Do Lasers Cause Sensitive Skin?

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sensitive skin after laser copy
4 days after Carbon dioxide laser resurfacing. You can see the redness, indicating increased sensitivity.

Sensitive skin is a very common problem, affecting up to 45% of the population. Hence, it is no wonder that one of the commonest questions people ask me (with grave concern) – is whether Lasers can cause, or worsen sensitive skin.

The short answer is Yes, it can.
However, there many ways to get around it…

The Type of Lasers Matter

Lasers treat the skin by delivering light energy to the skin, targeting a ‘chromophore’ – or a structure in the skin, depending on he wavelength of the laser light.

Non ablative Laser Dr Siew
Non-ablative lasers do not break the skin surface

Non-ablative lasers, such as the Revital Laser, do not break skin. They target the pigment in the skin, breaking them down and evening out skin tone. The skin barrier remains intact

fractional-laser-senstive skin
Ablative lasers burn the skin surface away.

Ablative Lasers target the water in the skin. They work by vaporizing the skin. Fractional lasers such as the eCO2, SmartXide2 are ablative. They create microscopic holes in the skin, and allow new skin to regenerate.

Because lasers heat up the skin, the energy delivered can increase its reaction to environmental factors such as heat, topical products, etc. Hence it is common to feel that your skin gets red more easily, or there is increased tingling sensation after applying a product – signs that your skin is sensitive.

Naturally, the risk of sensitivity is higher after an ablative laser treatment, compared to a non-ablative one, as the skin barrier is broken in the treatment. Hence, great care is required after fractional laser resurfacing, to make sure that your skin heals properly.

Sensitive Skin After Lasers Should Not Be Permanent

Lasers only increase skin sensitivity for a certain period of time after the treatment. With proper care, your skin will heal properly, and behave normally again. The time taken for your skin to settle down will vary from person to person. It can take as fast as 3 days after a mild laser treatment, or up to 6 months after an intense Carbon Dioxide Resurfacing treatment.

If you have sensitive skin, or a skin condition which affects barrier function, such as eczema, to begin with, then you may experience more sensitivity, for a longer period of time after your laser treatment.

The important thing, is to allow your skin to rest in between treatments. Be VERY CAREFUL of doctors or clinics who tell you that lasers can be done as often as you want – daily, or even twice a day. Lasers are powerful instruments, and not toys, and no matter how light the treatment, they should not be taken lightly.

Post –Treatment Care is Key

After your laser treatment, your skin may even react to products which they do not normally reach to. Avoid scrubs, harsh cleansers, or products containing acids which may weaken the skin further.

Use a good moisturizer, with good barrier functions, especially after an ablative laser treatment, so that your skin is well protected, and has ample time to recover.

If you experience any problems, don’t panic – it is very common. Just consult your doctor, who can advice you further on what you can do. This way, you can be sure you can get the best results from your laser treatment.

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