What Is CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing?
CO2 laser skin resurfacing is a procedure involving the use of carbon dioxide (CO2) and a skin surface-removing laser (ablative laser) to remove scars, warts and deep wrinkles.
How does CO2 laser skin resurfacing work?
Ablative lasers, such as a CO2 laser, work by traumatizing the skin. It removes the thin outer layer of skin (epidermis) and heats the underlying skin (dermis). This stimulates the growth of new collagen fibers. As the epidermis heals and regrows, the treated skin appears clearer, smoother and tighter.
Non-ablative lasers, such as pulsed light (IPL) devices, do not traumatize the skin, instead they stimulate collagen growth and improve skin tone and texture. This is less invasive and requires less recovery time, but is less effective.
The surgeon chooses the laser type based on the condition being treated and the patient’s cosmetic goals.
What are the uses of CO2 laser skin resurfacing?
CO2 laser skin resurfacing can be used to treat:
Fine and deep wrinkles
Uneven skin tone or texture
Mild to moderate acne scars
Superficial to deep hyperpigmentation
How do I care for my skin after the CO2 laser skin resurfacing procedure?
Avoid picking at the skin or rubbing skin vigorously when cleaning it or in the shower.
Avoid hot showers.
Care for the skin after laser resurfacing is similar to managing a second-degree thermal burn.
Keeping the wound moist and dressing regularly promotes faster healing.
Two methods of wound dressing may be used:
Open type: Apply an occlusive ointment (like petroleum jelly) till skin heals. Avoid topical antibiotics.
Closed type: Apply semi-occlusive biosynthetic dressing until skin heals. It is painless and promotes faster healing. It is expensive, however, and requires frequent clinic visits and increases the chance of infection.
Antibiotics, painkillers and anti-itching medications can be administered if necessary.
How effective is CO2 laser skin resurfacing?
Results of CO2 laser resurfacing are good to excellent, depending on the indication for which the procedure was performed. Sun damage improves the most with laser resurfacing. Wrinkles may improve by 60% to 80% in some people, while scars improve to a lesser degree.
Most patients are satisfied with the aesthetic improvement, and the surgery results in minimal recovery time and a low incidence of complications.