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The day after a first laser treatment

While getting to know Christine Tatum, chief executive officer of Denver-based communications company Media Salad, Inc., we quickly found a great person to explain the journey to healthy skin we at illuma Advanced Aesthetics are passionate about helping our clients navigate. Our deal was simple: we would introduce Christine to our services, and she would tell the unvarnished truth about her experiences. You can read her first , second, and third posts. We all hope from the resulting series she periodically will maintain on this blog that you learn some interesting things to help you achieve your own skincare goals, laugh a little — and that you visit uat illuma to begin your journey.

Hate is a strong word, and my parents taught me never to hate anyone. However, on this day, I intensely dislike what illuma Advanced Aesthetics Co-owner Fran Valdiris — the Certified Laser Specialist, Registered Medical Assistant and Licensed Aesthetician with more than 13 years of experience as a laser technician and more than two decades of professional experience in the medical field — oh-so-sweetly convinced me to do to myself. 

She is definitely not getting added to my holiday card list. But I’ll give Fran this much: she sure predicted the pain I am experiencing one day after having my first laser treatment for face and neck.

Christine Tatum at 8 a.m. on the day after her first facial laser skin treatment

Over the next few days, Fran explained just before I left her office, my recovery initially would force years of skin damage to the surface, and I would see what she euphemistically called “the coffee beans.” These are small, round, brown and scabby sores, and, apparently, the more damaged your skin, the more coffee beans you make. They appear in full force for first-timers, Fran said, because subsequent laser treatments should be reviving much healthier skin. “Coffee beans” flake off in four to five days. 

I have made a great number of coffee beans. I also have moved on from being Christine Tatumato to looking like a balloon. I am swollen, so I take Fran’s advice: get some good rest, try to sleep while inclined, take extra-strength ibuprofen or Tylenol as directed, moisturize treated skin heavily — and stay out of the sun for crying out loud.

Christine Tatum at 10 p.m. on day after her first facial laser skin treatment.

I learn from this day a couple of things: 

  • The body’s ability to heal itself is amazing — and fascinating. I am sharing selfies I snapped at 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. In that 14 hours, the redness of my skin and my facial swelling subsided significantly. The coffee beans are more pronounced and angrier, but I also can feel them drying and tightening because yes, they’re on track to slough off in just a short time.
  • Skin moisturizer is my friend. As in we are super close because I can feel my skin tightening into what I expect in just a couple of days will become one heckuva a peeling mess. I must confess I have not always been consistent about moisturizing my face daily — and this experience is a painful reminder of how dumb I have been. Moisturizing skin helps keep it hydrated, healthy and refreshed — especially as we age. The oil glands that kept our skin healthy and vibrant in youth basically wind down a bit. Moisturizing daily provides much-needed supplements for loss of oil production. 

Moisturizing facial skin also typically requires one to touch one’s face — and that is the last thing I want to do right now. illuma Advanced Aesthetics also anticipated this about my post-treatment recovery and gave me a bottle of its Spray Moisturizer. Just a couple of uses of this stuff, and I became an instant fan. What a life saver! This generous and soothing moisturizer applied and dried easily — and without leaving a heavy residue. 

Unlike the makeup I found myself trying very unsuccessfully to wear the next day.