Skin Care After Laser Resurfacing?

seems like the laser resurfacing will be tough on my skin. what should I do?

Doctor Answers 26

Important Skin Care Before & After Laser Resurfacing

It is not only important to be concerned about post-op skin care, but also to pay attention to pre-treatment skin preparation prior to laser skin resurfacing. First, the skin must not be tanned. I recommend patient to apply sunblock of SPF 50 and to avoid sun exposure for 1 month prior to treatment. For patients with darker skin, I recommend the use of Retin A and Hydroquinone for 2 weeks before the skin is lasered.

After laser resurfacing, the skin needs to be kept very moist. I like Aquaphor to be applied for about 4-5 days followed by a good moisturizer. 2 weeks post-laser, I recommend using sunblock, Hydroquinone and Retin A for 3 months. This allows the skin to continue to improve and decreases the risk of pigmentary issues. I hope you find this helpful. Good luck!

New York Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 134 reviews

Best skin care after laser resurfacing is cleansing and moisturization

Good skin care after laser resurfacing is essentail to ensure a good result and avoid complications.

Most complications following laser resurfacing are caused by failure to properly take care of the skin after laser resurfacing.

There are three essential components of post laser resurfacing skin care:

  • The skin must be kept moist with topical cream or ointment
  • The skin must be kept clean, all secretions and skin debris removed
  • Sun block and prevention is essential for the new skin


Initially after laser resurfacing I apply Aquaphor, a gentle safe ointment which prevents the newly resurfaced skin from drying out. I also have patients apply Saline soaked gauze pads to the face and change them every few hours. The Saline soaked gauze pads not only keep the skin moist but also loosen and remove dead skin cells and skin debris to keep the surface of the skin clean

Cleaning the resurfaced skin

Dead skin cells and secretions, if they are not removed, can lead to skin infection and subsequent complications such as scarring.

Keeping the skin clean and free of secretions is very important especially during the first few days after laser resurfacing.

Cleansing must be gentle, as you do not want to remove new skin celles that are forming after the laser resurfacing.

The best, most efective and comforting method is to apply saline soaked gauze sponges to the face. Every 3-4 hours the sponges are changed with a gentle wiping to remove accumulated debris

Newer fractional ablative laser resurfacing results in quicker healing, shorter skin care

Newer fractional laser resurfacing leaves many skin cells intact and results in quicker healing. Especially the Erbium 2940 fractional ablative laser resurfacing produces fewer secretions and less skin debris after laser resurfacing.

Older CO2 laser resurfacing can require 2-3 weeks of skin care.

Newer fractional 2940 Erbium laser resurfacing can result in healing in the first few days. Saline soaks are often necessary for only 24 hours and the skin is often fully healed in 5-7 days.

Skin Care After Laser Resurfacing


The skin care for laser resurfacing begins even before the procedure is performed. This consists of sun avoidance 3-4 weeks before and some pre conditioning with Retin A and Hydroquinone creams. These creams are then stopped 5 days prior to the procedure.

Immediately after the procedure, a thin layer of petroleum ointment such as Aquaphor should be applied for approximately 5-7 days. Also during this period, it helps to keep the skin wet with frequent showers and soaking with wet gauze to help gently remove some of the sloughing skin.

After 7 days most patients can begin to wear make-up and just use a gentle facial moisturizer. Sun avoidance continues for 4-6 months with hats and sun blocks to maintain the healthy delicate skin you worked so hard to get. Laser resurfacing patients are some of the happiest out there once they have healed.

Sincerely Dr. D.

Louis M. DeJoseph, MD
Atlanta Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Sun protection and lubrication are esssential

The two most important precautions after CO2 laser resurfacing are sun protection and lubrication. In terms of sun protection, you should treat your skin as if it were a baby's skin: no sun exposure for the first 6 months and always wear a hat,sunglasses, and sun block every day.

Regarding lubrication, the skin should be kept moist until after the old skin sheds and the new skin grows in. I recommend a thin coat of simple petroleum jelly like Vasline.

Jonathan Hoenig, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Post-procedure skin care depends on type of laser

Laser resurfacing is broadly categorized into “ablative” and “non-ablative” procedures. The amount of damage and aftercare required after each is quite different. For the ablative procedures, a careful regimen of healing ointments and cleansing protocols must be followed with regular and frequent follow up appointments with your laser surgeon to make sure everything is on track. These aftercare regimens vary from clinic to clinic and so it’s important to find one with certified operating facilities, experienced nurses, and specialty trained laser surgeons who will walk you through every step of the way. The non-ablative laser resurfacing procedures typically require less aftercare with a thin ointment or cream sometimes all that is required for a few days to a week. Hope that helps!

Douglas Wu, MD
San Diego Dermatologist
4.9 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Skin care after resurfacing

   Immediately after resurfacing, I use Vaseline or Aquaphor to keep the skin moist.  After 2 days, I will ususally switch to a light 1% hydrocortisone lotion to help decrease redness, and have the patient use for the next 5 days until skin has re-epithelialized. It is also very important to use a product with a sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater to avoid hyperpigmentation.  I also place all patients on an oral antibiotic and antiviral agent immediately post procedure to prevent infection. 

   I will usually start the patient on on retinoid at the one month follow up and stress continued sun protection.


Lana Long, MD
Cincinnati Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Skin care after laser

There are 2 answers to this question. In the immediate post operative period, Most physicians have a regimen involving hydration of the skin by frequently splashing with water and a laser ointment to keep the skin hydrated and soft, A SPF 60 or higher sunscreen is essential to "protect your investment" and insure long term results. We use antioxidant with vitamin C and Green Tea to repair sun damaged DNA and an exfoliant such as Glycolic acid or a Retinoid to maintain smoothness and stimulate new collagen production.

Michael Tomcik, MD
San Ramon Dermatologist
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Skin care after laser resurfacing extremely important

While there are different types of laser resurfacing, some more aggressive than others, they all require good skin care following the treatments to avoid complications and ensure optimal results.

The two most important parts of good skin care following laser resurfacing are emolliation and sun avoidance/sun protection. We recommend intense emolliation to the treated areas for the first week after the treatment with either aquaphor or vaseline ointment several times a day. We also prefer in that same time period that our patients avoid using any other prescription or over-the-counter products and that they gently cleanse with plain soap and water. Once the skin peels (sheds) and new skin begins to come in, which usually starts at the end of that first week, one can slowly start to resume their prior skin care regimen.

Regarding the sun, absolute sun avoidance (strict sun protection) is essential for at least several months after the procedure. That includes avoiding the sun as much as possible and using sunscreens, wide hats, sunglasses and so forth when having to be in the sun. After a few weeks, in certain patients, we will add back in a topical RetinA cream and/or a topical bleaching cream (ie. hydroquinone 4% cream).

The lasers are excellent for many different types of skin resurfacing, but if you dont do your part and take care of your skin after the treatments, a lot of the benefit is lost and you take the risk of doing some damage.

Hope this helps.

Channing R. Barnett, MD
New York Dermatologist
4.1 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Skin care after laser resurfacing

After laser resurfacing, you should follow the immediate post- procedure protocol as recommended by your physician which typically consists of products the hydrate, soothe, and protect the skin while it is healing. Skin care beyond the immediate post- op period should focus on sun protection and products that promote collagen production like topical vitamin c and topical products that contain growth factors.

Elizabeth F. Rostan, MD
Charlotte Dermatologist
4.4 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Skin care after laser resurfacing

It is more important that ever after laser resurfacing to protect your skin from sun exposure daily, all year round.

Immediately after your treatment I place you on a regimen to gently cleanse your skin, keep your skin hydrated and UV protected. After about a week or two, I adjust your skin care for your skin's need to include an appropriate cleanser, a targeted treatment serum or cream, moisturizer for daytime and evening, as well as a sunscreen.

After your treatment it is prudent to have your provider check your skin at intervals for up to 3 months to see how well you have responded to treatment. We have our patients come in for a skin check and skin care adjustment at intervals, up to 6 months after their fractional resurfacing treatment.

Anifat Balogun, MD
Seattle Otolaryngologist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.