What Is CO2 Laser Therapy Skin Resurfacing?
CO2 laser therapy is a resurfacing procedure that beams short bursts of high-energy light directly onto the skin. This creates multiple, microscopic wounds on the surface, effectively stimulating a cascade of healing processes that increase the production and promote the restructuring of collagen and elastic fibres within. This provides the skin with a naturally enhanced level of elasticity, improving the overall texture and condition.
By adjusting the power of the laser energy, the level of penetration to the tissue can be controlled. Deeper penetration stimulates more advanced levels of tissue regeneration. This yields more effective results when targeting scar tissue, as well as deeper lines and wrinkles.
Does CO2 Laser Therapy Hurt?
The Carbon Dioxide laser treatment involves a level of mild discomfort, likened to a pins and needles sensation, which may be experienced during the laser treatment, but topical anaesthetic can be provided to minimise this. Swelling, flaking of the skin and a sunburn-like redness and discomfort may be felt during the recovery phase. Mild treatments will usually have a recovery time of within seven to ten days post-treatment, but deeper treatments may have a much longer downtime.
When Can I Expect To See The Results From The CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing Treatment?
The regenerative process brought on by CO2 resurfacing is typically heightened during the first 7-14 days of recovery. During this time, the redness and swelling of the skin that occurs after the procedure gradually subsides, leaving behind fresh, rejuvenated skin. However, this is only the first step in the rejuvenation process. The second phase occurs over the course of 12 months post-treatment, as maximal levels of collagen and elastin fibres are reached and the deep layers of the skin are sufficiently reorganised. Having a skin care routine appropriately suited to your skin type, as well as proper protection from the sun, can yield rejuvenating results that are visible years after treatment.
Can CO2 Laser Therapy Reduce The Appearance Of Scars?
Whilst unable to remove scars completely, laser treatments can significantly reduce pigmentation and smooth the texture and visibility of scars. Through the customisation of the laser intensity to suit the various levels of scarring, patients can expect reduction in the appearance of acne scars, surgery scars and scars from physical injuries. The ablative action of the laser removes the superficial layer of the scar tissue and replenishes it with a new, more uniform layer of tissue. This new layer of scar tissue will have markedly reduced itching and pain, and an improved range of movement when compared to the previous scar.
Who Will Perform My Laser Treatment Procedure?
Laser therapy requires a deep understanding of the anatomy of the skin and its responsiveness to treatments and so should only be carried out by trained professionals. Tailoring the laser treatment to suit skin types and outcome objectives, as well as personal preferences, requires a high level of expert knowledge.
What Are The Risks and Side Effects?
Ablative CO2 resurfacing is a strong but effective method of skin resurfacing. The full risks and sides effects will be discussed with you during your consultation with our expert dermatologist including:
- Redness and swelling – This is to be expected during the healing process for the first few weeks. With fully ablative treatment, some patients will have prolonged redness for 3-4 It is important to understand that the skin is still healing and therefore protecting the skin with SPF 50 is essential.
- Milia – These small white lumps under the skin may form during the recovery period. If these persist, they can be removed with a small needle by your doctor.
- Acne – Whilst acne may flare up following treatment, this usually resolves.
- Scarring – This is extremely rare in experienced hands. Scarring can occur from thermal injury by the laser or due to an infection. Our laser consultants have a wealth of experience to protect you against this.
- Changes in skin colour – This occurs rarely, although more often in people with brown or black skin. The skin may become darker (hyperpigmented) or lighter (hypopigmented)
- Reactivation of a herpes simplex cold sore may occur. If you are prone to cold sores, your consultant may recommend taking antiviral medication to prevent this.
- Bacterial infection – This rare complication can be avoided by taking antibiotics before and after laser treatment.
What Happens During CO2 Laser Resurfacing?
Before the procedure, you will meet the consultant again who will explain the process and the aftercare in detail. An anesthetist will place a cannula in the back of the hand which will be used to give sedation during the procedure.
CO2 laser is performed in one of our specialized laser suites. If the eyelids are to be treated, metal shields will be placed under the lids to protect the eyes. If facial treatment only is performed, adhesive eye-shields that stick over the eyes will be applied. Laser resurfacing is usually performed under local anaesthetic with sedation which means you will be sleepy throughout and will not feel any pain. A barrier cream is applied to the skin after the laser to protect the skin from dehydration and infection.
What Is The After Care?
Following the procedure, the face may feel hot and sore. Patients will be provided with aftercare creams and detailed instructions. It is essential to use SPF50 for at least 3 months to protect the skin and to prevent complications.