No doubt about it – smooth, flawless skin is sexy, yet few of us are blessed with flawless complexions even in our youth. Once we start to age, the imperfections that once seemed so tiny start to take on greater significance as factors like stress, sun damage, genetics and even good old gravity start to take their toll. Before we know it, wrinkles, creases, and uneven tone and texture can make us look haggard and worn out, and suddenly, the face looking back at us from the mirror looks, well, old.
Fortunately, advances in cosmetic treatments mean men and women can look and feel their best without the need for invasive facelift surgery. What’s the secret? Laser energy delivered in precise “doses” to gently smooth out wrinkles and lines, even out skin tone and texture, and help skin look and feel firmer and more resilient. Today, CO2 Fractional lasers are the most popular type of laser used to resurface the skin, and recent developments in the way laser energy is delivered to the skin have resulted in an unprecedented level of control that can help each patient achieve truly customised results.
CO2 laser resurfacing is one of the most popular nonsurgical cosmetic treatments performed in the U.S., with well over a half million men and women opting to have their skin resurfaced in 2015.
Using advanced laser technology, a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser for skin resurfacing precisely removes outer layers of damaged skin to reveal the underlying skin which is softer, smoother, and younger looking. CO2 and erbium laser technologies are the two most commonly used laser skin resurfacing treatment options. The CO2 laser is used in the treatment of deeper facial lines and wrinkles.
How Does It Work?
It needs to be operated by a qualified cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist. Inside the skin, the energy is absorbed by chromophores, one of the elements of skin responsible for its color. The heat damages and destroys very thin layers of damaged skin, removing them and revealing smoother skin underneath. At the same time, the laser energy warms the deeper layers of skin, stimulating the development of collagen fibres, which play an essential role in helping skin look and feel smoother, firmer and more resilient.
The latest technological advancement in the field of laser resurfacing is the use of light beams that are either pulsed or scattered at a very high rate. This minimizes heat damage that the skin might otherwise be exposed to. It also allows a more powerful CO2 laser to be utilized for deeper tissue removal and for more effective removal of pronounced wrinkles and creases. This technology allows the laser skin resurfacing treatment to provide some of the most dramatic, age-defying results possible.
The procedure can be performed on specific areas – such as around the mouth or eyes – or over the surface of the entire face and chest. During a CO2 laser skin resurfacing treatment, a local anesthetic (injection at the treatment site) is used to relieve potential discomfort. If the entire face is being treated, intravenous or general anesthesia may be used.
Who should do the treatment: People with deep facial lines and wrinkling. A candidate may also have facial scars or uneven pigmentation they wish to correct. Benefits include also treatment for uneven pigmentation, photodamage, precancerous spots, and a host of other skin imperfections and benign lesions.
You might want to consider CO2 laser resurfacing if you would like to target any of the following:
- Fine lines
- Sun damage
- Dark spots
- Skin texture irregularities
- Acne scars
- Facial scars
Generally speaking, men and women with lighter skin tones and minimal sun exposures will see the best results and fastest healing, but people with darker skin tones can also benefit.
Dark skin needs a more gentle approach with this treatment. Pigmented skin tends to heal with hyper-pigmentation and that does occur with this procedure upwards of 30% of the time. It can take many months of topical treatments and sometimes additional laser treatments to correct this. If this treatment is to be undertaken on dark skin, it will need to be part of a series of gentler treatments and not a single treatment.
This is also not a treatment for any woman who is pregnant or anyone who has been treated with isotretinoin (or Accutane) within 6 months. In addition, if there are any conditions resulting in delayed or abnormal healing or a history of cold sores or herpes virus it is important to tell your physician at the pre-treatment stage to prevent complications.
CO2 laser skin resurfacing may be right for you if you would like to get great results from only one treatment. CO2RE is the best treatment if you wish to get the most results with one treatment. If you have the ability to take some time to heal (7-14 days), having this one treatment is like having multiple other non-invasive treatments at once. It is also the best single treatment for advanced skin damage and wrinkling.
Safety: CO2 laser skin resurfacing treatment is perfectly safe. With the predictability of the CO2 laser, skin can be precisely ablated layer by layer to provide incredibly safe results with minimal side-effects.
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Results that are expected are a very significant and noticeable reduction in the components of sun damaged skin such as “age-spots” (also called sun freckles, liver spots, and lentigines), fine lines, wrinkles, scarring, uneven coloration, skin laxity, textural irregularities, dull tone, and a thinned collagen layer. The skin will continue to improve for a period of 6 months following the procedure provided proper skincare is used and sun exposure is minimized. Sometimes the results are not significant until the 6th and even the 9th month, depending on the person’s age, their aftercare routine and their history of smoking.
Along with making your skin look more wrinkle-free and youthful, this effective treatment offers these additional benefits:
- Stimulates your body’s natural process of collagen renewal in your skin.
- Offers accelerated healing because of the targeted precision treatment.
- Gives individualized results because the doctor can control the intensity of the treatment.
- Provides adjustable treatments to meet your specific needs and desired recovery downtime.
- Ensures safe and effective treatments for almost all skin types.
Can this be combined with other treatments?
CO2Laser can be combined with other treatments although it is not possible to do other treatments in the same area(s) on the same day. Many choose to have Wrinkle Relaxers such as BOTOX Cosmetic, Dysport or Xeomin to reduce unwanted wrinkles caused by muscle contraction in addition to having Dermal Fillers such as Restylane, Restylane Lyft, Juvederm and Belotero to plump and fill areas where volume has been lost such as the cheeks, nasolabial folds, lower eyelids and lips. We may recommend botulinum toxin 2 weeks prior to the treatment as studies have shown that this may enhance the effect on wrinkles caused by movement, but we typically wait one month before or after doing fillers.
Duration: Treating just parts of the face takes about 30 to 45 minutes. A full-face treatment takes up to two hours. Healing typically takes 10 to 21 days. Once the skin heals, you can wear oil-free makeup to minimize redness, which usually fades in two to three months. You will also probably notice that your skin is lighter for a while after surgery. It is particularly important that you use a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen, which screens ultraviolet B and ultraviolet A rays, to protect your skin during that time.