed hat to help hide my face!) for a check-up. Probably not the best idea since my eyes were still swollen, but not completely shut. I had not applied the Aquaphor yet, as I figured I would use up what they gave me. The doctor insisted that I not use that anymore and use the Aquaphor. She told me I was already drying out in some places and I shouldn’t be at this point. Basically, get the largest container of Aquaphor you can find (I used the generic, the real thing is very expensive) and goop it all over your face. Check it hourly – if any has soaked in – reapply! Keep your face wet. It will be EVERYWHERE – it is very greasy. It will get in your hair, on your hands, your face, neck. It will drip too, so wear old clothes and have clean towels readily available! I even put one on my pillow to help soak up any drippings. She also told me not to shower, so as not to get my face wet. You can bathe, just not shower. I am to see her again Monday morning.
Today is Saturday and the first day I showered (sounds gross, I know, but I was paranoid!) I kept the showerhead way down (I hate to bathe) and didn’t get it anywhere near my face. I washed my hair separately (I leaned under the faucet and shampooed) as best I could without coming close to my face.
Yhe doctor told me that I could LIGHTLTY use a soft tissue and go over my face today. It isn’t looking too bad (maybe I am just getting used to it!), but the swelling is going down slightly, some of the scabbing is coming off on its own, but I am super red. I gooped up my face again and will continue to keep it wet until she tells me otherwise. I’ll update you all on Monday after my appointment :)