LASEK/epi-LASEK is an advanced surface ablation, which was mentioned before, is a non-cutting procedure and no flap is created. It is non-invasive and only the surface of the cornea is touched and no flaps are cut! This is possible by removing a thin layer of skin that covers your cornea, which will naturally grow back after a few days. Hence, there are no flap complications that can occur during or after the procedure!
The skin that covers your eye and cornea is the same as the skin on your arm or face. A small amount of softening solution is placed over the center of the eye the skin is allowed to absorb the solution, which loosens the skin cells. After the solution is removed, the skin is gently slid aside with a blunt surgical spatula and removed to expose the cornea, at which point the laser treatment begins and a bandage contact lens is placed over your eyes to aid in healing.
The bandage contact lens is exactly what it sounds like, a lens with no power that acts as a band-aid until your skin has fully regenerated, which usually takes a week. Immediately after surgery, almost all patients are legal to drive without the aid of glasses or contacts, there are a few exceptions ie. extremely high prescriptions.
In an epi-LASEK procedure, the doctor will use the aid of an epikeratome (or microkeratome) to aid in the separation of the skin with the cornea. The epikeratome uses a blunt plastic separator, which is a mechanical spatula that separates the skin and does not cut a flap. The rest of the procedure remains the same, with a bandage contact lens being placed at the end of the treatment. The epi-LASEK procedure allows patients to heal quicker than a normal LASEK.