My Experience With Laser Skin Rejuvenation (With Tips On What To Expect Before, During and After Treatment)

I have mentioned in the past that I am going to share some aesthetic procedures I have done myself (check out my botox). In case you don’t know, I work as Aesthetic Registered Nurse so aside from performing laser procedures, it goes without saying that I am also the “face” behind; hence, I voluntarily subject myself to various aesthetic procedures so I can truly relate to our patients, answer their concerns and most importantly, explain and level their expectations from a patient’s standpoint. For today’s post, I am sharing my Laser Skin Rejuvenation experience which is composed of non-ablative laser (indicated for textural issues such as wrinkles, scars, stretch marks, melasma) and intense pulse light therapy (indicated for vascular lesions/pigments, sun or age spots, unwanted hair, etc). In my case, I was particularly concerned with aging skin, minor acne scars, big pores and fine spider veins around my nose and left jawline. While skincare products and lifestyle choices can help prevent certain skin issues, laser technology is the answer if you want total skin rejuvenation or resurfacing. Laser works by targeting and repairing your skin below the surface. It stimulates collagen and elastin production and overtime, this process tightens the skin and fill in the wrinkles. Laser is a costly procedure depending on who does it and where it is done. A machine being used by a doctor in the suburb can cost three or four times more if you move it to Beverly Hills under the hands of a celebrity doctor. There are also two types of laser: ablative (less treatment required but significant social downtime involved, 7-10 days at the most) and non-ablative (more treatments required but less social downtime, few hours to to 2 days on average). I had a non-ablative treatment using Cynosure Icon, here’s a video if you are interested to see how it’s done in a clinic setting:

Before The Treatment:

  • No excessive sun exposure at least four weeks prior to your first session or during the entire course of treatment
  • Use sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and reapply every few hours if you will be out in the sun longer
  • Do not use retinol, salicylic or glycolic acid at least two weeks prior or preferably, during the entire course of treatment
  • Medical history is taken into consideration. Tell your doctor if you have had cold sores or fever blisters as laser can trigger a breakout. If so, you may be pre-medicated with anti-viral (I don’t have personal history). 
  • You should not have laser procedure if you have active acne. You maybe prescribed with short-course antibiotics post-treatment if you are acne-prone
  • If you have hairs in the area to be treated, shave the night or few hours before your procedure. 
  • You can also double up on your multivitamins to help speed up your skin’s recovery
  • Come to your appointment makeup-free, skip moisturizers or cream as well. You may opt to be pre-treated with a numbing cream; if that’s the case, arrive at least 30 minutes before the procedure.


During The Treatment:

  • Wear protective glasses during the entire procedure
  • For IPL, your melanin index will be taken via a gadget called Skintel so the right setting can be programmed
  • The laser operator will do a test spot and observe for any skin reaction. If everything looks right, the procedure will commence
  • The sensation is similar to “rubber band flicks or tiny zaps”
  • People react to situations differently, but in general, it is a well-tolerated procedure. Depending on the practice, a cool roller or cool blower maybe used to ease the discomfort (you can see from the video that I was using cool roller)


After The Treatment:

  • Sun avoidance is of utmost importance to prevent the risk of hyper pigmentation
  • Use sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and reapply every few hours. If you have Skin Type IV like me (moderate brown or olive skin, burns minimally and tans easily; mostly Hispanics, Asians and Mid-Easterns), you maybe prescribed with hydroquinone to prevent hyper pigmentation
  • A non-ablative fractional laser means less aggressive procedure, hence there is less social downtime (few hours to few days) but it may require two or more treatments depending on the problem area to see desired results
  • Post-treatment care varies from practice to practice, some doctors recommend applying a non-irritant moisturizer to keep the skin moist to facilitate quicker healing
  • Some may develop pustules (small blister or pimple with pus), which is a typical reaction if you are acne-prone, I experienced this for 3 days; if that’s the case, your doctor may recommend applying over-the-counter salicylic acid only on the affected area
  • In the event of cystic acne breakouts, your doctor may prescribe you with short-course antibiotics. These will generally resolve in a week or two so unless there is a serious medical concern, there is no need to panic
  • Follow up sessions are usually 4-6 weeks but you maybe asked to come back after two weeks for a quick skin reassessment. Again, each practice has its own protocol

Personally, I recommend to simplify your skincare or makeup routine for about a week after your session to allow your skin to recover, heal and rejuvenate. Use non-comedogenic products and moisturize (but don’t over-saturate). My skin felt rough for a week, had pustules on my chin for three days, and my face was red for two days. It’s the storm before the calm. This is the second time I’ve done this procedure and with complete honesty, I love my skin now, it actually looks way better than in my 20s, even 30s! On a side note, here are the products I used post-treatment (I did not wear makeup the following day. I resumed on the second day to cover up my redness). I was also using hydroquinone 4% for three weeks and religiously applying sunscreen (which I do everyday anyways) to prevent hyper pigmentation as I have Skin Type IV.

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  • Oxygenetix Oxygenating Foundation ($66, 0.5 oz/15ml) is specifically marketed to patients who have had laser treatments, IPLS, chemical peels, microneedling, etc to help camouflage damaged skin (such as redness or dryness). It claims to be “breathable”, protects against UVA and UVB (spf 25), water and transfer resistant, non-irritating and non-comedogenic. It feels light on the face with medium to full coverage. This brand is mostly sold in clinics and select online shops. 
  • Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($14.49, 16 fl oz/473 ml) is still one of the gentlest facial cleanser in the market (indicated for all skin types). I use this daily.
  • Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum ($84, 2.02 fl oz/ 60 ml) is another gentle skincare product that I have enjoyed using the past months. It’s a serum that provides adequate hydration while my skin was healing. I chose not to apply additional moisturizer during the first week to help me monitor any skin changes or reactions to laser treatment.

One month after. Except for moisturizer, lipstick and groomed brows, I wasn’t wearing makeup/foundation in this photo. My skin isn’t perfect and you can still see some pores but overall, my skin has improved so much better (I mean at 42!).


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24 Comments

  1. November 10, 2016 / 5:32 pm

    WOW, this is so informative! Your skin looks absolutely gorgeous, and it is really fantastic that you do the treatments so that you can really offer your patients a realistic view of what to expect!

    • November 10, 2016 / 8:16 pm

      Thanks twinsy. I tell it what it is so patients are aware of what to expect

  2. November 10, 2016 / 6:42 pm

    Your skin is absolutely glowing! Is this the same laser they use to even out atrophic scarring? I went in for a consultation and they told me to come back after the breakouts stopped entirely.

    • November 10, 2016 / 8:15 pm

      Thanks Renu. Do you remember what brand? We also use this for scars. For atrophic scarring, you may need a combination treatment (fillers, high strength TCA) depending on how deep the scar is. Your doctor is right, active acne should be under control when you're considering laser. this is the next step for you once your breakouts become minimal and/or correctly managed

    • November 10, 2016 / 9:09 pm

      I'm afraid I don't know which brand (or that lasers had brands till you just told me). My regular derm had referred me (for the scarring) to another MD, who said he would begin with a chemical peel, once the breakouts had completely stopped, and do "laser treatment" if needed – that's the only info I took down at the time. I'll get more information once I go back, and let you know. The breakouts are tapering down nicely, but not fully gone.

    • November 10, 2016 / 11:34 pm

      I'd be interested to know how it works for you coz there are non-ablative and ablative lasers. Chemical peel is usually for very mild cases so hopefully that one will suffice

  3. November 10, 2016 / 8:22 pm

    Thank you for this, Kathryne. I would like to have Laser and IPL but the price has kept me back so far. Is the 4% hydroquinone a prescription? I've used 2% and it doesn't do much for me. I'd like to try a higher percentage. Your skin looks fantastic!

    • November 10, 2016 / 9:09 pm

      Thanks Allison. Yes, 4% hydroquinone is obtained only thru Rx. It's a pricey procedure but it's totally worth it. If you compute all the skincare products you've spent in your lifetime but didn't see improvement, I believe going the laser route is your best option. You just have to do further research and have it done in a clinic setting, supervised by either of the following: Doctor, RN, Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant because these are the only ones who are allowed to fire a laser

  4. November 11, 2016 / 12:23 am

    I've thought about this but I never really knew what it would take. Thanks for your inclusive explanation. If only it would turn me back to 42 I'd love to have this done.

  5. November 11, 2016 / 12:58 am

    I want to have this done for the rough texture in my Tzone.

  6. November 11, 2016 / 2:41 am

    I want to do this again. I want to get IPL to help reduce my rosacea. I loved learning about your experience. Your skin is so beautiful.

  7. November 11, 2016 / 2:41 am

    Holy smokes, you look stunning!!! Thanks for giving us the low down on what goes on. Laser treatment is something I hope to get at some point in life!

  8. November 11, 2016 / 2:53 am

    What city do you live in? Have you preformed this treatment on brown skin / women of color? I would be interested but i'm scared to death of scaring from any laser treatment.

    • November 11, 2016 / 4:46 am

      Aloha Lily, our clinic is based in Kapolei, Hawaii (island of Oahu). The machine that we used for laser is indicated for all skin color, we just need to adjust the setting. The IPL however is up to skin type V (try using Fitzpatrick skin type to find out yours), which basically covers brown skin. It's important to do your research and make sure that the laser they're going to use for you is indicated for brown or darker skin color. Hope that helps

  9. November 11, 2016 / 3:02 am

    The 'after' pix says it all. You look amazing!

  10. November 11, 2016 / 4:59 am

    You have beautiful skin so based on your recommendation, I would love to try it out!

  11. November 12, 2016 / 12:38 am

    I love this post! It's really great to get the info from someone who has not only had the procedure but truly know they're stuff.

  12. November 12, 2016 / 6:55 pm

    You look amazing! I love Cetaphil cleansers because it's so gentle. When I got my eye liner tattooed that is what I used and continue to use – it's amazing. This is not a treatment my face can handle… we did a lot of laser in the plastic surgeon office I worked and my patients always loved their after… but my skin is just too sensitive.

  13. November 13, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    I've been wanting to get this done but my skin is so sensitive that it scares me a little. Your skin does look amazing though.

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