I Got A Popular Skincare Laser Treatment And It Went Badly — The Stories You DON'T Hear But Sadly Do Happen

    The journey has been long.

    Hi, I'm Krista, and — as a woman in her 30s — I've unfortunately allowed society to instill in me an unhealthy mindset when it comes to my skin and aging. (Sorry, I am pretty sure I have food in my mouth in the below pic.)

    Krista Torres throwing the peace sign

    So, in January, I got a CO2 CoolPeel® laser treatment which, among other things, is supposed to help soften wrinkles and create a more even skin tone and texture. I convinced myself I needed this — and the harsh lights of restaurant bathrooms made me even more sure that I was in dire need of this procedure.

    So, I got the treatment, and it hurt like hell — the aesthetician said I wouldn't need numbing cream, but I wish I would have requested it. Anyway, the procedure took about 10 minutes and was considered "successful." Redness is expected afterward, and this is exactly what I experienced:

    I was told that the redness would subside after 24-48 hours, but after one week, the redness was still there:

    Krista Torres with red skin.

    I tried to remain calm and let another week go by...and then another...and then another. The redness began developing into patchy areas throughout my face:

    Closeup of Krista Torres' patchy red skin.

    After over a month, the redness wasn't as bad, but I then slowly started developing some discoloration and small bumps on my face:

    I know this is different lighting, but the pic on the left was what my skin looked like before the procedure for reference:

    This is when I decided I had waited long enough. I went back to the place where I had the procedure done and was informed that I developed hyperpigmentation. They prescribed me a low percentage of hydroquinone to dab on areas where there was discoloration.

    Cell makeup of Hydroquinone.

    After using the medication for a few weeks in the areas where the hyperpigmentation had manifested, I was happy to see that it was working to fade some of the discoloration...

    However, it aggravated my skin and started making other spots of hyperpigmentation even worse than before, so I stopped. (I also was still dealing with the bumps which seemed to be getting worse at this point.)

    Closeup of bumps and discoloration on Krista Torres' skin.

    I had been able to mask the hyperpigmentation with makeup, but because the bumps were visible with foundation as you can see in the pic below — it was personally upsetting, and I was feeling very defeated (and exhausted). I was mostly mad at myself because I was realizing how good my skin actually was prior to me trying to make it more youthful and "perfect" with laser treatment.

    A reality in today's society is that sometimes you have to get more than one opinion and shop around until you find a doctor that is right for you. So, that's what I did. I want to preface this by saying that, because of my job, I have access to some of the best experts in the industry. I am fully aware of my privilege and so grateful that I was able to connect with top-rated Beverly Hills dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban.

    After meeting with her, she informed me that what I had developed was rosacea. Luckily, it was a very mild form, but she confirmed that — in addition to hyperpigmentation — CO2 lasers can cause an immune response that triggers rosacea to manifest.

    Rosacea on someone's skin.

    Now, in severe cases of ongoing rosacea, laser technology may be beneficial. In my case, Dr. Shamban believed I could be successfully treated with the right topical agents (plus, with my recent laser experience, I was not ready to do it again). Here is what she gave me:

    Dermal repair cream and facial serum.

    Unfortunately, the Dermal Repair Cream caused me to get cystic-like bumps, and I immediately stopped using it. Dr. Shamban then prescribed me azelaic acid — a topical cream that has anti-inflammatory properties — but it also caused more bumps/irritation. So, I stopped using that as well.

    Closeup of Krista Torres

    And I was back to the drawing board, lol. I started a new cleanser — EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser — and a topical metronidazole prescription that was prescribed through a dermatologist from my medical insurance.

    This new regimen has kept things "under control" for about a month — meaning my skin hasn't had a reaction, which is good, but it really isn't making things better as of yet. Dr. Shamban told me that, at this point, I may just have to wait for things to subside. She said she is confident my skin will eventually heal itself, but since it has been four months at this point, I am just accepting that this is how my skin is now. (Again, I had the laser treatment done in January for reference.)

    So, why did I write this article? There are several reasons, but as lasers and chemical peels become more popular, I mainly wanted to share my experience to help educate others on the risks involved before undergoing these procedures. And I am not a standalone case — this woman's nightmare of getting a facial laser treatment is all the proof you need.

    Looking back now, I do believe it is important to ONLY get treatment from a place you have vetted and trust. I got my treatment at a credible business, but looking back, there were some things that made me a bit uncomfortable that I probably wouldn't overlook knowing what I know now (for example, the aesthetician had me hold a mirror up to my face and basically told me everything that was wrong with it and where I needed fillers and botox).

    Also, I want to share what DID work for me in terms of battling this mild rosacea/hyperpigmentation. I LOVE the EltaMD cleanser. It gets super foamy, and I just love how it makes my skin feel afterward — it's more costly ($30.50) than the Cetaphil cleanser but worth it IMO. The Calm-R I feel has been able to reduce some of the redness, so I would also recommend that.

    EltaMD foaming facial cleanser and Calm-R facial serum

    Lastly, I want to encourage everyone to be nicer to themselves. I now have a newfound appreciation for my skin, and I am learning to accept myself as I creep closer and closer to 40 every day 😜.

    Alright — if you have hyperpigmentation and/or rosacea, share your best tips below to help those of us who need it!!!