The carbon dioxide laser is one of the newest techniques to “resurface” the skin. Time and the sun cause aging and photoaging of the skin. The skin looses its vibrant appearance and becomes dull. Brown spots from both sun and aging appear. Fine lines develop, and eventually progress into deeper lines. Smoking decreases the oxygen flow to the skin and facilitates this process. For years, people have looked to rejuvinate their skin and bring back its youthful appearance. In the past this has successfully been done with chemical peels and dermabrasion. Now, the laser offers a more precise and accurate method of obtaining these results.
Lasers, including the carbon dioxide laser, have been used in the treatment of various skin conditions for the past several decades. Recent innovations have transformed the carbon dioxide laser into a more precise and controlled machine. This intense beam of light can now vaporize thin controlled layers of skin to create a smoother and more youthful appearance. The surgeon can fine tune and individualize treatment for each patient to address each area of the face separately to create the optimal outcome.
One of the advantages that carbon dioxide laser resurfacing offers is the heat that is generated during the procedure. This actually causes the collagen in the skin to shrink and contract. This is the reason that one can get a “mini-lift” from this procedure. While it does not give a true face-lift, where the skin and fat is lifted, it can, in the appropriate situation, provide good shrinkage of the skin. The Erbium: YAG laser, which can also be used to resurface and rejuvenate the skin, does not provide this collagen contraction.
Treatment with the carbon dioxide laser focuses on removing lines around the mouth, eyes and forehead. Depending on the type and severity of the lines, botox and/or collagen or fat injections may give you the optimal result. Acne and surgical scars can also achieve significant improvement with carbon dioxide laser resurfacing.
Pre-treatment with both topical and oral medications is necessary. Strict avoidance of the sun is essential to help prevent hyperpigmentation. A test site may be performed to assess an individual’s reaction prior to treating an entire area. After treatment there will be redness, oozing and swelling for 3-10 days. Pain medication will be provided if necessary. Meticulous wound care will need to be followed. Make-up can usually be applied 1-2 weeks after treatment. The aesthetician can guide you on camouflage makeup. Healing is approximately 1-2 weeks, but persistent redness may be seen for a few months after the treatment. Detailed instructions on pre-operative and post-operative care are attached.
As with any procedure, risks are associated with this procedure. These include, but are not limited to, infection, pigmentation changes, prolonged redness and scarring. Although the skin condition will improve with treatment, a subsequent touch-up may be necessary, particularly with deeper lesions.