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What happens to your skin after having laser skin treatments?

No matter the reason you decided to have a laser skin treatment, you made an investment of time and money with the hopes of transforming your skin or tweaking trouble spots. The treatments are stepping stones on the journey to a younger, more youthful appearance. What you do following your treatments will take you to the next steps in achieving that goal. You need to include a consistent skin care routine with products that support your skin’s needs and be mindful of staying out of the sun. 

Commonly performed laser skin treatments discussed here include Laser facials, acne treatments, removal of spots, and brown and red pigmentation.

What happens immediately after a treatment?

Your skin is going to feel active at once following non-ablative laser skin treatments. Depending upon the type of treatment, the immediate aftereffects may range from mild redness, moderate swelling or stinging like a sunburn to slight bruising and petechiae (pinpoint red marks below the skin). Often there is little to no irritation experienced.

The laser facial is typically used for skin rejuvenation, lightening, and brightening the skin, and to even out skin tone. Most laser facials are quick, 30 to 45 minutes. Within that time, your skin is flooded with light energy that is stimulating the cells deep in your skin to generate collagen production. The surface of the skin is unharmed although energized and may feel warm. You may see signs of inflammation, moderate swelling, and minor irritation. All are good outcomes and will resolve within hours.

It’s safe to gently cleanse and apply recommended skin care products. Apply a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) SPF of 45 to 50 to the treated area. Especially important: avoid the sun. Your skin is photosensitive and could potentially become hyperpigmented – compromising everything that you just had done.

Acne treatments create heat and redness in the skin. Bruising, redness, and swelling are common aftereffects that will resolve with time. These are good therapeutic results but might not feel too good to you. After the treatment it’s okay to use cold compresses or chilled gel packs for relief. It’s safe to gently cleanse and apply recommended skin care products. Avoid sun exposure and use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen of 45 to 50 is necessary to minimize the risk of PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation).

Spot removals require the laser to target and break up the pigments, leaving the spot looking slightly swollen, red with inflammation and a light frost appearing darker than before the treatment. Cold compresses or chilled gel packs can help to relieve the stinging feeling and reduce the swelling and redness.

It’s safe to gently cleanse and apply recommended skin care products. Apply a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) SPF of 45 to 50 to the treated area. Particularly important: avoid the sun. 

What do to a few days later

Now, your skin is more sensitive to the sun. It’s essential that you keep your skin protected with sunscreen and avoid periods of direct sun exposure. You may experience a minor rash or itching on the treated area. An over-the-counter antihistamine can help to reduce the allergy-like symptoms. 

You can now begin wearing makeup, using retinols, and enjoying a hot tub or sauna if you choose.

What do to weeks later

Treatments for acne should and can be done as often as every two weeks. During the active treatment phase, you need to be vigilant with sunscreen application and limiting sun exposure. Home care products that are recommended as part of your treatment plan should be used as directed.

What to do months later

As you continue your treatment series, it’s important to be consistent with your home care routine. Your skin requires hydration, vitamin support, protection of antioxidants, protein rich peptides and sunscreen. If you don’t already have a skin care regimen, talk with your skin care provider about what you should be using for your skin’s needs – both in general and for any specific concerns – acne, melasma, rosacea and spots. For recommendations on which products that support your skin health, talk with your skin care professional.

Semiannual Booster

To continue building collagen in your skin to keep it looking great, you should plan to have a booster treatment at least twice each year. Now that you triggered the production of collagen, an update will keep the changes at the cellular level and continue what has already been started. This is most certainly the case for the laser facial. Brown spots have a way of re-appearing, although not as dark as before treatment. Having a booster assures that you’re keeping the spots under control.

Long-Lasting benefits with lifestyle improvements

Make sunscreen your new BFF.

But how do you get to be friendly with the right one? You’ll want one that protects and moisturizes. So, skip the mass-produced SPF’s you see in the product isle at your favorite store. Get recommendations from your skin care professional. 

Support your overall health.

It will certainly show up in your skin’s health. Stay hydrated, eat clean fresh foods, enjoy exercise, get at least 7 hours of sleep, and do your best to avoid the harsh rays of the sun. You don’t have to make radical changes to your lifestyle, just a few adjustments. You’ll be glad you did!

Say goodbye to tanning beds.

If you haven’t already parted ways with artificial tanning, this is as good a time as ever. Dermatological studies prove tanning beds cause deep tissue damage and premature aging, not to mention skin cancers.

Invest in a good sun-shielding hat, protective clothing, and sunglasses.

Plan to re-apply your SPF multiple times while you spend time outdoors. Avoid the hottest part of day (10am and 2pm) if you can.

These are simple things you can do in supporting the investment you made in the laser skin treatments that will have the longest-lasting effect.



After laser skin treatments, your skin is irritated, which is actually an okay result. The extent to which the skin becomes inflamed, swollen and bruised depends on the type of treatment you received. The healing time post treatment is usually 3 to 5 days to week or so. The amount of downtime is minimal. Often patients go back to their regular daily activities right away following their treatments.

Regardless of the treatment, one common aftereffect is that your skin is now photo sensitive. Protection from the sun is now part of your lifestyle. Using an effective sunscreen is one of the best ways to support your now more youthful, younger looking skin!


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