Which Patients Are At High Risk For Laser Skin Treatment Complications?

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Laser skin treatment by its very nature is designed to destroy portions of the skin so it can grow back looking healthier and younger. So, even the best candidates for laser resurfacing experience the common side effects of healing such as redness, swelling, oozing and peeling. This is normal as the treated skin rejuvenates itself. However, there are other complications that tend to occur more often in some patients than in others. These risks don’t necessarily mean an individual should not receive laser treatment at all. However, the potential for complications and a plan of action for dealing with any problems should be discussed during the patient consultation.


Individuals with a deeper skin tone are at higher risk for developing areas of dark pigmentation on their face following laser treatment. These blotches of hyperpigmentation may fade over time. They can also sometimes be reduced by the application of a bleaching cream.

Prolonged Redness

It can take up to a year for the pinkness of newly rejuvenated skin to fade back to its normal color. Blonde and redheaded patients tend to experience redness for a longer period of time. Green tinted makeup products can often be used to camouflage this symptom.


Patients who tend to have recurrent acne can usually expect to experience a breakout after laser skin treatment. Individuals who are in the middle of an active acne breakout may not be good candidates for this procedure since it increases inflammation in the already irritated areas.


Very few patients end up with facial scarring after laser skin treatment. However, individuals who are prone to excessive scarring may not be good candidates for this procedure. On the other hand, laser resurfacing is sometimes used to treat facial scars. Patients must be evaluated on a case by case basis to determine if the risks outweigh the benefits.

Cold Sores

Laser resurfacing doesn’t cause viral infections; but patients who are already hosting Herpes Simplex often undergo a recurrence of symptoms. Antiviral medications can sometimes suppress this response. Patients who have experienced cold sores in the past should talk to their dermatologist about getting a prescription for an antiviral prior to treatment.

Disappointing Results

Patients who have deeply lined or sagging skin may not be satisfied with the results of laser resurfacing. They should speak with their dermatologist about more extensive procedures such a facelift.

Poor Healing

Individuals who smoke have a higher risk of complications during healing. They can also expect the healing process to take longer overall. Patients should stop smoking well in advance of treatment to reduce this risk.

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