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Erbium (Er:YAG) laser

Erbium lasers fire infrared light onto the skin in short bursts, helping to reduce wrinkles, scars and age spots.

Before You Go

Questions to ask your doctor:

  • Do you recommend one deep or multiple light treatments?
  • Can I combine Er:YAG laser resurfacing with other laser skin procedures?

Pre-procedure prep for Erbium (Er:YAG) laser: Avoid taking aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications for at least 14 days before an Er:YAG laser treatment. This will help decrease your chances of bleeding during the procedure. Your physician may prescribe topical retinoic acid creams, bleaching agents (like hydroquinone), and AHAs for six weeks leading up to your laser treatment.

The bleaching cream helps skin from fading or darkening, resulting in skin that appears even and untextured. These preparations are meant to reduce inflammation and discoloration from the laser, but their effectiveness is scientifically unproven.

Antiviral drugs such as Valtrex are usually prescribed before this procedure regardless of herpes (cold sore) outbreak history. Antibiotics may be prescribed.

On the day of treatment: Preparing for your Er:YAG laser treatment is fairly simple, and doesn't require that you do more than wash your face with an antibacterial soap before heading to your physician's office.

What To Expect

The Er:YAG destroys skin layer by layer. The device may be passed over your skin two or three times to achieve the best effect. You may also see pinpoints of blood. The treated ares are usually covered with Vaseline or another ointment.

Who should do it: See a licensed plastic surgeon or cosmetic dermatologist trained in erbium laser treatments. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, The American Society of Dermatologic Surgeons and the American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery are good resources to find a laser practitioners. Erbium laser treatments are conducted as outpatient procedures in a medical office or hospital.

Duration: For full face treatments, the procedure can last more than an hour, but for a small area it can take as little as 30 minutes.

How Painful Is It?

The Er:YAG laser is reportedly less painful than the CO2 laser. Your doctor will strive to make the procedure pain-free, though some moderate discomfort is likely.

Options for anesthesia: During the procedure, the doctor may opt to use a topical anesthetic for pain in addition to a mild sedative. For patients undergoing a full face treatment, general anesthesia can be used since the treatment will take longer.

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