The CO2 laser is a carbon dioxide laser that is used for skin resurfacing. Thin layers of skin are vaporized using a high-energy beam of laser light. This creates a “controlled injury” to the skin: as the skin heals, it produces collagen as a natural part of the healing process, which restores your skin’s elasticity.
CO2 laser resurfacing is designed to minimize wrinkles, reduce facial scarring, even out skin tone and increase dermal collagen. When performed by an experienced provider, CO2 laser resurfacing typically is more effective than other treatments like dermabrasion or microneedling.
Individuals with lines, wrinkles and superficial facial scars (for example, from acne scarring) are often good candidates. Ideally, candidates will have elastic, non-oily skin and do not have pre-existing health conditions. People with lighter skin tones tend to do better, as there is some risk of permanent skin discoloration with the procedure.
Your doctor will determine how much energy should be transmitted to your skin and will control the depth of penetration of the laser. Performing a successful CO2 laser resurfacing is a skill that depends on the experience of the surgeon to know how much controlled injury to give your skin. The goal is to use as much laser resurfacing as possible to produce a beautiful, even skin texture while avoiding any scarring and lightening of the skin.
You may choose to have it used on your entire face, or you may choose specific areas. In addition to resurfacing your skin, the laser has a mild tightening effect, which can be an added benefit in areas like the lower eyelid where the skin may become loose over time.
Side effects are relatively minor and usually go away in a short time, approximately ten days. The most likely side effects are swelling, redness and irritation. However, burning, scarring and a change in pigmentation do sometimes happen, so it’s important to review all the risks and evaluate your personal health history as you consider this procedure.
The number of treatments needed and the results will depend on the individual. If you are treating a specific problem, such as acne scars, it may require more treatments than if you are looking to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The doctors at U.S. Dermatology Partners can tell you what you can expect based on your health history, skin type and individual needs.
ActiveFX™ with UltraPulse® Encore™ is the latest advancement in fractional CO2 laser resurfacing for aging skin. The procedure is performed in a single day with minimal downtime, typically four to seven days. During the resurfacing procedure, a high-energy beam of laser light interacts with the skin’s surface, causing the upper layer to peel off and regenerate a layer of new, healthy skin. The laser also stimulates formation of new underlying collagen, which results in continued improvement in skin texture over time. Results can be seen immediately, and with proper skin protection from UV rays, can last for many years.
*Results may vary by individual