In natural aging process, combined with exposure to sun and pollution, our skin collagen is destroyed. Collegen is the main protein of connective tissue that keeps skin plump and line-free. Laser resurfacing uses beam of energy light to bore tiny holes in the skin, which works to put the body’s natural collagen production on fast-forward. Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing does this in a way that prevents damage to the top layer of skin, offering maximum results with minimal recovery time.
CO2 Fractional Laser is effective on:
Fine lines and wrinkles
Lax skin around the eyes and loose skin on the neck
Deep creases around the mouth and lower face
Surface scarring – erasing effects of acne and other scarring e.g. stretch marks
Pigmentation – minimizing the appearance of age spots
Uneven pigmentation from aging and UV damage
Actinic Keratosis (AK) – a common pre-cancerous skin condition
In today’s aesthetic industry CO2 Fractional Laser Skin Resurfacing is now the most popular skin tightening and skin rejuvenation treatment.
How does laser skin resurfacing work?
It’s all about using beams of light. Your doctor uses the laser to send short, concentrated pulsating beams of light at irregular skin. This removes unwanted, damaged skin in a very precise manner one layer at a time.
Laser skin resurfacing’s targeted approach means there are fewer problems with hypopigmentation, or a lightening of skin for procedures such as laser acne scar removal.
The laser beam used in laser resurfacing will remove your outer layer of skin, called the epidermis. It simultaneously heats the underlying skin, called the dermis. This action works to stimulate growth of new collagen fibers. As the treated area heals, the new skin that forms is smoother and firmer.
What happens during laser skin resurfacing?
Cosmetic laser resurfacing is usually done on an outpatient basis and typically takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours.
Managing your discomfort:
Laser skin resurfacing can be painful. This is why your doctor may numb the skin with local anesthetics. You may also receive a sedative to help you relax. Afterwards, the doctor will provide painkillers to keep you comfortable. In preparation, your face will be thoroughly cleaned and you might be given eye protection.
CO2 laser resurfacing
For year doctors have used CO2 lasers to treat various skin conditions. A newer generation of CO2 lasers has the power to deliver very short pulsed light energy (called ultrapulsed) or continuous light beams. This type of laser precisely removes thin layers of skin with minimal damage to your surrounding tissue.
After the procedure
After laser resurfacing is completed, your doctor will apply specialized dressing to protect the treated tissues. Further dressing changes or specialized topical treatments may be needed to enhance healing.
Special considerations, risks and recovery
Skin that’s treated with laser resurfacing may react in different ways. But most of the time, it will feel like a mild sunburn. You’ll have some redness and swelling. You may also experience itching or stinging for a few days after the procedure.
Depending on the treatment, some people may have what looks like a severe sunburn. The skin will be raw, oozing and may even blister. A yellow liquid may ooze from treated areas to form a crust. Do not scratch or pick at crusts because this can cause scarring.
To achieve an optimum look, follow these steps as part of your recovery:
Clean the treated areas two to five times a day with saline or a diluted vinegar solution as directed by your plastic surgeon.
Apply protective skin care treatments that are recommended by your doctor to help your skin heal.
After healing, you’ll need to use sunscreen, particularly one that’s formulated for the sensitive, rejuvenated skin on your face. Every day. No exceptions! Your doctor will help you select the correct type of sunscreen to best protect your treated areas.
If directed to do so by your doctor, use a liberal amount of moisturizer each day on your new skin.
You can expect that the treated area will peel. After that, the new, rejuvenated skin will be pink, but it will gradually lighten over two to three months. It may take up to a year for the pinkness to go away. It is very important to protect your skin during this time of healing. Redness tends to last longer in blondes and redheads.
You may resume application of Retin-A and/or glycolic acid products around six weeks after laser resurfacing or as directed by your physician.
Complications of laser skin resurfacing can include:
Acne flares. Your doctor will recommend a treatment regimen.
Bacterial infection. Your doctor may recommend taking an antibiotic prior to the surgery and afterwards.
Cold sore reactivation. This may occur if you have laser resurfacing around your mouth. Be sure to tell you doctor about your history of cold sores (herpes). You can prevent the reactivation by taking an antiviral medication before and after the procedure.
Hyperpigmentation. It’s possible the treated area can become darker in tone. Your physician may recommend a bleaching solution. More rarely you may have hypopigmentation, a lightening of the skin tone.
Milia. These small white bumps may appear during healing. They can be removed by gentle cleansing with a washcloth.
Prolonged redness. For some people, the redness just takes longer to disappear.
Scarring. This is rare, but possible.
Swelling. If you are having laser skin resurfacing around your eyes, your doctor may prescribe oral steroids to manage this swelling.
Tips for an easier recovery:
Elevate your head with an extra pillow at night.
Use an ice pack during the first day or two to ease swelling and discomfort.
Stop smoking. Tobacco smoke will complicate the healing process.
Recovery times will vary depending on your treatment:
CO2 laser resurfacing: Generally up to two weeks.
Camouflage the pink or red skin
Once your treated areas have healed, makeup may used to tone down the color. Try a green-based makeup to neutralize red color. Be sure to opt for an oil-free makeup.
Laser skin resurfacing results
It’s possible that your skin may stay red or pink for up to several months after laser skin resurfacing. You may also be extra sensitive to sunlight for up to a year. Make efforts to minimize sun exposure and use that sunscreen liberally, every day.
Some people who have laser resurfacing may see an immediate difference in the treated skin. That will continue to improve for up to a year. While the effects of laser resurfacing can last for many years, the normal aging process means that wrinkles and expression lines will reoccur. You may repeat laser resurfacing as necessary.