What is Fractional CO2 laser?
Laser resurfacing is an effective way of reversing the damaging effects of sun exposure, aging and lifestyle habits (such as smoking) on the quality, color and texture of your skin. Resurfacing lasers are either ablative or non-ablative. Ablative lasers use rapid pulses of high-intensity light to remove the damaged upper layers of your skin, thereby smoothing and tightening the skin, removing wrinkles, and correcting pigmentation problems. Non-ablative lasers are non-wounding and less invasive; they act by stimulating collagen growth and tightening the underlying skin.
Who is it for?
If your skin is sun-damaged with wrinkling around your eyes and mouth as well as skin laxity in your lower eyelid area
If you have experienced irregular changes in your skin color, such as blotchiness or brown spots
If you have scars that have made the surface of your skin uneven
If you have certain precancerous skin growths
How do I prepare for laser skin resurfacing procedure?
In advance of your procedure, your surgeon will ask you to:
Stop smoking before undergoing surgery to promote better healing
Avoid taking aspirin, certain anti-inflammatory drugs, and some herbal medications can cause increased bleeding
Avoid unprotected sun exposure. Too much sun up to two months before the procedure can cause permanent irregular pigmentation in the treated areas. Discuss sun protection and acceptable sun exposure with your doctor.
Discontinue topical skin care products that might increase the risk of complications from laser
Regardless of the type of surgery to be performed, hydration is very important before and after surgery for safe recovery
What to expect during the procedure
Most laser skin resurfacing procedures take an hour to complete but may take longer, depending on the extent of skin damage and wrinkling to be treated.
Medications will be administered for your comfort during the procedure.
Depending on the laser treatment chosen and the area treated, local anesthesia may be adequate; however, for larger areas, sedation or general anesthesia may be recommended.
Your surgeon will follow the treatment plan discussed with you.
After your procedure is completed, you will be taken into a recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored.
You will be permitted to go home after a short observation period unless you and your surgeon have made other plans for your immediate post-treatment recovery.
What to expect after the procedure
Your resurfaced skin may be covered with petroleum jelly or other protective ointment, and in some cases, dressings, tape, or a bandage may be applied.
When the anesthesia wears off, you may have some pain. If the pain is extreme or long-lasting, contact your physician. You will also have some redness and swelling after the surgery. Contact your surgeon to find out if your pain, redness, and swelling are normal or a sign of a problem.
Recovery time frame after laser skin resurfacing
Your recovery will depend on the technique and depth of treatment. A more superficial treatment will require less healing time than a deeper treatment. You will be advised about cleansing your skin and if you should apply any ointments. For men who have undergone resurfacing procedures, shaving must be delayed for a while. Also waxing or depilatory use must be delayed for a while.
It is vitally important that you follow all patient care instructions provided by your surgeon. Your surgeon will also provide detailed instructions about the normal symptoms you will experience and any potential signs of complications. It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals.
The first 2 weeks
Depending on the post-treatment regimen selected by your surgeon, a scab may or may not form over the treated area
Your new skin will begin to form
The initial redness may have subsided, but your skin may still be pink
Week 2 to 8
Your skin may still be pink
Your surgeon will advise if camouflage makeup can be used
Depending on the procedure and your surgeon’s advice, it will be safe to expose the treated area to direct sunlight
Risks of Fractional CO2 laser
Fortunately, significant complications from laser skin resurfacing are infrequent. Your specific risks for laser skin resurfacing will be discussed during your consultation. Some of the potential complications from this procedure are:
Adverse reaction to anesthesia
Hematoma or seroma (an accumulation of blood or fluid under the skin that may require removal)
Infection and bleeding
Changes in sensation
Damage to underlying structures
Unsatisfactory results that may necessitate additional procedures