CO2 Laser Treatment
- The Effect
- The Procedure
- Best Candidates
- Side Effects
- Recovery Time
- What is the CO2 Laser?
- How does the laser work?
- What are my other options besides the CO2 Laser Treatment?
- What does the CO2 Laser treat?
- Who are good candidates for CO2 Laser Treatment?
- What are the possible complications of this procedure?
- Can areas, such as the neck or chest, undergo a resurfacing procedure?
- What should be expected before, during, after the laser resurfacing procedure?
- How long does the treatment last?
The CO2 laser treatment, also called “laser peel,” gets rid of areas of damaged skin layer by layer. This procedure is commonly utilized in order to reduce fine lines found around the eyes and mouth. It is also beneficial in the treatment of facial scars or areas of the skin with uneven pigmentation. Most of the time, this procedure is used in combination with other cosmetic procedures like a Facelift or an Eyelid Surgery.
With the use of a carbon dioxide laser device, this procedure will be able to smoothen the face, as well as the fine wrinkles by treating layers of damaged skin. CO2 laser treatment also softens lines that surround the eyes and the mouth. It can also diminish facial scars and areas that are unevenly pigmented.
This procedure may take a few minutes to an hour and may entail more than one session. CO2 laser treatment is usually an outpatient procedure unless it is combined with other surgical procedures that may necessitate hospitalization. General anesthesia, local anesthesia, or a numbing spray may be used in this treatment.
The CO2 laser actually penetrates into the dermis, heating it and shrinking the skin area by up to 30 percent. The CO2 laser is more precise than either dermabrasion or other chemical peels since its computerized scanner allows fast delivery of exact amounts of energy to the skin with each laser pulse.
Almost anyone can be a candidate for the CO2 Laser Treatment. Patients who have a light complexion and very dark complexion are likely to heal the fastest. Patients with olive skin are most likely to have a longer period of redness or erythema but are still considered excellent candidates for this procedure. Some medical conditions may prevent a patient from undergoing a resurfacing operation. Keloid formation or other autoimmune diseases are some of the medical conditions which must be handled with extreme caution.
Patients who have minimal to moderate facial wrinkles, blemishes or blotchiness and dark under eye circles are the best candidates for this procedure.
Some of the side effects of CO2 laser treatment are temporary swelling, discomfort, acute sensitivity to sun exposure, increased sensitivity to use of makeup and pinkness or redness (erythema) in the skin which may last for up to 6 months.
The patient may be able to go back to work in about two weeks and resume strenuous activities in 4 to 6 weeks. In about three months, the redness or erythema fades. Return of pigmentation and sun exposure occurs in 6 to 12 months.
What is the CO2 Laser?
A laser is basically a machine that takes electrical and electromagnetic energy and converts it to a beam of energy. usually, it is defined by the type of material or materials that are used to produce its energy. There are quite a lot of lasers that are used for a specific purpose such as in ophthalmology.
How does the laser work?
Before, the use of laser causes heat buildup, which is a problem since it leads to scarring of the tissue instead of a simple tightening of the skin. Now, the new technology of CO2 Laser can be used for resurfacing. The laser is now able to transport a pulse of energy so fast that heat does not build up in the tissues. Through this technology, top layers of the skin are removed and tightened without having any buildup of heat, preventing unwanted scarring.
What are my other options besides the CO2 Laser Treatment?
The customary approach for facial wrinkles is to cover them up with the use of cosmetics and creams to achieve a smoother appearance. However, more and more people are now going for a more permanent smoothing effect in order to achieve that natural look. Chemical peels or acid peels, dermabrasions or scraping of the superficial skin are two similar procedures that both remove the top layers of the skin. On the other hand, these two procedures are not precisely controllable as the laser and unlike with the CO2 Laser, the skin does not appear as tightened.
Probably the most common procedure in the treatment of facial wrinkles, besides the CO2 laser, is the traditional Facelift or Rhytidectomy. The advantage of this procedure is that it can remove large amounts of excess skin from the face. However, these also have some disadvantages. usually, an incision from a facelift is obviously seen around the ears and along the side of the face. There is also the risk of cutting one of the facial nerves during the surgical procedure. On the other hand, the main advantage of the laser treatment to Facelift surgery is the “refreshed” appearance of the laser patient versus the “surgical” appearance of the Facelift patient.
What does the CO2 Laser treat?
The CO2 Laser Treatment is used for patients who are suffering from wrinkles of the face or other imperfections from scarring due to acne or a previous trauma. In this case, the CO2 laser treatment takes away the most superficial layer of the skin and tightens the deep or underlying collagen layers. Through this process, tightening takes place, as well as the lessening of wrinkles and scars.
Who are good candidates for CO2 Laser Treatment?
Almost anyone can be a candidate for the CO2 Laser Treatment. Patients who have light complexion and very dark complexion are likely to heal the fastest. Patients with olive skin are most likely to have a longer period of redness or erythema but are still considered excellent candidates for this procedure. Some medical conditions may prevent a patient from undergoing a resurfacing operation. Keloid formation or other autoimmune diseases are some of the medical conditions which must be handled with extreme caution.
What are the possible complications of this procedure?
Like any other procedure, there is always the possibility of risks and complications. However, with the CO2 Laser Treatment, the risks are usually low. The most common complications of this treatment are infection, activation of herpetic lesions, and scar formation. However, these complications may be prevented by the administration of antibiotics and protective ointments in order to avoid infection; antiviral medication is prescribed in order to prevent cold sore formation; and practicing extreme caution in doing the surgical technique, as well as having realistic expectations in order to prevent scarring.
Can areas, such as the neck or chest, undergo a resurfacing procedure?
The neck and the chest area, unlike facial skin, cannot undergo resurfacing as there are not enough essential skin elements in those areas for proper regeneration to take place. These areas do not have the capability to heal properly and will likely result in scar formation if they are lasered with the use of the current resurfacing technology.
What should be expected before, during, after the laser resurfacing procedure?
After having your initial consultation with your physician, several documents will be given to you, which include the consent forms and the pre- and post-operative expectation forms. Make sure that you familiarize yourself with these documents. Once you have made a decision to undergo a laser procedure, it is time to finalize your preoperative preparations. Consultation with our aesthetician should also be done at this time in order to receive the necessary prescriptions.
A few days postop, some weeping of the skin can be seen while it is rebuilding. This is because new collagen is now being formed by the dermal layer. Some minimal to moderate swelling may also be experienced. At this time, it is necessary that application of dressings and/or ointments to cover the treated areas be done in order to hasten the process of healing. As the skin is healing, fresh new skin will emerge having a pinkish appearance to it which will then fade in several months. This may be concealed by the use of makeup which can be applied for 6 to 10 days depending on how the skin responds to the procedure.
All laser resurfacing procedures are carried out under local anesthesia and on an outpatient basis.
How long does the treatment last?
Laser Skin Resurfacing is relatively a new procedure with only five years of clinical follow-up. Although this is a safe procedure when carried out by professionals, the long-term results of this treatment are yet unknown. Most of the patients who underwent this procedure attest that they look like they did 10 years before the procedure, so an appropriate estimate of its long-term effects should be 10 years depending on how you take care and protect your new skin.