Let's Talk about Laser Resurfacing: Breezing Through The Recovery Stage

Dr Justin Boey

"Doctor with interest in Aesthetics and Lasers"

Laser resurfacing has been a popular and effective scar removal method for some time now. Many people opt for this treatment due to consistent and positive results that have been produced so far. However, there are a few things that patients need to know about managing the skin's condition after this procedure.

Dr Justin Boey is passionate about facial aesthetics and hair loss. He shared some insight with DoctorxDentist readers on how to better manage the recovery process after laser resurfacing. Here are several key takeaways.

What is laser resurfacing?


Laser resurfacing is a treatment to treat minor facial flaws or to improve the skin’s appearance. You can seek laser surfacing treatment on other parts (hands, neck, chest) of your skin too.

Some common facial flaws that have been treated using laser resurfacing includes wrinkles, fine or deep lines, facial blemishes, scars caused by acne, warts, ageing skin[1] [2] [3]

There are 2 types of lasers for this treatment

  • Ablative (wounding laser) where layers of skin are removed, 
  • Non-ablative (non-wounding laser) where the collagen growth is stimulated and tightens underlying skin. 

However, regardless of whether it is an ablative or non-ablative procedure the effects for deep wrinkles, or sagging or excessive skin are not permanent as these are part of the natural ageing process.

Repeated treatments may be necessary[1] [2]

Skin is extra sensitive after laser resurfacing

Women holding cream together

You may feel that your skin has increased sensitivity post-laser and you are not wrong. Generally, redness, swelling, itching, scabbing/crusting, sensitivity to sunlight are common post-laser side effects. In fact, your skin may feel “raw” and/or red until it heals on its own. The skin is sensitive during this recovery phase as top layers of your skin may have been removed. [1] [4]

Sun protection is crucial

Sun basket, hat, and glasses on the beach

New growing skin can be sensitive to visible light and thus sun protection is crucial at this stage of recovery. Regular application of sunblock throughout the day (eg. reapplied every 3-4 hours) and avoiding the sun during the peak hours can prevent treated skin to become more damaged than it was before. [4]

Request an antibiotic cream from your doctor

Flowers on cream

After the treatment, the affected area may be covered with a dressing for healing. It is advised that the dressing is replaced daily. Your doctor should prescribe an antibiotic or anti-inflammatory cream (like Fobancort) until your skin has fully recovered. I have provided a similar answer here.

Try these additional measures for better results

Woman rubbing cream on her face

Following the tips above - sun protection and identifying the cause for discolouration - you may now have more success with finding an effective skin brightening cream which can be used to slow down the production of spots. You can look for skin brightening creams that contain

  • 2% hydroquinone
  • Azelaic acid
  • Glycolic acid
  • Kojic acid
  • Vitamin C

You should always be careful when purchasing your skin-whitening product as some may contain ingredients that are harmful to your skin (eg. steroids) which can cause thinning or permanent damage to your skin. [5] 

Can laser treatment cause more pigmentation?

Woman looking at mirror

It is possible that you get pigmentation after your laser resurfacing treatment. I have answered the question here. There is a small risk of getting post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) which typically fades away after 4-6weeks. This is due to irritation or damage to the skin. [6]

Sunlight can cause also cause PIH to darken thus you should apply sunblock of SPF50+ broad-spectrum (which covers UVA and UVB) or/and wear sun-protective clothing to protect your skin. [5]

There are treatments to help manage pigmentation

Oranges and medicine bottle

There are creams (eg. vitamin C creams) that are available to lighten the pigmentation on the skin. [7] But an effective long term way to treat PIH would be to find out the underlying skin problems causing this discolouration. [8] You should schedule an appointment with your doctor to start early treatments.

Laser resurfacing is a great way to help manage skin issues such as scars and other inconsistencies. However, it's best that you prepare yourself for skin management after the procedure. Consult your doctor for any other concerns you may have. 

Dr Justin Boey is a medical doctor with Sozo Aesthetic Clinic. Dr Boey has a special interest in Facial Aesthetics relating to pigmentation, acne scars, and facelift, as well as Hair Loss.

Read more from Dr Justin Boey in his Q&A here. 

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1. Laser Resurfacing. Asds.net. Published 2019. Accessed July 25, 2019.

2. Non-ablative Laser Rejuvenation. Asds.net. Published 2019. Accessed July 26, 2019. 

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