Best Skin Aftercare Following Laser Resurfacing?

Is there anything special that should be done to recover after a laser skin treatment or increase the effectiveness of the laser treatment?
 

Doctor Answers 26

Best care after laser treatments

Generally, after laser treatments, the most important thing you can do for about a week is to make sure the skin stays moist. There are a whole variety of things to do that from Vaseline to more complicated creams. About a week after treatment it’s important to start up with topical agents that maintain and further improve the results from the laser treatment. At the top of the list are products that contain glycolic acid and growth factors.


New York Dermatologic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Recommended Aftercare following Laser Resurfacing

There are many ointments and creams available to use post-laser, with the primary goal to keep the skin moist and clean. For my patients, I recommend Aquaphor after a deep laser resurfacing procedure. Usually it is used until the the skin no longer appears raw (about 5 days). This is followed by a light moisturizer (both creams and lotions are fine). After 2 weeks, I would suggest the use of a moisturizer with sunblock (of SPF 30 or above) for 3 months. Please note that the face should not be washed until 2-3 days after the procedure and only a mild, non-drying soap should be used at that time. You can then dry your skin with gentle patting (not rubbing). I hope you find this helpful. Good luck. 

After Laser Care

My routine after a deep laser is:

  • Elta cream (a Vaseline type ointment) applied immediately after the procedure, keep reapplying as it dries out until you first get in the shower
  • Starting on day 2, the patient gets in the shower and gently washes the face (no soap) 4-6 times a day
  • Reapply the Elta cream after each shower
  • Keep this up until all the crusting, flaking and peeling is gone.  This usually takes 7-10 days following a deep Erbium treatment
  • Once the skin is not peeling anymore, you an apply a coverup makeup to hide some of the reddness
  • Moisturize with a very hypoallergenic lotion like Cetaphil
  • Keep using very mild moisturizers until the pinkness and reddness has faded (be patient as this can take weeks or even months)

John Bitner, MD
Salt Lake City Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Post Laser Skin Resurfacing

It is very important to follow the aftercare protocols from your provider after laser skin resurfacing. I recommend Aquaphor to my patients because it has great healing properties for post-procedure skin. The ointment keeps the skin moist when reapplied often. After the epidermis has healed, the Aquaphor is substituted with less emollient agents. You should avoid the sun for one month.


David J. Sire, MD
Fullerton Dermatologic Surgeon
3.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Elevase Moisture Booster

Our moisturizer of choice after laser resurfacing is the Elevase Moisture Booster that contains opti-ceramides. Ceramides can strengthen your skin's natural moisture barrier and are thus great for the skin after resurfacing laser. 

Best, 
Dr. Karamanoukian 
Los Angeles

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 83 reviews

Skin Care After Laser Resurfacing

As a general rule, after laser resurfacing the skin should be kept moist until healed. We use a special type of bandage for the first 24 hours called Vigilon and then after that an ointment called Aquaphor. But each doctor probably has a particular product or regimen that they prefer. By keeping the skin moist it heals twice as quickly as letting it dry out. Its an old wives' tale that you let the air get to a wound to speed healing; its just the opposite. After the skin is healed following laser resurfacing a continuing regimen utilizing a retinoid will help stimulate further collagen deposition and improve and maintain the result.

Andrew Kaufman, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Skin care after laser resurfacing

Skin heals best when it is kept moist.  The best way to accomplish that is to apply an ointment with no irritants in it, such as petroleum jelly (Vaseline) every two-three hours for three days after the procedure.

It is also extremely important to stay out of the sun while the skin is healing.  The skin has very little protection after a resurfacing procedure and may be damaged more easily by ultraviolet light.  In addition, exposure to the sun may lead to complications, such as hyperpigmentation.

After the skin is healed and all the scabs/crusts are gone, a good skin care regimen with a mild cleanser, a moisturizer and a retinoid cream will help maintain and improve the results of the procedure.

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Aftercare depends on the type of laser treatment performed

The aftercare regimen following a laser procedure is dependent on the type of laser procedure performed. For example, after a simple procedure such as IPL, minimal to no specific aftercare is required. After a non-ablative fractionated resurfacing procedure such as Fraxel Restore or Dual, a bland ointment such as Aquaphor or Vaniply are sufficient and usually only need to be applied for several days to a week. After a non-fractionated fully ablative resurfacing procedure, a more complicated regimen consisting of ointment, vinegar soaks, prophylactic antibiotics and antivirals may be indicated.

There are two major things that need to be avoided during the post-operative period. Firstly, it is very important to refrain from picking at your skin. Secondly, excessive sun exposure during this time can result in unsightly hyperpigmentation that may take a while to fade.

The above are general guidelines. Any laser specialist at a reputable and professional establishment will give you a thorough pre-operative assessment and will then follow up with you very regularly during the immediate post-op period in order to ensure that your healing is on track and to implement any changes to the standard care routine that may be necessary based on your own individual and unique healing patterns. Hope that helps!

Douglas Wu, MD
San Diego Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Skin care after laser resurfacing

Laser resurfacing can be done to different depths of penetration. Because of the different depth, different skin care protocols are necessary. The main goals of the skin care is to keep the skin moist and clean to help it grow healthy.

For microlaser peels, minimal post laser skin care is necessary. Usually Aquaphor or Vaseline for a few days followed by moisturizers and sunblock.

For deeper peels, the skin care changes over time.
Initially, you use Aquaphor or Vaseline only for 3 to 5 days. Vinegar and water are used to gently wash the skin.  Afterwards, we start adding moisturizers and growth factors. A gentle soap is recommended for cleaning. You want  to use sunblock as soon as possible (usually between 1 to 2 weeks after the laser).


Your doctor will explain to you the expected recovery and steps for skin care. In our office, we have a variety of skin care product we recommend for laser recovery.  We individualize the skin care for each patient's skin. We also have a medical aesthetician who is helps the patients through the recovery process.
We will also recommend specific pre-laser skin care for you.

Hope this helps
Good luck!


Myriam Loyo, MD
Portland Otolaryngologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Aftercare following Laser Skin Resurfacing

This answer to this question depends on the type of laser used. If its a superficial laser, less aggressive care is required. If its a deeper laser like Dual Pulsed Erbium or CO2 Full Face Ablative Resurfacing, then more aggressive care is required.

Because the Herpes virus can come out and infect the skin are laser treatments, I suggest using an Anti-Viral like Valtrex during the healing process.

I also like having my patients use a protocol of dilute Acetic Acid washes to clean the skin and fight infection followed by moisture trapping ointments like Aquaphor, Vaseline, or even Crisco.

After the skin is re-epithelialized, (i.e. no longer raw or weeping and instead pink and smooth) the sunblock and makeup can be used. For those at risk for hyperpigmentation, we will often have then on hydroquinones for a few months after the procedure.

I hope this was helpful.

Adam Scheiner, MD
Tampa Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

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.