I had my procedure done at Kalos Facial Plastic Surgery in Atlanta, by Dr. Benjamin Stong. The staff was absolutely wonderful; very friendly and anticipated my questions. I followed the post-procedure directions as advised, and have to say the whole process was fairly easy. The downside is that you need to hibernate for a few days. I had it done on a Wednesday evening and tele-worked Thursday and Friday because while it was not painful, I looked startling. I went out Saturday with my face lathered in Aquaphor, but it would have been ok to stay home Saturday and Sunday, too.
I had started Tretinoin (Retin-A) several weeks before the procedure, but Dr. Stong told me this would only improve my results. My main concern was the hyperpigmentation and fine lines. I don’t think the average person would say I needed this done, but I view it as a prophylaxis. One or two Pearl Laser treatments now, and hopefully I’ll look better two years from now.
I left work early Wednesday and the staff at Kalos was ready for me. I was put in a private room and the esthetician slathered my face with a numbing cream. Then I read magazines and relaxed for an hour while it took effect. The staff was wonderful, very warm and checked on me regularly. When it was time Dr. Stong brought me to another room where the laser was done. He explained he was going to wipe the cream off my face in sections so the numbing cream could continue to work; I was just to lie there with the protective goggles over my eyes.
I expected the treatment to be painful (I like to prepare for the worst), but it honestly wasn’t bad! If you’ve had laser hair removal, I would say it’s comparable to that. The area around my lips were the most sensitive, but Dr. Stong told me he wanted to go over that area several times because there was more hyperpigmentation there (I knew what he was talking about – those dark spots that make you worry you’re getting a moustache – I wanted it lightened up!).
Dr. Stong did two to three passes over my face and afterwards slathered my face with a protective coat of Aquaphor. Afterwards my face was burning like really bad sunburn, but the Aquaphor helped and I was fine driving myself home (note, I didn’t have my eyelids done. If you have your eyelids done someone needs to drive you). When I got home I took the prescribed pain med, and it was ok. That night, and for the next three nights, I slept with a u-shaped travel pillow wedged under my neck. This is among my best tips – the travel pillow kept me immobile enough that I didn’t roll over.
The after-care required a protective coating of Aquaphor at all times and regular vinegar soaks. The staff told me I could not do the vinegar soaks enough. I started the next day and my advice is to use heavy paper towels for the first three days – while there isn’t pain when your face is coated with Aquaphor, it is still quite raw and you are taking off dead skin. The regular washcloths felt too rough. A Viva paper town really did the trick. I didn’t enjoy the vinegar soaks until I realized this, and while they are tedious, they started to feel wonderful after the initial sting.
Day 1 (day after): Face was extremely tight and swollen with raw skin. Kept it coated in Aquaphor, definitely didn’t see anyone except my boyfriend. The vinegar soaks stung slightly, but started to feel better once I used paper towels and started to really let the vinegar water soak in.
Day 2: Still raw, with a lot of dead skin coming off every time I did the vinegar soaks. Then when I liberally reapplied the Aquaphor it was clumping a lot on my face, which I didn’t worry about. It was working!
Day 3: Looked a LOT better – in the territory of someone who was recovering from a bad sunburn. Still peeling during vinegar soaks, but followed advise and didn’t hurry up the peeling. Dr. Stong told me to still use the Aquaphor at this phase. So when I ventured out I had a shiny coating over my face which looked strange.
Day 4: My skin looks amazing!!! I’m starting to feel normal but the peeling hasn’t completely finished so I’m sticking with the Aquaphor, which is not annoying rather than soothing. Also Aquaphor has caused a few pustules, so the teenage acne isn’t that great, but it’s totally worth it. This is the annoying day of recovery, but since I can see my results I don’t mind.
Day 5: It’s Monday and I am back at work. My face looks slightly red, as if I got some sun over the weekend. I could wear makeup, but don’t see that it’s necessary. I’m also liberally applying Cetaphil Moisture Cream today, so don’t want an additional layer on my face.
Day 6 –14: Redness continued to decrease and I absolutely love the fresh, new skin on my face. I’m being very careful about sun exposure. I resumed the Retin-A a few days ago when Dr. Stong said it was ok.
Tips before procedure:
Fill pain script
Buy more Aquaphor than you think you will need
Buy Viva paper towels for first few days of vinegar soaks
Have travel pillow ready for sleeping