CO2 Laser Treatment

The CO2 fractional resurfacing laser is a carbon dioxide laser that precisely removes the deep outer layers of damaged skin and stimulates the regeneration of healthy skin underneath. The CO2 treats fine to moderately deep wrinkles, photo damage, scarring, skin tone, texture, and laxity.

The exact time depends on the area that is being treated; however, typically, it takes two hours or less to complete. This timeframe includes an additional 30 minutes for topical numbing to be applied prior to treatment.

The CO2 laser does cause some discomfort, but we ensure that our patients are comfortable by applying topical anesthetics. The sensation that is often felt is similar to a “pins and needles” sensation.

After your skin heals, which may take up to 3 weeks, patients will experience a period of their skin appearing slightly pink. During this time, you will see improvements in skin texture and tone. Full results can be seen 1-2 months after the initial treatment.

Improvements from a CO2 laser treatment can be seen for many years after treatment. Results can be prolonged with diligent use of SPF+, avoided sun exposure, and correct at-home skincare maintenance.

CO2 can be treated on specialized areas, such as the eyes and around the mouth; however, the most popular areas to treat with the CO2 laser are the full face and neck.

Yes, there is downtime associated with a CO2 laser treatment. Plan for 7–10 days of healing before you can go out in public. Your skin will scab and peel 2–7 days after treatment and will be pink for 2–3 weeks. The exact healing time varies from person to person.

Most patients need 3–4 CO2 treatments to see optimal results. However, some patients with deeper wrinkles or scarring may need more sessions of treatments to see results.

A CO2 laser treatment may not be safe for those with certain health problems. Those with a history of difficulty healing or scarring are not candidates, as well as those with bleeding disorders. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding are not a candidate for the CO2 laser.

Common side effects of CO2 laser resurfacing include redness, swelling, flaking of the skin, itching, and sun sensitivity. These side effects are more common with deep resurfacing than superficial ones and often subside in 3–4 days.

However, a few patients may experience the following side effects if the laser is not used correctly. These side effects include:

  • Infection
  • Acne flare
  • Scarring
  • Milia
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Skin burns and injuries

If you are planning to take CO2 laser treatment, then you should:

  • avoiding tanning or heavy sun exposure for 4 weeks before treatment
  • not using medications that cause sun sensitivity, such as doxycycline, isotretinoin, and certain topical medications that contain glycolic acid, retinols, salicylic acid, etc., for 3 days before treatment
  • Quitting smoking for 2 weeks before and after treatment since smoking can interfere with healing.

After CO2 laser treatment, it usually takes about 1 to 2 weeks for your skin to heal. Your skin will be sensitive during this time. So liberal use of sunscreen, moisturizer, and strict sun protection is a must.

  • Don’t use saunas, swimming pools
  • Baths, or hot tubs
  • Avoid shaving over treated areas for the next week.
  • Avoid applying glycolic acid, retinols, salicylic acid, and similar medications for 1-week post-procedure.
  • Use mild cleansers to wash your face and avoid touching the treated area again and again.