The fractional CO2 laser offers many great benefits: it utilizes the gold standard CO2 laser for skin resurfacing and treats the effects of sun damage, facial skin aging, brown spots, skin discoloration and acne scarring. It can provide skin tightening, even out skin tone and color, remove fine lines and wrinkles, and reduce the size of large pores. One of the best things about the fractional CO2 laser: the downtime following the procedure is a fraction of that of the traditional CO2 laser.
Why is this? The traditional CO2 laser resurfaces 100 percent of the skin to which it's applied, requires a 2-week healing time, and can cause up to three months of significant redness. With modern computer technology, fractional laser procedures treat only a fraction of the skin. Because bridges of healthy and intact skin remain in between the treated areas, the downtime is significantly less. The peeling portion of recovery is usually complete in around five days.
What can fractional CO2 laser patients expect as far as recovery? Patients can go home immediately after the procedure, and they receive specific instructions about how to take care of their skin. Many patients claim that they incur a sunburn-type feeling for about two hours after the procedure is completed. However, once this goes away, there is generally no pain.
Over the three to five days following the procedure, the skin will gently peel by flaking off. During this time, patients keep the skin moist with a Vaseline type ointment. This allows for the best possible healing. After the skin has peeled, patients can use makeup to cover any redness. Your physician will give you clearance to do this when the time is right.
Patients should avoid strenuous exercise, and bending, stooping, lifting heavy objects, or straining for at leas three days after procedure. They should sleep with their face elevated above their heart for the first day after the procedure.
Immediately after the initial five-day healing phase is complete, patients see a gradual improvement in the skin. This is because the laser stimulates collagen production in the deep skin layer; helping to fill in the fine lines of the face. The collagen buildup can take up to six months to complete.
Sun exposure should be avoided and sun protection worn at all times after laser skin resurfacing. Discuss this with you doctor as the amount of time will vary based upon how you heal and the type of treatment you had.
Only one treatment is necessary for most patients, and the final results are permanent.
Because each patient desires different results and everyone has different skin types, it's very important to work with a physician who is highly experienced in fractional CO2 laser procedures. It's essential that the physician be experienced with using very precise movements when sequentially applying the laser to the skin of the face, neck, and/or chest. Always listen to your physicians instructions after the laser as it will vary based upon the type of laser, type of treatment, your healing, your skin, and the doctor's preference.