It’s been a little more than three months since I had the laser Active FX resurfacing procedure at Dr. Zimmet’s office. I am happier than ever with the results. My skin has never looked better. It has continued to improve since I had the procedure. The thing I notice most is that my skin is tighter overall than it was before. Because the treatment stimulates collagen formation, it should continue to improve for a year. Friends who know that I had the treatment and who don’t see me every day have remarked that they can see the difference from month to month. It’s been very gratifying to receive lots of nice compliments on my skin.
The only regret that I have is that I didn’t have the treatment done on my neck at the same time. A friend of mine is about to have the laser FX treatment on her face, neck AND chest. We are about the same age, and one of her main complaints is sun damage including large freckles and brown spots on her skin. I look forward to seeing her results. I sort-of jokingly told Dr. Zimmet that if money were not an object I would have had the treatment on my entire body. That would have made for an interesting recovery!
Clearly, I would recommend the laser FX treatment to almost anyone. The discomfort was minimal, and the results have been totally worth it. Seven days in the house was an investment, but I was prepared for it and it went by quickly. I would definitely do it again. Thank you to everyone for reading my laser FX diary and for your comments. This has been a fun and rewarding adventure.
Here is the third and final part of the video from my laser resurfacing procedure, taken by my talented friend Julia Hilder of Hilder Productions. If I do say so myself, my skin looks great. I will post additional “after” pictures soon.
It’s Day 7 and I am going about my normal activities. So far, no one has pointed and/or gasped. Without the ointment now my face feels tight and very, very smooth. Still a tiny bit of peeling and the one bruise over my right eyebrow still slightly visible. I’m obsessed with being covered with sunscreen, and yet still, for the few minutes I’m in really intense sun walking to my car between meetings, I’m paranoid about my tender new skin. I put on sunscreen at 6:30 in the morning to walk the dog–that’s new. I’m carrying sunscreen in my car in case I need to re-apply, or ever forget to put it on in the first place (unlikely).
It’s the evening of the procedure day and I want to give a quick recap. First we shot some “before” pictures. At about an hour before the actual procedure began Dr. Zimmet’s aesthetician, Hadley, covered my face with a topical anesthetic and gave me a Xanax (mild tranquilizer) and a Vicodin (pain reliever). After about 30 minutes my face started to feel quite numb. After 60 minutes, Dr. Zimmet came and in and administered shots (nerve blockers) to my forehead, near my eyes, and near my mouth. The shots weren’t too bad; Dr. Zimmet “shakes” the area so the shot doesn’t pinch much. And by this time I was feeling the Xanax, which tends to make everything easier. I tied my hair back and Hadley gave me a headband to get all of my hair off my face. They started the chiller—chilled air was blowing on my face the entire time, which felt really good, because the primary feeling from the laser was heat.
Dr. Zimmet started the laser treatment around the edges of my face—he called that “feathering,” I’m not sure why. I think he starts there because the sensation is the least strong. The most sensitive place was around my mouth. It reminded me a little of the sensation with Thermage, which is kind of like being zapped with something hot. He did my eyelids last, and I think using a different tip. I expected that area to be the most sensitive but it wasn’t bad at all. The whole procedure took maybe 30-35 minutes. Afterwards, they gave me a mirror. My face was already kind of brown with little spots all over my skin. We took some more pictures, and then Hadley covered my face with ointment. Dr. Zimmet had told me that it would feel like a major sunburn, and having had some bad sunburns in my teens I remember what that feels like, but I think this may have been even hotter. They gave me some ice to hold to my face, and I did so all the way home. (I went through P. Terry’s–best veggie burgers in Austin!–drive-through on the way home, and I’m sure the guy thought I looked freakish, but I was starving and didn’t really care).
When I got home I felt very sleepy, probably from the Xanax. (And I’m still sleepy now, so will post the recovery directions tomorrow.) When I woke up it felt like most of the ointment had soaked in, so I put some more on and took a close look at my face. It’s pretty puffy, which is normal for the first couple of days. It’s quite brown, like someone with really terrible sun damage. You can see the little dots created by the machine. I took a few pictures. I don’t really feel pain unless I touch my face; the right side feels a little bit sore. I’m supposed to put the ointment on four times a day and not let my face get dry, and I think I might need to apply it even more than that because it feels like it’s soaking in. It still feels kind of hot, and tight. All of which I expected. Can’t wait to see what I look like when I wake up in the morning!
Today is the day! I woke up at 4 a.m. with that pre-vacation sort of anticipation. I was happy to have time to walk my dog, since he probably won’t have a walk for the next four days unless I can get a friend to walk him. I remembered to wear my glasses instead of contacts, since they’ll be putting the disc things in my eyes before the treatment. I’m here now at Dr. Zimmet’s office, early to meet Julia who is going to interview me and Dr. Zimmet, and possibly Lydia. He went over the entire procedure with me again and asked several times if I had questions. They are very, very thorough here with preparations and checking in. Hadley called yesterday to make sure I’d gotten my prescriptions. I’ve remembered not to wash my face with anything but mild soap (not exfoliating) the last couple of days and I also remembered to take the Valtrex twice yesterday and once this morning. I’m a little nervous . . . curious what it will feel like and will be happy when the actual procedure is over. Dr. Zimmet told me again that I’ll look sunburned and possibly puffy at first and that in the days to come it might feel like the getting-back-to-normal process is taking a long time. I think that will be one of the valuable things about this diary. There are lots of before-and-after pictures online, but I haven’t seen any of the in-between pictures. I plan to post a picture or two every day so you, my readers (I hope there will be some readers!) can see the whole process—the good, bad and the ugly.
Tomorrow is the day. I’m excited. Yesterday I bought some inexpensive blue pillowcases at Target. Dr. Zimmet suggested old pillowcases but I don’t have any of those (except some that I used to cover up plants during winter freezes). This evening I am planning to go grocery shopping and to the movie store.
Dr. Zimmet’s office called in two prescriptions for me and I picked them up at Walgreen’s on 45th and Guadalupe. Continue reading →
Dr. Zimmet called me on Friday to discuss the pre-op instructions, and I took these notes.
“Basically, I wanted to tell you what to expect on the day of your appointment. And there are a couple of medications we might want you to take. We prescribe Valtrex to everyone whether or not you have a history of fever blisters, as a precaution; and a painkiller in case you have trouble sleeping the first night. You come in an hour before your appointment, we take some photos, you’ll review the consent form, and we’ll apply a topical anesthetic. After 30 minutes we’ll administer a local anesthetic nerve block and, if you’d like, we can give you a Xanax.” (Yes, please!) “If you do elect to take the Xanax we’d want someone to drive you home.” Continue reading →
Four days away and have to admit, I’m getting a bit nervous. Will it hurt? Will I be totally grossed out by what I look like? Will I look OK when I finally do venture out on the sixth day after the procedure? It has been challenging to keep all meetings and social activities off my calendar for five days without disclosing why. I made the mistake of telling a couple of people that I was going out of town. It just seemed easier than coming up with another excuse for people I didn’t want to tell. Now I’m worried that I won’t remember who I said that to, and that I’ll slip up later. “What a tangled web we weave . . . “ Also, as I’m pretty active on social media and it’s conceivable that they could wonder where my vacation pictures are. OK, that’s probably going too far with the worrying. Continue reading →
Today I arranged for a videographer to shoot my procedure. Dr. Zimmet had someone in mind who couldn’t do it on the day I wanted the procedure, so we got my colleague and friend Julia Hilder. I waited until after I’d lined her up and explained the project (filming for two hours and a couple of interviews) to tell her that I am the actual patient. I was quite surprised when she emailed back that she “knows it well” referring to laser resurfacing. Her main issue was sun spots—she’s blond and has fair skin. She said that her spots faded and her skin tightened—she described the effect as subtle. I’m counting on a lot more than subtle. I should have asked what kind of equipment was used when she did it, as according to Dr. Zimmet that can make a big difference.
When Dr. Zimmet had one of his staff perform the procedure on him, he used two different kinds of anesthetic, one on each side of his face, so that he could tell which was more effective. I’m not worried about the pain, in part because I’ve had a number of things done now and imagine that this won’t be too different. Back when I had the series of photofacial treatments I remember Dr. Zimmet saying that it would feel like my face was being snapped by a rubber band. Some of the zaps were uncomfortable but at the same time I always thought that it had to hurt a bit to be really effective.
Now that I think about it I have no idea what this will feel like and I haven’t really asked. I’ll definitely be taking a Xanax to take the edge off. The only thing I’ve had done that hurt kind of a lot was the shots in my lips, which I guess are harder to anesthetize. I still got it done a second time, though, because I liked the results so much. One thing I really, really appreciate about Dr. Zimmet is that you wouldn’t look at me and think “Oh, she had her lips done.” He even cautioned me the first time I had it done that he would be somewhat conservative. (When you have a few hours to waste, check out www.awfulplasticsurgery.com for some hideous celebrity examples of way overdone lips—Lindsay Lohan, Melanie Griffith and Carson Kressley are two that come to mind and there are many, many others.)
I went to Dr. Zimmet today for the initial consultation. He looked at my skin with a very bright light (I can only imagine what my skin—or anyone’s, for that matter—looks like with that level of scrutiny). He asked what my goals are. I’m most interested in overall tightening, improving my skin’s texture, and shrinking my pores. He said that it would definitely improve the size of my pores, and since they really bug me, that was good news. He also told me that they will perform the treatment on my eyelids, which I didn’t realize. I had thermage on my eyelids a couple of years ago, and while I could see the results I still consider my eyelids the best candidate for surgery if I ever decide to take that step. So I’m happy to learn that this treatment might improve my eyelids too; that’s a big bonus.
Dr. Zimmet describes laser resurfacing as one of his favorite treatments because of the really good results that his patients see. There are some pretty dramatic before and after photos on the Lumenis (brand of laser equipment Dr. Zimmet uses) website. Continue reading →