Will Unavoidable Sunlight Exposure Ruin Laser Resurfacing Results?

After Fractionated CO2 laser resurfacing, I will be staying out of the sun as much as I can. I don't really "sunbathe" but I do like being outside with my daughter going to the park, beach etc. I will be wearing the appropriate hat, and using sunscreen, but I don't want to be a fanatic (some of the hats don't cover your face totally anyway). Also, my job requires me to take kids outside for brief intervals of time (i.e. to and from their classrooms) so I won't be wearing a hat then. Will the unavoidable exposure to sunlight ruin all the hard work that I've done after the laser treatment?

Doctor Answers 2

Yes, it might ruin the results, and make it worse than before

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For the first several weeks after the fractional CO2 laser treatment, your skin is extremely sensitive to the sun. So, yes, the sun exposure you are talking about might indeed be harmful, and lead to hyperpigmentation. If you are going through the expense and trouble of having this laser procedure, you have to be meticulous about post-procedural skin care, and avoiding sun exposure.

There is just no other way about it. You have to wear a hat, the one that covers your face, and avoid being outside, on the beach, etc., at least for the first 4 weeks. After that, you can get outside more freely, but you have to be diligent about sunscreen use.

Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon

Sunlight following fractional CO2 laser resurfacing

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I would really stress staying out of the sun right after the procedure until the redness has faded to a very light pink color.  After that - well your skin will be back to its normal state but remember the radiation effects of sunlight are cumulative.  So, while sunlight won't "ruin" your result, sunlight is one of the major aging factors to the skin. 

I live in Florida and there is now way to avoid the sun all the time.  One must live a happy and full life.  Just do the best you can - sunscreen every morning (just put it next to your toothbrush) and reapply during the day if you are going to be outside.  Avoid the most potent sunlight (in the afternoon).  Be in the shade when possible and wear a hat when not under cover. 

Douglas M. Stevens, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon

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.