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What Is A LASIK Refinement?

LASIK is one of the safest and effective medical procedures performed in the world when performed by an experienced surgeon using most advanced technology. 

Most patients achieve their desired result of 20/20 or better vision with one initial procedure.

Sometimes the patient’s prescription is not fully corrected in one LASIK procedure. In these cases, the patient can have an additional procedure, called a refinement, performed about three to six months after their initial procedure to treat the remaining prescription.

Years later, a patient’s vision can change. If down the road a patient has natural changes to their eye, cornea or to the lens inside the eye, their vision can change, and they may explore an LVC (Laser Vision Correction) refinement procedure to clear things up again.

How are Refinements Performed?

LASIK refinements are performed using one of two surgical techniques.

First, a LASIK refinement can be performed in a very similar manner as an original LASIK procedure.  The surgeon lifts the LASIK flap to expose the lower layers of the cornea, an excimer laser is used to sculpt the tissue to correct the prescription, and then the flap is replaced in position. 

The difference with a LASIK refinement is that the surgeon re-lifts the same LASIK flap that was created in the original LASIK procedure instead of creating a new one.

The second way to perform a refinement on an eye that originally had LASIK is to perform a PRK refinement on the surface of the cornea right on top of the original LASIK flap.  What makes PRK different than LASIK is that there is no flap created or lifted in the PRK procedure.

Instead, the surgeon removes the surface (epithelium or skin) tissue that covers the front part of the cornea, uses an excimer laser to perform the reshaping step, and a contact lens is placed over the treated area to help with comfort during the recovery phase as the tissue heals. 

Refinements can be approached differently based on the duration of time in-between procedures and the preference of the surgeon.  In some instances because of the duration of time and/or surgeon preference, the PRK procedure is performed on top of the patient’s LASIK flap, while in other instances the patient can receive a LASIK refinement. 

Patient considerations about Refinements

Because of the longer healing and recovery time with PRK as compared to LASIK, most patients choose LASIK when they can.  Therefore, it can be important for patients to understand how their LVC provider could choose to approach future refinements.

When patients choose their LVC provider, they also may have the option to purchase a plan that allows them to have future refinement procedures complimentarily or at a reduced cost.  Often what these plans are called by various providers can create the impression that they are all the same, but that is not the case.  Terms and conditions differ among providers, so it’s important for the patient to understand any limitations or requirements in the plan available to them.

Lastly, your provider should be able to let you know the likelihood that you could be a candidate for future refinements before your initial LVC procedure. 

General and ocular health considerations aside, there are limitations to the number of LVC procedures a patient could have based on their starting prescription and their corneal anatomy.

At 20/20 Institute, we provide this information to be helpful for folks, like you, who are exploring their vision correction options. Nothing is a good substitute for a thorough evaluation and discussion with our experienced doctors about your particular situation. 

If you would like to find out about your options from experienced doctors who are committed to transparency with no pressure, give us a call at 303.202.0669 or have us contact you, and we will be happy to arrange for a complimentary LASIK consultation at one of our three convenient Denver locations.

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