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Suddenly I have skin in the game: Lasered, the sequel…my face, 10 days later


You should have seen his face.

Yes, his face.

My son Dylan’s, that is.

Why? Well, here’s the background.

So, as some readers already know, two weeks ago, I decided in the interests of science, and my art – not because of vanity, no, not at all – to experiment with fractional CO2 laser resurfacing of the face. Or half-face, because that’s where most of my wrinkles are (or were?? Read on!).

Because Laguna Beach Aesthetics offered Stu News readers a discount, I headed to cosmetic dermatologist – and ER physician – Dr. Adrienne O’Connell’s consulting rooms to be zapped and “rejuvenated.” 

What is fractional laser rejuvenation?

This is how her website describes the procedure:

Fractionated or “pixilated” carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers are one of the latest advances in non-surgical skin rejuvenation treatments. [They] excel at treating deeper wrinkles, more severe textural changes from sun damage, age spots, crow’s feet, droopy eyelids, sagging skin, blotchiness, acne scars, and surgical or traumatic scars.

Fractional CO2 Laser resurfacing is a very effective treatment for overall skin rejuvenation by brightening and tightening the skin.

In layman’s terms, the laser destroys some cells beneath the upper layer of the skin, so the body responds by creating a bunch of new cells, which look a whole lot better than the old cells…

Or something like that. 

Before the procedure

Dr. O’Connell – Adrienne – had told me that the downtime would only be five days or so, possibly less, with the lightest treatment, so I told her, what the heck, go for the moderate treatment, one step up (or one step deeper, I should say), since I had plenty of writing to do and books to read and a husband who actually likes grocery shopping (how did I get so lucky?).

Because I had half my face done, for several days I looked as though I had grown a hairless red beard. My cheeks swelled a little, but no one would have mistaken me for a chipmunk.

I religiously followed instructions, rinsing my skin only with cool water, and later (this is important) with a vinegar and water mix – said to improve healing because of vinegar’s antiseptic qualities – afterwards slathering Aquaphor on my face to keep it moist.

That sticky feeling was the worst, especially when after several days my skin began to itch also.

The temptation to scratch was overwhelming by day four, but I resisted, instead contorting my mouth and cheeks into strange shapes, as if that would help, which it didn’t, but somehow gave me a sense of control, if a little perturbing to husband Bill.

By day five I was much less itchy, but still rather pink and blotchy. I wasn’t surprised, as Adrienne had told me some people take longer than others to heal, and as a pessimist, I expected to be on the slow side of the spectrum.

Heal doesn’t feel like the right word, in any case, because there’s no bleeding (or only initially for some people, and then just very spottily) and no visible sign of peeling. It’s a slow sloughing that occurs with each new day. (Some people notice tiny black dots as the skin gets rid of melanin in blotchy areas.) Nothing actually hurts.

Sticky and sandpapery – but nothing hurts

However, the somewhat sandpapery feel of one’s cheeks and chin around this time (when briefly dry before re-moisturizing) can be a little disconcerting. That doesn’t last long, though.

I stayed pink enough for another day or two to choose not to emerge from my house and be seen, partly because of the still-obvious demarcation between the two halves of my face. If my whole complexion from brow to chin had been a unified blush, I think I would have been okay being out in public.

Around day six I did begin to worry about an event coming up in three days – the Susi Q Legacy Ball – wondering if I’d be presentable.

But I had a great back-up plan! The event was Western-themed. So if necessary, I could wear a bandanna over my nose like the baddie in a cowboy movie.

Fortunately that wasn’t necessary. By day seven, make-up easily covered the remaining pinkness. 

After the procedure (a selfie; not scientific…)

And the wrinkles? 

Seriously amazing. I had quite a bit of cross-hatching on my cheeks on either side of my mouth, and now, while of course I still have wrinkles, and would look very peculiar at my age if I didn’t, the lines don’t seem quite as deep and are farther apart. The areas of my skin that used to look like crumpled pieces of paper now look smoother.

Several people who had read last week’s article took a close look at my face at the Susi Q event and pronounced it glowing.

The good news is that the improvement apparently continues for six months.

So I’m pretty happy.

And my son’s face?

And why did I say you should have seen my son’s face?

Dylan had flown in from New York, where he’s an English professor, for a visit, and we chatted happily until late (on the seventh night after the procedure). 

At midnight or so he made himself an avocado and salad sandwich. (We’re never sure of the main attraction to visiting – us, or California avocados?)

Tired, I took a last sip of my wine and yawned. I went over to the kitchen counter where he stood. I reached for the bottle of vinegar and tucked it under my arm. “Well, goodnight,” I said.

That’s when you had to see his face.

“Mom – why are you taking the salad dressing to bed with you?” he asked, quite reasonably, really. 

So accustomed had I become to washing my face with vinegar and water, it hadn’t occurred to me to explain before grabbing the bottle.

But I am glad to be putting oil and vinegar on my salad again instead of my face, I must admit. 

And that’s the full skinny on my experience.

Laguna Beach Aesthetics can be reached at or by calling (949) 415-4310.

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Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

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