CO2 Laser resurfacing involves the use of a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser to treat areas of damaged or wrinkled skin. It is effective for treating fine to medium sized lines, particularly around the mouth and eyes. However, it is also effective for treating facial lines and scars and areas of uneven pigmentation. Often the procedure is done in conjunction with other cosmetic procedures. The goal of laser resurfacing is to create a rejuvenated appearance to the facial skin or areas treated.
The Preoperative visit
Consultation for laser resurfacing consists of a thorough discussion of the patient's desires and concerns. An extensive evaluation of the patient's facial skin, including photographs, will be performed. The available treatment options and Dr. Soltanianís recommendations will be reviewed, including the limitations and risks of laser surgery.
CO2 resurfacing is performed as an outpatient procedure. The Procedure usually takes anywhere from a few minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on how large an area is involved. When the imperfections are especially deep, resurfacing in stages may be recommended.
During the procedure, the activated laser is carefully passed back and forth over the skin until a level is reached that will make the wrinkle or scar less visible. The laser delivers a uniform pulse of energy to the skin, resulting in destruction and partial vaporization of the superficial layers. The deeper layers then naturally give rise to regeneration of the superficial layers, resulting in a newer healthier complexion with fewer wrinkles and a smoother contour.
In general, the more aggressive the resurfacing procedure is, the more prolonged the recovery is likely to be. "Light" resurfacing procedures, such as superficial chemical peels or superficial laser resurfacing, offer shorter recovery times. However, these lighter procedures may need to be repeated multiple times to achieve results comparable to those achieved with more aggressive techniques.
You may experience some mild swelling and discomfort after CO2 laser resurfacing. However, this can be controlled with ice packs and medication. Depending on the area treated, the patient's skin may be covered with a bandage or ointments after surgery. The patient will be provided with thorough written pre and postoperative instructions. There will be some crust formation over the treated areas. After about a week or so, you will be provided with instructions on how to gently wash and care for your healing skin. Most patients are free of crusts by about 10 days post-operatively and able to go out in public and use make-up. The new skin will usually remain pink to red for 3-8 weeks following the procedure. In the months following treatment, it is vital to protect the treated area from the sun until all the color has returned to normal. Using sun protection regularly will help to maintain the results and reduce the chance of any new sun damage to your skin.
Most patients can expect a significant improvement in the quality of their skin and a fresher, smoother appearance. The new skin is not immune to the effects of aging. In the months and years following the laser treatment, the natural facial movements will eventually cause the "expression" lines to recur. As with other methods of skin rejuvenation, laser treatments can usually be repeated. However, by protecting yourself from the sun and following a skin-care regimen, you can help maintain your rejuvenated look.