My CO2 Laser Resurfacing Patient Diary
Before laser pictures
This is the day I had the procedure done. Dr Gavin Chan was the attending physician and was brilliant. The anaesthetist Dr Cox was also extremely reassuring. The staff at VCI were all wonderful. I was very nervous and the driver from VCI came and collected me to take me to my surgery. On arrival my observations were taken and medical history clarified by the nurse who was a lovely young man. Dr Chan came to see me and took photos before starting. On going into the operating room I was extremely surprised to find it was a proper operating theatre. A bit daunting but onward and upward and then we proceeded with the treatment. I was given a light sedation and local anaesthetic nerve block in my face. I was mostly aware of what was going on vaguely but felt no pain. Once finished I was taken to a recovery room and Vaseline was applied to my whole face. I was told not to touch my face again until the next day when it would be cleaned by a nurse at VCI. My face was very swollen and my eyes were slanted. I was shocked at how I looked; I did not look like me at all. Blood and plasma pooled into the Vaseline as the day progressed and dripped a bit. This made my face look a whole lot worse than it really felt. The most annoying thing was the nerve blocks in my face as the effects lasted for over 12 hours. Once the nerve blocks wore off and I was able to use my muscles again I noticed that the swelling receded a bit. I did not have much pain that night, probably a 1-2 on a scale of 1 to 10 and did not have any pain killers. I slept upright which was uncomfortable.
I woke up this morning after a very fitful night of getting up and down and making cups of tea. My face was horrible with a lot of blood, plasma and Vaseline congealed into crusts. I noted that the swelling was a lot less than yesterday. I had no pain and the only time my face felt a bit of a sting was when I went outside as it was very cold, windy and raining. I attended VCI where the nurse cleaned my face. She attempted to put infra-red light on my face afterwards to aid healing but I declined it as I could not tolerate the intensity of the light coming through my closed eyelids, which has been covered with rolled up damp gauze and covered again with rubber goggles. My face stung a little as she used saline when cleaning my face which has salt in it. Overall my face is looking much better than yesterday, especially after the clean-up. Writing this in the afternoon I have just cleansed my face again and cleaned some more muck off and have no pain. Vaseline is messy and my new best friend, the worst part being that it gets into your hair, clothing and bedding.
On waking this morning from a few hours of fitful sleep I was a bit panicked as my face felt tight and swollen. It also felt dry and crusty as I had the heater going in the room due to the extreme cold weather. After putting a bit more Vaseline on my face and having a cup of tea I headed to VCI for my face to be washed. Lisa (who attended me) was happy with my face and stated that some crusting had started to come off and I had some areas of new pink skin around the eyes and upper forehead. I have no pain at all and only feel pressure in my face if I have to bend down. My face still feels more swollen than yesterday but looks a lot better. The puffiness on my upper eyelids has gone down a bit with my lower lids and cheeks being the most swollen. Not so many blood spots oozing through now and I am amazed at how quickly the skin actually regenerates. I did another wash in the afternoon and a little more crusting lifted. I repeated the process again in the evening in the shower and a bit more crusting came off. Today I started to itch on the face so I guess that means I am healing.
I slept fitfully again and woke at 5.00 am feeling swollen and tight in the face. I jumped in the shower and gave my face a good clean. I find that I am able to deal with the cleaning better in the shower than doing it in the sink as the Vaseline comes off better. My face is still puffy, more so on the right side than the left. The crusting has come off some more and seems to be more stubborn across the cheeks as I think Dr Gavin did more passes with the laser in that area. New pink skin can be seen underneath where the crusts have lifted. Some parts look quite red while others are pinker. The itching is still going on today but is not intolerable. I need to try and sleep more upright but that has been difficult. I use 5 pillows but find that as I am sleeping I slip down and then the face swells more again. I am also hand washing clothing and pillowslips as I go because I am doing this from a motel room and cannot be leaving a mess. I washed my face tonight and a lot of the crusting on the cheeks came off and I have noticed that I have a large and wobbly double chin that is not normally like that. I am assuming that this is fluid, the same as my face.
I woke at 3.00 am again with a tight and puffy face after having only slept for 2 hours. I immediately got into the shower and washed my face. Some more crusting came off and the most stubborn bits now are on my upper lip, chin and nose. There is also some on my forehead and it looks much like a T-zone. I made a cup of tea and went back to sleep for a bit and again woke feeling (and looking) very puffy, especially along my top lip. Today I am going home and after leaving the motel went for my appointment at VCI Templestowe. Once there I had my face washed, my hair washed by a hairdresser and I also saw Dr Gavin. It was bliss having my hair washed for me as I am a person who washes it daily. I have not been able to wash it for 5 days and it is like an oil slick, full of Vaseline. When I arrived back home tonight I immediately got into the shower and washed my face again. Some more crusting has come off with the stubborn chin and upper lip areas still having a layer of quite thick and stubborn dead skin. I had noticed I have a swelling in the lower part of the front of my neck and I feel that it has to do with the fluid draining that was giving me the double chin. I still have the double chin today but it is not as puffy as yesterday. I will keep an eye on it over the next few days. My face is quite red where the crusting has come off and most of the swelling is now in my cheeks and lip areas. The swelling on my forehead has receded now and my face is still quite itchy, mainly where there is still crusting.
I woke this morning after having had the best sleep since I had my procedure done. I was back at home and was able to sleep in a recliner lounge chair. When I woke I did not feel as puffed up as I had been over the last 5 days. My face is still quite puffy and I was able to wash some more of the crusting off today. There are still some stubborn crusts on my upper lip and under the lower lip as well. There is also a small bit on my nose and tightness which is more like dry skin on the forehead. My cheeks are now clear and I am still red in the face. I know the redness will take some time to go away and it is a matter of being patient. There is still a little bit of itchiness but not as bad as it was yesterday. I was able to wash my own hair today and did it twice in the shower to get all of the oiliness out. The double chin has gone down a little bit but is still there but the swelling I had noticed yesterday that had worried me went down overnight. I assume this is because I was able to sleep in the recliner in an upright position. Can’t wait to sleep in the bed and to lie down normally! I have been using less Vaseline today, keeping it mainly to the crusted areas and only a fine layer elsewhere.
I woke at 5.00 am and went and had a shower as I was aware my face felt dry and tight. I noticed that I had marked my skin in a number of places.by scratching during the night. The skin is very fragile and some bleeding had taken place under the skin but it was not broken. There are still crusts on my upper lip and underneath my lower lip, just above the chin area. These bits, along with the middle of my nose are very stubborn and just do not want to come off. I am using Vaseline on those dry areas and a post procedure ointment on the other parts of my face as it is very dry and itchy. Today I washed my face 4 times and once again tonight. The swelling has gone down a little but my face still looks puffy. The redness is still there, mainly on the lower half of my face under my eyes. The forehead is more of a pink colour. I have been very tired and slept in the recliner again in the afternoon like yesterday. I think the whole thing has caught up with me, being away for 5 days in a motel and the procedure as well. I have been sleeping better since I got home and have the recliner.
Again I woke with a dry face and noted that I had been scratching myself in my sleep again. The swelling has gone down a bit more and the crusting on the upper lip and under the lower lip is still not budging. I went to Mildura today to purchase some mineral makeup as I have to start back at work next week. My face was a talking point as it is still red and has the bloody marks under the skin. The girls at the beauty salon were intrigued and also excited saying they could not wait until they could see the finished result. I was able to tell them about my experience with VCI and with Dr Gavin and they were very interested. I also had a conversation with the guy I buy my coffee from every day. All of these people were amazed at my photos showing my journey with resurfacing. I am still itching but not as much.
It was much the same as day 8. I have been washing my face a bit less today (only 3 times). The crusting is still hanging on under my lower and upper lip. I am itching on and off and my face has nearly gone back to normal in regards to swelling. I still have a bit of swelling in the lower face and appear to have jowls. Only 2 days to go before I start work and I am a bit anxious about the crusting as well as the red marks from the blood under the skin where I have scratched myself. I will have to do a good job covering up with make-up. I am also beginning to get some whiteheads on the areas that have crusting and still have Vaseline on them. These cause pain when pressed, like pimples and come to a head. I have been able to get them off when I wash the affected areas and use gauze on them. My face is not as red today as it has been.
Today was pretty much the same as yesterday. There is still crusting on the upper lip and below the bottom lip. I think it seems to be a bit finer now though. I have felt tired and depressed today but I did read somewhere that people who get resurfacing done can tend to feel depressed into the 2nd week. My skin is pink now, not red. It only goes redder if I am sitting in front of the fire or when I have my shower. It pales down to pink again after that. I have 2 days left before I start work and am really hoping this last bit of crusting goes away before then. My skin overall feels very dry and I am moisturising it all the time. There are still red marks under the skin from my scratching but they seem to be fading a bit now. I am not itching much now, only sometimes and I consciously try not to scratch. I am still keeping up with washing my face 3 times a day as the Vaseline I am using on the crusting makes my face feel yucky as it spreads. I also feel that the Vaseline contributes to itching. I have been sending Dr Gavin photos on a daily basis so that he can keep an eye on how my skin is looking. He has been great all along. He is just a fantastic doctor who cares and has time for his patients even though he is a very busy man.
Well today is the 11th day and I am going back to work tomorrow. My skin is feeling a bit less fragile now and has stopped making awful red marks when I have accidentally itched. It is very dry and the crusting that was being so stubborn is all but gone apart from a very small area on the top lip. I have only done 2 washes today and have also been using a lot of moisturiser to try and take away some of the dryness. There is very light peeling around my forehead and hairline of bits of paper fine skin. This afternoon I did a trial run of putting on some make-up for tomorrow and I am just amazed at the difference in how I look. I still have the deep wrinkling which I had never expected to go away but my skin now has an even texture, light bounces off it and I no longer look sallow. It is a total transformation and with the make-up on I look completely different to how I did just a mere 12 days ago. I am very, very pleased with the result and also the expertise and care extended by Dr Gavin Chan. Also I have nothing but praise for all of the staff I had dealings with at the Victorian Cosmetic Institute (VCI). I expect that my skin is going to get even better now over the coming months and I will be taking extra special care to look after it from here on in.
10 weeks after laser