If anyone has specific questions for me, I'd be happy to answer.
My doctor and his staff are just simply the best. I did research for about one year before choosing this doctor - he's one of the most highly respected professionals in this industry. Laser manufacturers approach him specifically to give feedback on new equipment. He fixes laser mistakes made by other doctors - this was huge for me.
The type of laser you get is not as important as the person wielding it. My doctor is a true artist and I trust him 100%. He understands the complexity of laser treatments and customized the plan for my skin.
Yes, he's more expensive than the others. When it comes to laser surgery, though, why would you settle for less than the best?
April 15th, 2010: day of surgery (day 1):
They took several photos, did a Visia skin analysis, rubbed several layers of the numbing cream in for 90 minutes total (this doctor insists on 90 minutes of numbing so he can go as deep as necessary with the laser). Then I had a treatment with the LED GentleWaves machine, which promotes healing. Then a toredal (ibuprofen) shot in the buttocks.
The doctor and his assistant made written notes directly on one of my photos, to plan for the depth, shape and spacing of the laser "dots". During the procedure, the doctor spoke to me often, letting me know which area they were working on next, and he and the assistant discussed the numbers they had written earlier. This felt very customized to me. If anyone reading this has a doctor that wants to use a DOT laser on just one setting, all over the face, RUN AWAY. That means they simply don't know how to use it. What you really want is an artist, someone who uses different depths, shapes and spacing to achieve different results for different types of scars, and for different types of skin all over the face.
The procedure DID hurt - I won't lie. But it wasn't a screaming pain or anything....just felt like small rubber bands snapping over and over. Whenever one section of my face was complete, they placed a cool compress over it. As the surgery went on, the "fire" feeling built up and felt pretty bad. I don't want to lie -if you are going to do DOT therapy and do it right (have the doctor go deep), then you have to be committed to the discomfort, too. My face looks amazing and I would do it all over in a second.
I did smell burning (hair singe) throughout the treatment. Afterwards they compressed me for about an hour and then I left.
I went home and followed their instructions for compressing, vaseline and hydrocortizone. It hurt, and felt like my face was on fire that first day and evening, but the heat was in the background and I was able to get some laundry and meals prepared, etc....the pain wasn't debilitating.
Day 2, 9:00 am:
I elevated the head of the bed to help with swelling, and slept pretty well.
My face is now red, rough and looks "bronzed". It doesn't hurt as much as yesterday though. I keep compressing as much as possible to help the healing. It feels pretty tight. On Day 1 the vaseline stung a little bit, today it doesn't.
Day 2, 5:00 pm:
OK, wow.....after 8 more hours, my face doesn't feel as tight, the swelling has gone down, the redness has subsided a bit - I feel great. I wouldn't even know anything had happened if I didn't look in the mirror.
All day today and yesterday I have been doing a 15-minute cold compress about every 90 minutes. Yes, it's a pain but the more moisture on the skin, the faster the healing. I also drank about 12 glasses of water yesterday and trying to do the same today.
For the compresses, I use two washrags dipped in ice water, wring them out lightly so they are still pretty wet, and lay them over my face (folded) with my nostrils poking out in between them. Then I press my hands all over my face to really get that moisture in there. Then remove when the timer goes off 15 minutes later.
Day 3, 10:00 am:
The swelling is gone so I'm going to stop taking ibuprofen. I elevated the head of the bed last night, but I'll return it to normal tonight. Sleeping has been the hardest part, trying to stay on my back so I don't roll over and leave all my Vaseline on the pillow.
I can't tell if the redness has subsided in the last 24 hours, but I'll take pictures anyway.
Day 3, 4:00 pm:
Redness is faded on part of the face - now it's started to itch and tickle and peel a little bit. Still feels tight. I washed carefully with Cetaphil, and some skin did roll off when I dried my face. I'm happy - I think my healing is going really fast compared to others. I think it's because I ate well for a couple of weeks beforehand and drank tons of water, slept well and exercised, and just made sure my immune system was as tuned up as it could be for the recovery period.
Day 4, 10:00 am:
I woke up with all the vaseline off of my face (and on to the pillows). I'm glad I have lots of pillowcases so I can change them out every day. My face was also peeling quite a bit. Not sure if you can see this in the day 4 photos. Right now it's itchy, it tickles, and it's peeling. The redness has faded. I'm going to try not to "help" it peel, as my doctor said not to do that....to just let my face peel at it's own pace. It feels a bit tight.
Day 4, 6:00 pm:
Redness fading to pink. The dead skin is just rolling off my face now, and my face is itchy. Every time I reach up to scratch, some skin falls off. There is no pain or discomfort, though.
Day 5, 9:00 am:
I woke up with some sort of lesion on one of my eyelids. It's right in the crease, and looks similar to when you get cracking in between the toes for athlete's foot. It's not bleeding very much, but the skin is just not acting like the skin on the other eyelid, which is normal. My face looks light pink.
Day 6, 10:00 am
I went in for my check-up and the doctor said I was way ahead of schedule in terms of healing. I was happy to hear that. So all that work (compressing, drinking water, etc....) paid off. I had a Gentle Waves LED treatment today to speed healing, and I'll have another one of those on Friday.
My face is still a little red but I can start wearing mineral-based makeup tomorrow.
Since the swelling is down, I can see that the appearance of my scars has been reduced about 50% with this procedure, and the full effect will be known at the 6-9 month mark, when collagen repair should be complete.
The next time I update will be at the 9-month mark. If I forget to update with photos at that time, would someone please e-mail and remind me?