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 32

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. 

New York Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 132 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
4.0 out of 5 stars 2 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
4.8 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

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.

David Goldberg, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
3.3 out of 5 stars 4 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 Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

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. 

Dr. Karamanoukian 
Los Angeles

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Post Laser Skin Care

Correctly caring for your skin after a laser resurfacing treatment is important in order to promote healing and prevent complications. I have my patients clean their skin twice daily with a gentle cleanser like Cetaphil and apply Aquaphor several time a day to keep the skin moist. Usually after three days they switch from Aquaphor to Cetaphil lotion. After 5-7 days, patients can put on makeup and should be diligent about using sunscreen and avoiding sun exposure.

Steven M. Daines, MD
Newport Beach Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

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
4.9 out of 5 stars 84 reviews

Avoid the sun

The most important thing to do after a laser treatment is to avoid the sun.  Darker skin types can hyperpigment after almost any laser treatment if they don't stay out or the sun and use sunscreen.  Topical bleaching agents can help too.  Others thing to do are to take good care of your skin with gentle cleansers and moisturizers.  Also prior to treatment, tretinoin and bleaching cream can also improve the effectiveness of almost any facial laser.  

William Kwan, MD, FAAD
San Francisco Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Post-Laser Skincare

After laser skin treatment, it is important to allow your skin to fully heal. We typically use a skin solution cleanser by Elta MD or use diluted vinegar soaks 3-4 times a day to help remove any peel skin. This will keep it clean, allow you to remove peeling skin, and also decrease risk of infection. During this period- you must use a thick ointment to minimize scabbing or crusting. We usually apply Elta MD laser balm which is a thick emollient; other options include Aquaphor ointment or Epionce medical barrier cream. After 7-10 days or once you are fully peeled, we have patients start using a Laser Enzyme gel which is has a cooling effect and helps to relieve itching or discomfort. We also have subjects start using a gentle cleanser ie. Cetaphil or Epionce Gentle foaming cleanser and top it off with Cetaphil lotion, Elta MD moisturizer, or another gentle non irritating facial moisturizer. This is all topped off with an SPF. It is crucial to allow things to heal to minimize any scarring/ infection. Once patients are 1-2 months out, we often have them resume some form of Retin A +/- hydroquinone ointment; sometimes we also add on a topical corticosteroid to help minimize any ongoing erythema/ reddness. I think that the most important thing post-operatively is to minimize any sun exposure and wear SPF regularly- this will prevent ongoing sun damage and get you the best bang for your buck!

Sapna A. Patel, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 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.