Fractional or “pixilated” carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers are one of the latest advances in non-surgical skin rejuvenation treatments. Fractional CO2 lasers are an excellent choice for treating textural changes from sun damage (including precancerous growths), wrinkles (including crows feet), uneven coloring or blotchiness, skin laxity, dull tone, thinned collagen layers of the face, neck and chest, acne scars, and surgical or traumatic scars. It can be used on the delicate eyelid skin and around the mouth. The results are amazing.
How does a CO2 Laser work?
Collagen is the main protein found in the skin and other connective tissue. Collagen is what helps give our skin strength and elasticity and replaces dead skin cells. which helps keep skin firm and smooth. As we age, our body’s collagen production naturally begins to slow down and skin begins to wrinkle and sage. Other factors that contribute to low levels of collagen include sun exposure, pollution, diets high in sugar, and smoking.
The fractional CO2 laser takes the CO2 laser beam and pixelates that beam into thousands of tiny little shafts of light to make small holes in the skin. These tiny shafts of light penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin. The skin then repairs those tiny shafts by pushing out the old sun damaged skin and replacing it with new skin. The body responds by naturally increasing the production of collagen to repair and replace the damaged skin cells. Unlike older methods of laser therapy, the CO2 laser does not damage the top layer of the skin, providing maximum results with minimal recovery time.
Laser rejuvenation is not the least expensive method of skin rejuvenation (sometimes costing up to $1500), but it works quickly and incredibly effective. The number of treatments will depend on the extent of your sun damage, scarring or wrinkles, and on how much downtime you can accept. It is typically performed over 2 or 3 sessions, with about four days of down time following each treatment. It is believed that the effects can last between 8 and 10 years.
The type of laser used will depend on the type of skin and the severity of damage that is being treated. Laser and skin rejuvenation techniques can be combined to treat different areas of the skin and a variety of unwanted skin conditions. You will see some immediate results but you won’t see the full results for 3-6 months. Scarring and infections can occur in approximately 1% of patients. The risk of treatment related complications depends on the experience of the doctor.
The Fractional continuous CO2 laser has a lower cost, is noninvasive, has shorter operative and recovery times, more natural outcomes, and no scarring compared with traditional surgical techniques.