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Laguna Beach

Lasered: The first 48 hours – I look like a Jackson Pollock painting and feel like a jam sandwich


Some people have bad hair days. Recently I’ve been having bad face days.  

Sixty-two years on Earth will do that to you, especially when baby oil was your suntan lotion of choice in your youth.

Friends of mine have been sharing similar tales of woe. 

So recently I decided to sacrifice myself for the greater good of my peers, and experiment with fractional laser facial skin resurfacing. 

Someone had to have the courage to look like a speckled egg for a day or two; the fortitude to withstand criticism that one should go wrinkly into that dark night and not fight Nature; and the willingness to put Vaseline on her face for at least three consecutive days.

And, humbly, I decided that person would be me.

After all, I’ve been highlighting my hair for 40 years. Why not my face? Why not get rid of a few wrinkles, smooth out the worst of my blotches; it’s not as if I was getting a new nose! It’s all a matter of degree, isn’t it? 

Or so I told myself.

So the plan was in place.

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Submitted photo

Dr. Adrienne O’Connell, cosmetic dermatologist and ER physician

Fortunately, within half an hour of meeting her, I found I simply adored my cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Adrienne O’Connell. She’s sweet, informative, and talented – and she’s also an ER doctor, completing several shifts a week at an Anaheim hospital. 

I found it comforting to know that if I looked in the mirror after the laser treatment and had a heart attack, she’d be right by my side to resuscitate me.

As it turned out, that wasn’t necessary.

For 45 minutes, while my face numbed in response to a topical cream, we chatted about all kinds of fascinating facts related to cosmetic dermatology these days.

Do you know what bunny lines are? They’re wrinkles across the bridge of your nose – and in many cases, they can be a dead giveaway that too much Botox has been injected into frown lines, which have then migrated downwards. 

Celebs have finally cottoned on (bunny lines, ha ha!) to this reality, Dr. Adrienne says, and anyway these days doctors have a much lighter touch with Botox and fillers. 

And, hooray, big lips are on the way out. (But don’t Botox them too much, or you won’t be able to drink from a straw.)

Which, mind you, would be good for the planet. Who needs straws?

Cosmetic dermatology is not just for the vain

And of course now you can even Botox away the bunny lines.

You’d be amazed at the different ways Botox is used these days to de-wrinkle and lift and fix, and not just the face. I was astonished. 

Lasers, too, have made an enormous difference in the lives of men and women whose skin, for example, was pitted after suffering acne in their teens.  That use goes way beyond vanity into true medical need. 

If you have specific issues that until now you’ve felt couldn’t be fixed, especially issues that are keeping you from participating fully in life, I’d say it is well worth a consultation. Dr. Adrienne had some very heartwarming stories to share.

But back to vain ol’ me. 

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You didn’t really think I’d publish a photo of myself the day after, did you? This was my attire of choice for Day One 

The procedure was about to begin. I lay back on a couch with little blinders (or whatever they are called!) on my eyes. “You’ll feel sharp tingles,” Dr. Adrienne said. “This won’t take much more than ten minutes.” 

Yes, it really doesn’t take long, though I was only getting half my face done – the other half is eyes and bangs, camouflage enough.

Dr. Adrienne also told me that if at any time I needed a break, to let her know. I wasn’t about to do that. Brasfields are brave.

Well, I didn’t need to be that brave. I felt as though my chin and cheeks were the training ground for a hive of young bees to test out their stings – tingles to be sure, but nothing unbearable. Not to say that I wasn’t glad to be done.

Immediately after the procedure, I looked pretty normal, just a little pink. “That’s about the best you’re going to look for the next 48 hours,” Dr. A warned.

Which was a little concerning, but not alarming, as I’d been warned about some redness and swelling, though the downtime for this treatment is usually not more than about five days.

From Jackson Pollock painting to tropical fruit look-alike

The procedure took place around four thirty in the afternoon. By seven or so, I looked a little like a Jackson Pollock painting, with dots of red over my chin and cheeks. I had some swelling too, but bags of frozen peas helped cool my face down.

As instructed, I covered my face with Vaseline or Aquaphor to keep it moist, which I will need to do for a few days. (This resulted in a weird empathy for what it would be like to be a jam sandwich, supposing that jam sandwiches were sensate.)

The next morning (I’m writing this the day after), I woke to a plumpish pink face, still spotty – right now I resemble an unusual tropical fruit, a cross between the outside of a guava and the inside of a pomegranate. 

Soon I’ll be able to splash my face with vinegar and water to cleanse it…oh, how the simple things in life can bring such joy!

Tomorrow I should be a lighter shade of pink and far less spotty.

So far, so good, except for the jam sandwich feeling, which is a little aggravating, and my glasses are a bit foggy with Vaseline, but it’s all in the interests of journalism, right? I’ll report back in a week with before and after photos. 

Or not…

Laguna Beach Aesthetics is located at 32392 S Coast Highway. Visit the website at or call (949) 415-4310 for more information.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

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Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

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.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

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