What is meant by skin resurfacing?
How our skin specialists can help rejuvenate your skin with skin resurfacing:
Skin resurfacing with a fractional CO2 laser is the most effective non-surgical option to rejuvenate your skin. This laser helps improve multiple problems associated with sun damage and skin ageing with relatively short “downtime” for the results that can be achieved.
Skin problems that can be improved using fractional CO2 laser include:
- Roughness/dryness/scaling and sun spots
- Brown sun spots (lentigines/seborrhoeic keratoses)
- Enlarged oil glands/open pores
- Sallow blotchy skin
- Fine to moderate wrinkles
- Moderate to severe acne scarring
- Surgical and traumatic scars
It also works well on crepey eyelid and neck skin and wrinkles around the mouth. It can be an excellent option for hand rejuvenation. This type of laser is a powerful tool to help remodel skin and must be performed by an expert.
How does skin resurfacing (fractional CO2 laser) work?
The beam of this laser is “fractionated” or broken up into thousands of tiny little shafts of light. These tiny shafts of light penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin. The skin then repairs those tiny columns by pushing out the old sun damaged skin and replacing it with new skin. The “collateral” heat damage also helps to shrink existing collagen.
What are the benefits of skin resurfacing?
Skin resurfacing can help you achieve younger and healthier looking skin. The skin texture is improved with smoother fresher, less blotchy skin which has an increased glow.
What results can skin resurfacing produce?
Very good to excellent results can generally be achieved with one treatment. Subsequent treatments may be needed depending on a number of factors particularly your age and the amount of sun damage you have.
Fractional CO2 laser treatments can be customized with deeper treatments requiring more healing and downtime, or shallower treatments, requiring less healing time. Generally the deeper the treatment, the better the results. Some patients prefer to have two treatments that aren’t as deep so they can avoid a lot of downtime.
Maintaining these results in the long term depends on how well you protect your skin from the sun and other factors that cause ageing like your general health, smoking, changes in weight, etc. With good sun protection and skin care products the beneficial effects of your CO2 laser treatment should last for several years.
How long does it take to see results from a skin peel?
You will see noticeable improvement in your skin within a few weeks. It takes up to 3-6 months to see your best results as your skin remodels and creates new collagen. After your skin heals, which may take up to 7-14 days, there will be a period of 4 to 6 weeks after that when your skin might be slightly pink. During this period, your skin will feel smoother and looks less blotchy. As the colour returns to normal, you will see fewer lines, less blotchiness, and more glow.
Things to consider before undertaking a skin resurfacing procedure
This treatment will require you to take some time off work. During the first 24 hours after treatment, your skin may feel as though it is sunburned, and you can develop small areas of pin point bleeding.
Ice packs are used 5-10 minutes per hour for the first 5-6 hours after the treatment.
Your skin will peel for 5-7 days and will be pink for 3 to 6 weeks. Healing times depend on how deep your treatment is. After a week or so, you can wear make-up to cover the pink.
For the lighter fractional CO2 treatments, you will need 3-5 days of downtime. For the deeper treatments, plan on 7-10 days of healing before you can go out in public.
Allow 2-4 weeks for any significant social engagements just to be safe.
Body sites like hands and arms can take longer.
Reasons not to do a fractional laser treatment may include use of medications that increase sun sensitivity, use of blood thinners (some are fine), use of isotretinoin (Roaccutane, Oratane, Accutane) in the last 6 months, chemotherapy, history of difficulty healing or scarring, history of bleeding disorders, and pregnancy.
How are fractional CO2 laser treatments performed?
Plan on being in the office for 2 ½ hours total. You need to arrive 1 ½ hours before your treatment. Your face is thoroughly cleaned and baseline photographs taken.
Then a numbing cream is applied and we have our patients take Panadol to reduce discomfort.
You then get to relax and read, watch TV or listen to music in our private waiting room while the numbing cream takes effect.
The treatment takes about 45 minutes for a full face and feels a little like a “pins and needles” sensation. Eyes are always covered but if we are treating you eyelids special eye shields (like contact lenses) are used to protect your eyes.
A strong stream of cold air is blown on the area during the treatment help with any discomfort. The discomfort ranges from mild to moderate (2-4/10).
Most people can drive to and from their own fractional CO2 laser appointments. Consider getting someone to drive you if you are having your hands treated.
How many treatments will I need?
The number depends on the extent of your sun damage, scarring or wrinkles, and on how much downtime you can accept. If you can tolerate 7 days of downtime, you would generally need only 1 or 2 fractional CO2 treatment.
Are there any side effects?
A dermatologist with experience in lasers is your best way to avoid any complications. Generally complications are rare. But here is a list of some of the possible complications of fractional CO2 laser treatments:
Pain: Most people feel very little pain during treatment due to the measures discussed above. Rarely there is mild discomfort for the first day after surgery, but Panadol is effective for it.
Swelling: Immediately after laser surgery, there will be swelling of the skin. This is a temporary condition and will resolve over three to seven days.
Redness: A pink colour may persist for two weeks to two months after the laser surgery. In rare instances, it may last three to six months. This is more common in patients who have a history of flushing and blushing easily or who already have dilated vessels on the surface of the skin.
Healing: The CO2 laser causes a superficial wound to the skin that takes approximately 2 to 10 days to heal. The superficial injury of the outer layers of the skin may result in mild to moderate swelling. Crusting is rare but peeling is common. Once the surface is treated, it may be sensitive to the sun for approximately 4-6 weeks.
Skin colour change: The treated area may heal with increased or decreased pigmentation. This is rare and occurs most often in darker skin and 2-6 weeks after treatment. Brown pigmentation usually fades in three to six months, though rarely pigment changes can be permanent.
Scarring: There is a very small chance of scarring. This includes hypertrophic scars or, very rarely, keloid scars. Keloid scars are thick, raised scar formations. To minimize chances of scarring, it is important to follow post-operative instructions carefully. It is important that any prior history of unfavorable healing be reported. It is very important not to pick at your skin as it is healing.
Eye exposure: There is also a risk of harmful eye exposure to laser surgery. We make sure you have protective eyewear at all times during the laser treatment.
Since every patient is an individual, you may not respond exactly the way other patients do.
Infection: Occasional infections can occur. If not treated promptly, these could result in scarring.
How much do fractional CO2 laser treatments cost?
Expect full face treatments between $1,500-$1,800. You’ll get a specific quote from your dermatologist at your consultation. Generally, up to 2 areas at a time can be treated. For example, face and neck or neck and chest, would have different prices. More areas at the same visit are not advised due to the potential toxicity of the numbing cream used prior to the treatment