Fractional CO2 laser treatments are the one of the most beneficial nonsurgical treatments for skin renewal and resurfacing. This type of laser is able to improve the look of wrinkles, scars, stretch marks, and uneven pigmentation issues by generating new, natural collagen production. Collagen is the main structural protein in the skin that gives it strength, elasticity, smoothness, and youthfulness. As we age, the loss of collagen causes wrinkles and dullness in skin texture and appearance. Unlike past CO2 treatments, this procedure has a shorter down time with very low risk of scarring or pigmentation issues.
- How does the Fractional CO2 laser work?
- What to Expect from a Fractional CO2 Treatment
- Fractional CO2 Laser Results
- Side Effects
How does the Fractional CO2 laser work?
The fractional CO2 uses light energy to create small micro-punctures in the skin, approximately the width of a human hair. The laser generates the punctures in a grid like pattern while leaving bridges of untreated skin that allow for quicker healing time. These small punctures shrink and eliminate old collagen and epidermal cells, while promoting new collagen production to improve overall skin texture. The fractional CO2 laser is used most commonly on the face, the décolletage (the neck and neck line), and the back of the hands. It is even safe enough to use on the delicate skin around the eyes, nose, and mouth.
What to Expect from a Fractional CO2 Treatment
You will come to the office one hour before your procedure and a topical anesthetic dressing is placed on the areas to be treated to ensure comfort throughout the process. The actual procedure takes 30 minutes to 1 hour. To ensure additional comfort, cold air is continuously blown on the treated areas to reduce any burning feeling. The skin is then allowed to cool and a petroleum-based gel mask is placed. You will be placed on a regimen of topical skin care for approximately one week. You will receive detailed instructions for after care, and Dr. Zemmel will monitor your healing every step of the way. Down time can vary from 3 to 7 days depending on the depth of the treatment. For patients who have very fine facial wrinkles, a lower laser power is used allowing a quicker recovery. For patients with deeper wrinkles, pigmentation issues, and looser skin, a more aggressive treatment will lead to a slightly longer recovery. Immediately after the treatment you will see a grid pattern of microcrusting over the treated area that lasts approximately 2 days. From there, redness similar to a deep sunburn will persist over the next week. Minimal swelling especially around the eyes may be apparent for up to 3 days after treatment.
Fractional CO2 Laser Results
Soon after your procedure, you will notice a tightening of your skin from the immediate contraction of old collagen. You will also notice significant improvement in the fine wrinkles and an evening out of pigmentation. Your results will continue to evolve over a number of months post-treatment. You will notice changes even six months to one year after treatment as the skin continues to remodel. You will produce new collagen, and your skin will regain its youthful plump, full appearance. The effects of CO2 laser resurfacing are:
- An improvement of skin texture
- A reduction in pore reduction size
- Improvement of fine lines and wrinkles
- A decrease in the depth of acne scars
- Removal of pigmentation issues and age spots
There is also increasing data on improvements of stretch marks of the abdomen and hips with 2-3 treatments. In most cases 2-3 treatments are needed in order to receive maximum results.
The most common side effects are redness and irritation of the treated areas that usually resolves within 1-2 weeks. As with all resurfacing procedures there is a small risk of scarring, hyperpigmentation, and infection. All patients are placed on antibiotic and antiviral medications three days before the procedure in order to prevent infection. Patients will proceed with sunscreen protection for at least 6 months after the procedure to reduce the risk of pigmentation and scarring issues.
Dr. Neil Zemmel will guide you through every step of recovery to guarantee the best result possible.