CO2 Laser Resurfacing
For many years, carbon dioxide or CO2 laser skin resurfacing has been considered the gold standard in skin resurfacing—but it came at a high price in terms of discomfort and downtime. Traditional CO2 laser skin resurfacing is performed under sedation and completely removes the top layer of the skin. The result of traditional CO2 laser skin treatments is open, draining wounds and at least one month of recovery time. Additionally, the traditional CO2 laser treatments come with a risk of hypo-pigmentation — which is, removing color out of the skin. The traditional CO2 laser uses light to generate heat and surgically remove off the top layers of the skin and stimulate new collagen growth.
The latest technology utilizes ablative fractional CO2 lasers that treat only a selected facial area. By firing micro ablative columns of laser energy at the skin, rather than treating the entire surface of the skin, the fractional laser leaves columns of healthy, untouched tissue between the areas that are ablated — resulting in less discomfort, downtime and risks. Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing has nearly all of the benefits of the traditional CO2 laser, but dramatically less downtime, and much lower risks of complications. This new technology was rated the #1 anti-aging breakthrough by WebMD.
Fractional CO2 Laser Treatments
Fractional Ablative CO2 Lasers
Ablative or skin resurfacing lasers briefly direct an intense burst of laser energy onto the surface of the skin. This energy heats water within the surface layers of the skin, causing both the water and the tissue of the skin to turn to vapor. Every time the laser passes over the skin, some of the outermost layers of the skin are removed in a precise and controlled way to the appropriate depth.
The skin then heals over a period of time, as new layers of collagen are produced. The skin can literally resurface itself, causing an improvement in the appearance of sun damaged or acne scarred skin. After the treatment, the skin will look much healthier than it did previously.
This intensive treatment can significantly reduce the appearance of lines, wrinkles, and pigment (or skin color) changes on the face, neck, and other parts of the body. They can be used in sensitive areas, such as lines around the lips, eyes and even eyelids, or over the whole of the face. Acne and other types of scars and certain stretch marks can also be improved.
Fractional Non-Ablative CO2 Lasers
Non-ablative lasers have been a more recent introduction in types of aesthetic equipment for skin rejuvenation. These lasers have lower energy levels than ablative lasers (which resurface or remove the outer layer of skin completely) and try to cause damage within the dermal layer of the skin without removal of the outer epidermal layers. That is to say that the laser treats the layers of skin under the surface without damaging the surface too much.
It is thought that the laser’s heat in the dermal layers causes collagen to be produced which helps reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. However, the results from this type of procedure are less obvious than those which can be achieved with ablative laser skin resurfacing in Gainesville, FL during which the surface of the skin is removed.
Studies have shown that one single pass treatment with a fractional ablative CO2 laser provided 50% more collagen stimulation, superior rhytids and histological results as compared to five, multi-pass fractional non-ablative laser treatments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Collagen is the main protein of connective tissue that keeps skin plump and youthful. Unfortunately, collagen is destroyed by aging, sun exposure and pollution, resulting in unattractive lines and wrinkles. A fractional CO2 laser treatment jump-starts collagen production for younger-looking, healthier skin.
Most patients need only one or two treatments. People with extreme acne scarring may need two or three treatments. Touch-up treatments can be done very quickly and cost-effectively.
We utilize the Fitzpatrick Skin-Type Chart to determine skin type. For this treatment, we can safely treat skin types 1—3. Fractional lasers cannot be used on skin types 4 through 6 because they remove melanocytes, they are the cells in your skin that provide your pigment — thus risking a change in skin pigmentation.
Patients experiencing the following symptoms may benefit from fractional laser treatments:
- Blotchiness or uneven pigmentation
- Vertical lines above the lips, also called smoker’s lines
- Acne scars
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Sun damaged skin
- Age spots
Our Gainesville plastic surgery office safely treats the following areas:
- Décolletage (chest)
Many patients compare the actual treatment to having a rubber band popped along the skin, however, discomfort will vary depending on treatment areas and the pain tolerance of the patient. After treatment, the treated areas may be swollen, raw, itchy and feel similar to a sunburn.
Procedures are done in the office under local anesthesia (numbing cream applied to area to be treated) with the patient awake.
Patients can expect between 10 and 14 days of downtime and redness for 1 or 2 months.
Yes. You can have a micropeel that removes the outer surface of the skin for a refreshed glow—or a very intense treatment that gets rid of five to seven years’ worth of sun damage and wrinkles.
- Patients with a dark suntan
- Pregnant women
- Breastfeeding women
- Patients undergoing Accutane® (isotretinoin) treatments for acne
- Fitzpatrick skin type 4—6
We ask patients to come in an hour before the procedure to allow time to cleanse the skin and apply an anesthetic cream to numb the tissue in the area to be treated. Most patients get their whole face treated.The actual time for the procedure depends on the area(s) being treated:
- Face: 60 minutes
- Upper lip: 15 minutes
- Eyes: 10 minutes
- Chest and neck: 60 minutes
- Hands: 20 minutes
Fractional CO2 laser treatment will last five to seven years. You can help maintain the improvement in your skin by:
- Keeping your skin hydrated
- Using sunscreen
- Living a healthy lifestyle
After a fractional CO2 laser treatment, you should refrain from exercise for 10 days.
To help prevent a cold sore outbreak, we give patients the antiviral drug Zovirax (acyclovir) for several days before and after a fractional laser treatment. Nearly 80 percent of Americans have the cold sore virus — many just don’t know it until they get a wound or a treatment around their lips.