Who is the ideal candidate for the fractional CO2 laser?
The ideal patient is light skinned with acne scars, or has scars from trauma or wrinkles from age and sun exposure. Former smokers are also good candidates for treatment. Fractional CO2 laser in darker skin is generally not recommended since the laser will heat the skin, causing it to darken. Lighter skinned people may also have some temporary darkening of the treated areas of skin, but this will fade over time.
How does the procedure work?
The fractional CO2 laser works by drilling tiny pin sized holes to a specific depth in the skin surface. These "holes" heat the deeper portion of the skin, causing the collagen to "remodel," thus smoothing wrinkles and other defects.
Is the procedure painful?
Prior to the procedure, a topical anesthetic is applied the skin, so any discomfort during treatment is minimal. Immediately following the procedure, you will be pink to red, and may feel swollen and tender for a few hours. This can be relieved with ice packs, topical or oral steroids and anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen.
Is the treatment safe for all skin types?
People who are active outdoors should have the CO2 laser treatment in the late fall and winter to avoid excessive darkening. Tanning bed users, tattooed skin, pregnant women and anyone who has recently taken Accutane should not be treated.
What types of results can patients expect, and how long will these last?
Most people take about two weeks for the redness to go away. If the laser darkened the skin, this may take 8 to 12 weeks to fully fade. Wrinkle reduction and scar improvement may take 6 to 12 months. The longevity of most cosmetic procedures depends upon your lifestyle and genetics. If you do not wear sunscreen, expect less durability from your cosmetic results. If your parents aged gracefully, you will likely do the same.
North Atlanta Dermatology
3850 Pleasant Hill Road
Duluth, Georgia 30096
Dr. Damian Dhar is board-certified by the American Board of Dermatology. He is a member of a number of professional societies including the American Academy of Dermatology, Atlanta Dermatological Association, Medical Association of Atlanta and others.