Social downtime (when you won’t want to leave the house) can stretch for several days for fractional treatments and more than two weeks for fully ablative treatments.
During that recovery time, your skin will be swollen and develop scabs or crusting. You’ll first notice that your skin is raw, which can feel itchy and painful. You may also have some pinpoint bleeding, particularly following a more ablative treatment.
It will feel like an exaggerated sunburn, but ice packs will help take down the sting within one to two hours. Over-the-counter pain relievers can offer some additional relief, and doctors may prescribe stronger pain medication for aggressive fully ablative treatments.
Swelling can be managed with prescription steroids and ice packs as well as keeping your head elevated while sleeping.
Follow your doctor’s precise instructions for gently cleansing and moisturizing the treated area. They may recommend or even provide specific medical-grade skin-care products for you.
It’s important to keep your skin protected and moist throughout the healing process—initially with ointments and thick creams, then with lighter creams and serums down the line—to encourage healthy cell turnover and prevent scarring.
After the initial healing phase, your skin can remain pink for several weeks. You can apply makeup, to conceal redness, but only after new growth covers the treated area.
When you go out of the house, be especially mindful of sun exposure. Your fresh, new skin will be sensitive, so a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is a must.