Everything You Need to Know About CO2 Laser Resurfacing
CO2 laser resurfacing is a professional skin treatment that uses laser beams to refresh your skin. Here’s what it can do for you:
1. Skin Cancer Treatment: It can remove skin cancer.
2. Cosmetic Improvements: CO2 laser fixes wrinkles, fine lines, and acne scars.
3. Skin Tone Correction: It helps with sunspots and age spots.
In some cases, doctors might use fractional lasers for fine lines and skin tone issues. Keep reading to understand CO2 laser resurfacing better.
How CO2 Laser Resurfacing Works
CO2 laser resurfacing utilizes laser beams to improve your skin’s appearance. These beams enter your skin, and the water in your skin cells absorbs them. This process vaporizes the outermost layer of your skin (epidermis) and heats up the middle layer (dermis), promoting the growth of new collagen fibers. As the treated area heals, it replaces old skin with newer, firmer, and smoother skin. The procedure can precisely target specific skin areas without affecting the surrounding skin.
Getting ready for the Procedure
Before undergoing CO2 laser resurfacing, your doctor will provide preparation instructions, which typically involve:
– Avoiding tanning or excessive sun exposure for at least four weeks prior to treatment.
– Refraining from medications that increase sun sensitivity, such as doxycycline, for three days before treatment.
– Taking antiviral medication if you have a history of herpes or shingles, both before and after treatment.
– Quitting smoking for two weeks before and after treatment, as smoking can impede healing.
On the day of Procedure
Here’s what you can expect on the day of your CO2 laser treatment:
– The procedure is typically performed as an outpatient treatment and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the specific issue and treatment area.
– Some discomfort is involved, depending on the depth and extent of the procedure, your pain tolerance, and the doctor’s skill. You’ll receive a local anesthetic and sedative to manage pain and anxiety, and for extensive treatments, general anesthesia may be used.
– Your skin will be thoroughly cleaned, and protective eyewear will be provided to shield your eyes from the laser.
– During the procedure, the doctor will move the laser wand slowly over the treated area.
– Afterward, you may apply an ice pack to reduce swelling and receive antibacterial ointment and dressing to protect the treated skin for around 24 hours.
– Multiple treatment sessions may be necessary based on your specific needs.
Benefits of CO2 Laser Resurfacing
CO2 laser resurfacing offers several benefits, including:
– Reducing fine lines and wrinkles, especially around the eyes, forehead, and mouth.
– Improving the appearance of sun-damaged skin, including wrinkles, sagging, rough texture, sunspots, and spider veins.
– Tightening loose skin around the eyelids (baggy eyes).
– Diminishing the appearance of acne scars by stimulating collagen production.
– Treating warts and sebaceous hyperplasia (small waxy bumps on the skin).
– Helping prevent or treat certain types of skin cancer by destroying affected tissue.
Safety and Side Effects
CO2 lasers, in use since the early 1960s, are generally safe and effective when performed by a reputable, board-certified doctor or plastic surgeon. Common side effects include:
– Temporary skin discoloration and swelling.
– Skin that feels raw, similar to a mild sunburn.
– Itching, dryness, and peeling.
– Increased sensitivity to the sun.
Deeper and more extensive treatments can result in skin that resembles severe sunburn, with possible oozing and blistering. Potential complications may include infection, acne flare-ups, cold sore reactivation (if you have a history), scarring, milia (small skin bumps), hyperpigmentation, and skin burns if the laser is not used correctly.
To minimize risks, it’s crucial to choose a well-trained cosmetic surgeon or doctor and adhere to their pre-care and post-care instructions.