The CO2 laser has traditionally been used to resurface skin in a manner that caused total destruction of the area covered. This method although very effective, also came with a considerable risk of scarring not to mention the prolonged healing phase (several weeks at a minimum). With the newer Fractionated CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing technology that same CO2 laser beam is broken (or fractionated) into hundreds of tiny laser columns. The effect is similar to aerating your lawn: numerous tiny plugs into the surface promote growth without the need to destroy the entire lawn. Fractionated CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing has been proven effective in stimulating repair and growth of those skin components that tend to deteriorate with sun damage and aging. Much like the aerated lawn, the final result is not appreciated for 2-4 months because it is within that time frame that the remodeling skin occurs.
Prior to treatment we ask that you avoid tanning your skin, take the pre-operative antiviral medications (Valtrex, valacyclovier, or acyclovir) and adjust your daily schedule to allow you to “lie low” for perhaps the first 2 days following laser treatment. If your skin is prone to acne breakouts then discuss this with your physician as he/she may recommend a preventative antibiotic such as doxycycline.
What to Expect with CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing
Day of Procedure: You will have your pre-op picture taken with a special camera that records pigmentation, vasculature of the skin and texture. Then a staff member will apply a thick layer of anesthetic cream to the treatment area. They will then apply plastic wrap to decrease evaporation of the cream and to keep it from being accidentally removed. This cream will sit for about 45 minutes to 1 hour before your laser session will begin.
In the laser room you will be reclined to our procedure chair, the plastic wrap and cream will be removed and the skin dried with a fan. You will wear plastic eye shields and we will give you a “squeeze ball”. Then the procedure begins.
The laser “buzzes” with each pulse and this is repeated many times. Expect there to be a smell. A little discomfort can be expected but let the physician know if you are very uncomfortable.
Once the treatment is over you will have cold washcloths applied to cool the skin followed by a heavy emollient ointment. It is normal to have pinpointed bleeding especially if you are fair skinned with many telangiectasias (superficial blood vessels).
You will be sent home with a “greasy, red face” possibly with pinpoint areas of bleeding.
NOTE: If you would like to avoid walking through our lobby following laser we can accommodate you. We will simply collect payment prior to treatment so that you can leave through the side door adjacent to the procedure room.
Once at home we recommend that you maintain that layer of emollient by reapplying Vaseline jelly, Aquaphor, or Vaniply ointment frequently. Pat dry any bleeding areas as necessary. Cool compresses may be soothing. Saline soaks (2 teaspoons table salt dissolved in 1 quart warm water) with a teaspoon of white vinegar should be performed about 3-5 times a day depending on how tight or dry your skin feels. A thin layer of the above ointments to the freshly dampened skin should be applied. Bottom line: Keep the skin hydrated and lock in the moisture with your chosen “grease”! Pinpoint bleeding usually stops that night or the following day; the tiny dried blood drops can seem like poppy seeds all over the face. Before going to bed make sure you have taken your anti-viral medications for the day, lubricate your skin, and put an old soft T-shirt over your pillow.
Day 2: You may be either pink and slightly swollen or reddish with brown patches. The eyelids swell more easily so expect puffy eyes. The dried blood (“poppy seeds”) may still be present. Continue with the soaks and lubricant. Avoid direct sun and wind.
Day 3: You will still be pinkish red and slightly puffy. Although the greasy lubricant is still preferred during your home bound hours, you can use your Oxygenetics make-up and begin doing errands/being seen in public without standing out!
Day 4: Still improving and decreasing the frequency of saline/vinegar soaks and greasy lubricants. You may find the Hyalatopic cream to be a nice alternative to the greasy look. Samples and a prescription will be given to you.
We expect you will see continued improvement with each day. You must however, continue to avoid wind and direct sun. Do not pick your skin (resist the temptation to peel away those flakes!)
Follow Up: Your initial follow up visit is after one week with the physician and then two to three months with the Aesthetician.
For further information about Fractionated CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing or to schedule an appointment, please contact our office at (757) 838-8030.