CO2 Laser Resurfacing
As we grow older, blemishes, wrinkles, and scars naturally appear on our skin. While nothing can stop people from aging, laser skin resurfacing is one available treatment that can diminish your blemishes and leave your face rejuvenated and younger-looking. CO2 laser resurfacing is an effective, non-surgical procedure that reduces the visibility of deep wrinkles and acne scars and can do away with fine lines altogether. CO2 lasers:
- Remove brown spots
- Even skin color, tone, and texture
- Soften crow’s feet
- Improve smile and frown lines
- Diminish and flatten scars
- Tighten and smooth skin
How Does a CO2 Laser Work?
Like all lasers, a CO2 laser delivers a light beam that is intense and highly focused. However, the CO2 laser is specially designed to remove skin with quick bursts of extremely high-energy light. The CO2 laser does not merely peel away skin—it vaporizes it. It also tightens and refreshes skin by stimulating collagen growth, improving wrinkles as collagen fills and plumps the space beneath the skin.
These lasers give doctors a high amount of control during the procedure, allowing them to remove skin without risking serious scarring or other complications. Currently the CO2 laser is the most effective laser skin treatment, though it does require the longest recovery time.
During the Procedure
CO2 laser resurfacing is an outpatient procedure that takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours, depending on how much of your face is being resurfaced. Because the laser essentially burns away unwanted skin, you will receive local anesthesia as well as an oral or intravenous sedative.
After the Procedure
Once the treatment is finished, your skin will be sore and tender. Like regular burns, the places that have been resurfaced will ooze and hurt when uncovered, so your doctor will apply a dressing that should remain on your face for 24 hours after the procedure. It is important to clean your face with a saline or diluted vinegar solution several times a day and to treat burns with an ointment to prevent scabs and scarring. Dr. Hamrah will discuss the best ways to care for your skin and ensure the quickest recovery time during your consultation.
The treated spots on your face will heal within 10 to 21 days, but you will experience swelling for up to three weeks and redness for as long as six months. Do not be alarmed. This is expected and part of the healing process. You can use oil-free make up to hide the redness and carry on with your day-to-day routine. After a period of 1 to 4 months, you will be able to see the results—smoother, younger skin with diminished scars and wrinkles. You may need more than one treatment, depending on the severity of your scars or wrinkles.
Side Effects and Other Concerns
Some common side effects of CO2 laser resurfacing include:
- Crusting of the treated areas
- Red or brown discoloration
Treating your skin prior to treatment with Retin-A or bleaching agents can reduce the risk of discoloration and speed your healing time. After your procedure, your face will be very sensitive to sunlight, so always make sure to wear a 15 SPF or higher broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your new skin.
Keep in mind that laser resurfacing is not a substitute for a facelift, and it cannot get rid of excessive loose skin. However, if you are self conscious about wrinkles, blemishes or scars, CO2 laser resurfacing is a good treatment for improving the look and feel of your skin and leaving it healthy and rejuvenated.
If you are located in Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., or surrounding areas and are considering CO2 laser resurfacing, please contact Northern Virginia facial cosmetic surgeon Dr. Hamrah to schedule a personal consultation today.