NY Medical Skin Solutions Facial Plastics and Dermatology has a variety of state-of-the-art anti-aging procedures to rejuvenate your appearance. Laser skin resurfacing with the Fractional Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Laser is one of the most effective procedures to improve skin quality and texture, while reducing fine and moderately deep lines. Because CO2 laser resurfacing relies on stimulating collagen synthesis, results are very impressive and more natural appearing than when relying on injectable fillers alone.
More specifically, fractionated CO2 laser resurfacing yields dramatic improvement in skin tone and texture; evens out pigmentation and eliminates sunspots, as well as smoothes lines, including those around the mouth and eyes. By physically removing the top layers of damaged skin, CO2 laser resurfacing also has medical benefit, removing pre-cancers and stimulating growth of healthier younger skin.
What is the CO2 laser used for?
Because fractionated CO2 laser resurfacing targets lines, texture, tone, and brown spots, it’s used to globally rejuvenate the skin. It corrects color problems, eliminates fine lines and tightens the skin, giving the entire face a younger, refreshed appearance. Although it is most often used to treat the face, the CO2 laser can be used to improve neck, chest, arms, and hand skin. It is also frequently combined with surgical lifting procedures. If a facelift or neck lift is performed alone, the skin often doesn’t match the newer lifted appearance, making it look “done.” By rejuvenating the skin at the same time as surgery, the final result is a much more natural. The laser also beautifully softens and eliminates vertical lines around the mouth and tightens eyelid skin, which no surgical or injectable filler procedure can accomplish well.
How does it work?
In the 1990s, fully ablative CO2 laser resurfacing was the only technology available, and because this laser removed the entire skin’s surface at once, healing was prolonged and there was a higher chance of scarring or permanent pigmentary changes after treatment. More recently, fully ablative devices have been replaced with fractionated devices that offer both a faster recovery and fewer side effects. The fractionated CO2 laser works by focusing microscopic beams of light into the skin in a grid pattern. Because the laser targets water, a major component of the skin, it immediately vaporizes tissue when fired. Vaporized tissue removes brown spots and sun damage, and the resulting micro-wounds created by the laser stimulate a wound healing process that leads to collagen synthesis. Ultimately, this smoothens lines and tightens skin. Because there are small areas of “normal” skin between the micro wounds, healing is accelerated. Typically, pink new skin is visible 5-10 days after the procedure.
Who is a good candidate?
Healthy patients with realistic expectations who are seeking total skin rejuvenation or treatment of scars from surgery or acne are excellent candidates for fractionated CO2 laser resurfacing. Patients with active inflammatory skin conditions may require treatment of these conditions before lasering, and those with very dark skin are not good candidates because of a risk of changing the skin’s native color.
During your evaluation, your board-certified dermatologist will review your medical history and medications as well as evaluate your skin and discuss your expectations. Certain medical conditions and medications can increase procedure risks and recovery time. If you smoke, it is best to stop or reduce your smoking before treatment as smoking can slow the recovery process. We may also recommend prophylactic anti-viral medication to prevent any cold sore outbreaks after your procedure.
Your dermatologist will define the problem areas and the treatment pattern to be used and take baseline pre-procedure photographs. Typically, we recommend wearing comfortable clothing and having a family member or friend with you to drive you home after the procedure. Before treatment you will receive an entire briefing of what to expect, potential risks and side effects, and how to care for yourself after the procedure.
A combination of topical and injected local anesthetic will be used to maximize your comfort before the procedure. We use many specialized techniques to minimize discomfort during the numbing process. If you are anxious, you may be offered a medication to help decrease anxiety, but you will be awake during your treatment. General anesthesia is unnecessary and puts you at increased risks. Once numb and comfortable, your dermatologist will use a combination of treatment settings specifically tailored to your skin type and degree of rejuvenation desired. Following treatment, an emollient is applied and post-care instructions are re-reviewed. The whole procedure from photos to post-treatment typically takes 1.5-2 hours.
Post-treatment and recovery
You will receive detailed instructions for postoperative care. Following these instructions is essential for maximizing your comfort, for achieving best results, and to avoid complications.
After your CO2 laser resurfacing treatment, you will look like you have a bad sunburn and your skin will be warm. Initially, swelling is usually most significant around the eyes. It is normal for the skin to be moist and even contain some crusting. Over the course of 3-5 days, the old damaged skin will begin to come off and light flaking will continue for up to 10 days. Although your skin can remain pink for a few weeks, most patients are able to apply make-up in 7-10 days post-treatment. We will watch your healing closely to make sure you are progressing well and that you are healing as expected. Our staff and dermatologist are available for any questions you may have during your recovery period.
Although your skin will be visibly tighter and smoother in 1 week after the procedure, final results are typically seen at 3-6 months later as it takes time for new collagen to synthesize.