Erbium Ablative Laser Review- London, UK

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I had erbium laser resurfacing on the 7th of July...

I had erbium laser resurfacing on the 7th of July 2014. I had a test area done first ( at the Doctors request) so the price includes that as well . I am 30 years old and have/had mild-moderate acne scars most of which are about 12 years old although I had a cystic acne flare up after my son was born ( August 2013) so had a few new scars as well. I had previously tried a total of 11 ( yes ELEVEN) fractional treatments. This gave me about a 10% improvement which wasn't really noticeable and I think this treatment made me more prone to cystic acne as prior to the treatments I was just getting normal spots .
Anyway back to this review....
I had numbing cream applied about an hour before the procedure and then local anaesthetic injections in the area that was going to be treated , the injections were very uncomfortable and painful . The doctor did three passes with the laser over the affected areas ( middle of both of my cheeks) and then a light pass on the surrounding areas to 'blend it in' . The first two passes were not painful at all but the third was slightly uncomfortable . A nurse applied some cream and a bandage and I went home. There was quite a bit of weeping and bleeding the first day . The second day my face was very swollen and my skin was still weeping but no longer bleeding . The swelling was gone after the first week but the weeping took nearly 10 days to stop . There was very little pain bar the first night but my skin did feel very itchy and irritated although some of this was the cream that had to applied several times a day until my skin healed. I had antibiotics to prevent an acne breakout ( I still have to take them for another week ) and anti virals to prevent cold sores . It is now day 14 and my left cheek has completely healed although my right cheek still has a small area that has not healed over . At the moment there does appear to be a reduction in my scars although this happened after a couple of my fractional treatments and my skin then went back to normal when it healed. I have included pictures from day 2, 5,7 and today . I will update this review a month and then three months after treatment as the Doctor did say it can take 3-6 to see the full results although I doubt there will be much improvement after three months .
If the look of my scars stay how they look today or improve then I would recommend the procedure but please keep in mine being housebound for over two weeks ( I still can't wear make up until my right cheek has fully healed) is very depressing especially in the summer! . This is a much bigger deal than you first think and keep in mind that most people can't cover the pinkness ( which can persist for months) until 2 weeks after the treatment . When I had the test area my skin did not return to a normal colour for about 2 months so that might be an issue for men . I normally wear make up every day so that is not a big deal to me but could be to some people.
Just to add, I personally do not have any before pictures as I never had pictures taken of me without make up and forgot to take some on the day but the Doctor did take some so if I can get hold of them I will post them when I update my progress :)

8 weeks from treatment

About 3-4 weeks after the treatment I was really happy with the results but now 8 weeks on my skin is pretty much back to how it looked pre treatment ... the left side especially . I'm really disappointed but apparently improvement can continue for up to six months . I will update again six months after treatment . I will also add to be aware of before and after photos showing dramatic improvement . My scars look a lot worse in certain lights and from certain angles . In good lighting and from a flattering angle they aren't that noticeable .

Slight improvement

Just to update I'm now 2 and a half months on from having the procedure . I have noticed a slight improvement between 6 weeks after treatment and this last week and have included 2 photos taken in the same lighting . I did find that the newer scars I had from a cystic breakout in September 2013 - March 2014 were pretty much all removed by the laser treatment ( there were 4/5 scars ) . They were all on my right cheek ....So I think laser treatment works better for newer scars . I will update again if I see anymore progress and if I see the Dr again I will ask for my before photos and post them as well .

Erbium laser resurfacing round 2

Today I had a second erbium laser resurfacing procedure . The treatment was very similar to the last one ( done by a different doctor ) but I had 2 passes instead of 3. It was less painful this time and my skin isn't as 'raw' but the doctor said this was because I'd had it done before . I estimate that the first treatment gave me a 30-40% improvement after about 6 months so I decided I'd have one more procedure before I accepted my skin as it is . Unfortunately I had no before pictures last time but have taken several this time from different angles . As you can see from the photos my scars look better / worse depending on the light and angle . I will update on day 7 and 14 with photos to show the healing process and then at 6 weeks to show ( hopefully ) the improvement !. You can't really judge improvement at all until the 6 week mark .

5 hours after treatment

It honestly looks worse than it feels !

Day 7 erbium round 2

This treatment was erbium fractional ablative not fully ablative so I've healed faster . Photos are to show the healing process . Improvement can't be judged until 6-8 weeks

Day 15

Now completely healed . Left cheek has a few red patches which I'm sure will fade . Skin does look better but going my previous experiences I'll wait until the 6-8 week mark before getting too excited . Will update then with more photos .

2 months on

It's now 2 months on from my 2nd erbium laser treatment. There has been an improvement, you can still clearly see my scars but they are now mild and on the right cheek do not bother me anymore . Improvement is meant to continue for 6 months so there may be further improvement. There is deeper scarring on my left cheek and if I had the money I would consider further treatment just on that side .
London Plastic Surgeon

Dr Barlow was very professional and told me to be realistic over the outcome of the procedure , he said I should get a 50-60% improvement but would never remove all my scars and that it isn't possible for any Doctor to that. I did have to pay for everything separately , 3 consultations, the test area and the actual treatment plus any additional follow up appointments which is a bit annoying as I would have preferred an inclusive price.

4 out of 5 stars Overall rating
4 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
4 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
2 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
4 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
4 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
2 out of 5 stars Payment process
3 out of 5 stars Wait times
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