Fractional CO2 laser treats a broad range of skin conditions and cosmetic concerns. It can help with everything from fine lines and wrinkles to acne scars and blemishes, although not every patient is a good candidate. If you are considering fractional CO2 laser treatment, we will provide a brief overview of what to expect below to help you decide whether the procedure is right for you.
What Is Fractional CO2 Laser Treatment?
Fractional CO2 laser treatment is a type of fractional laser resurfacing. Fractional resurfacing leaves microscopic holes deep beneath the skin’s surface, heating the underlying skin to stimulate collagen production. Small dots of skin are left untreated in-between, which speeds up recovery and reduces the risk of complications. Unlike other types of lasers, CO2 is an ablative therapy, meaning it vaporizes tiny columns of skin from the surface to a specific depth pre-determined by laser settings.
When new skin forms, it is healthier and tighter.
Who Is A Good Candidate For Fractional CO2 Laser Treatment?
Fractional CO2 laser therapy is most frequently used to reduce signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, and crow’s feet. It can also treat a wide variety of conditions, including:
- Liver spots
- Age spots
- Irregular skin texture
While many patients see substantial improvement from fractional CO2 laser treatment, not everyone’s skin reacts well to treatment. A professional consultation with an experienced practitioner can help you determine whether fractional CO2 laser therapy would benefit you.
You may not be a good candidate for fractional CO2 laser therapy if you:
- Are pregnant or intend to become pregnant soon
- Have been treated with isotretinoin (Accutane) within the last six months
- Have a history of healing with increased pigmentation
What Happens During Treatment?
As fractional CO2 laser resurfacing treats a range of conditions, the process varies from individual to individual. Your practitioner will let you know what to expect from the procedure ahead of time.
Some patients may need a series of treatments done before undergoing fractional CO2 laser resurfacing to increase the likelihood of optimal results.
Before administering treatment, your practitioner will apply a topical anesthetic to ensure the procedure is pain-free. When treating large areas of skin, your practitioner may recommend sedatives or painkillers.
Your practitioner cleans the skin and then passes the CO2 laser device over the treatment area. The process typically takes around 30 minutes. Once treatment is complete, your practitioner will apply a barrier ointment to encourage healing and prevent infection.
Most patients see desired results after a single treatment, but severe issues may require several sessions.
How Long Is Recovery?
Every patient is different, and you will receive specific postoperative instructions based on your needs, which you should always follow closely. Your practitioner will provide you with a vinegar-based facial cleanser, which you should use two to five times a day.
The majority of patients need three to ten days of downtime after treatment.
You will look like you have a bad sunburn and your skin may feel warm for the first few days following treatment. Swelling may be significant, especially around the eyes. Skin will begin to flake off continually for up to 10 days. Most patients can apply makeup after 7 to 10 days.
While you can engage in some daily activities during treatment, you need to take extra precautions to avoid germs. You should avoid crowded places like bars, gyms, and restaurants. If you have pets, avoid close contact with them during recovery and do not allow them to sleep in your bed. Pets tend to carry bacteria that can increase your risk of infection.
Your skin will be sun-sensitive for up to a year, so be vigilant about wearing sunscreen every time you go out, including overcast days.
Are There Risks Associated With Fractional CO2 Laser Treatment?
Fractional CO2 laser treatment is very safe overall, but every medical procedure has risks. Your practitioner will take precautions to help you avoid complications, including going over your medical history before treatment. Those at a heightened risk for infection may be prescribed preventive antibiotics before treatment.
Side effects of fractional CO2 laser treatment include:
Most complications resolve independently, and others can be addressed with follow-up treatment.
The Bottom Line
Fractional CO2 laser treatment can yield dramatic results and improve issues like wrinkles, fine lines, acne scars, and more. These changes to your skin can result in a marked improvement in self-esteem and self-image. The best way to determine whether you are a good candidate for fractional CO2 laser treatment is to book a consultation with a professional.
Ready to get started? BLUSH’s practitioners have extensive experience with fractional CO2 laser treatment. Book a consultation today to discuss your options.