CO2 laser remains a gold standard for skin rejuvenation and scar treatment. CO2 laser is also utilized to improve wrinkles, remove age spots and improve skin tone and texture. CO2 laser is also a very effective scar treatment including scars due to acne, injury, burns and surgery. CO2 laser has the power to vaporize unwanted skin changes plus it also results in a surrounding ‘coagulation’ zone that provides the stimulus for many of its collagen remodelling properties and skin tightening benefits.
We have several different CO2 lasers. It’s a versatile tool used for many different skin treatments from acne scarring, skin cancer (laser assisted photodynamic therapy and laser lip (vermilionectomy)) to photo rejuvenation. This remains one of our favourite laser treatments because of CO2’s effectiveness and versatility. New developments have enhanced its flexibility, improved outcomes and also reduced downtime and recovery. These include the ALMA Hybrid laser and laser assisted drug and cosmeceutical delivery options.
What is it and how does it work?
CO2 laser, also known as carbon dioxide laser, delivers beams of light energy to the skin’s surface to target specific areas or skin concerns. It targets the water contained in the skin to vaporize unwanted skin lesions and to target problem skin areas. It is also used in a resurfacing or fractionated mode to contract skin collagen and promote new collagen (and elastin) fibre production. This helps improve skin texture, reduce wrinkles, fine lines, scars, and pigmentation irregularities.
It can be used for precise tissue or lesion removal or to help reshape specific areas of skin (such as a nose affected by rosacea ‘rhinophyma’) or for a general rejuvenation and skin improving effect.
- Aged or photoaged Skin (including skin laxity and firmness)
- Lines and wrinkles
- Poor skin texture and quality
- Lax and sagging skin
- Age spots and uneven skin pigment
- Acne scarring + surgical and other scars
- Actinic keratosis (and surface skin cancers)
- Large pores
- Stretch marks
What is involved? What is the downtime?
During the treatment, a local anaesthetic or numbing cream is used to minimize discomfort along with other precautions. The laser is then directed at the targeted areas with the intensity and depth of treatment adjusted based on your specific skin concern, desired outcome, and downtime available.
Light, medium, and stronger treatments vary in both what they are utilized to treat, potential benefits along with downtime and treatment risks.
After the treatment, the skin will be red, swollen and have a sunburn-like appearance and sensation. With stronger treatments some crusting and weeping lasting days is seen. It is important to follow post-treatment care instructions and you will be followed up closely by our team. You will need to follow a careful skin care program and avoid sun exposure immediately after your treatment followed by good sun protection in the following period.
How many treatments will I require?
This will vary between individuals, their skin problem and tolerance of downtime.
Rather than a single strong treatment a series of 3 treatments with less associated downtime can be a good option for photorejuvenation and other treatment concerns. These can be spaced a month or more apart.
For more severe acne scarring a series of treatments is usually recommended for more optimal results (often CO2 laser is used in combination with other treatments such as subcision and/or dermal filler).
What are the risks?
CO2 laser treatment carries some risks, including the potential for infection, scarring, changes in skin pigmentation and prolonged redness.
These risks can be reduced by taking proper precautions and having your treatment provided by an experienced dermatology team. Your preparation and after care plus follow up are also key.
In people with a darker skin type the risk of PIH or post inflammatory hyperpigmentation is increased. Depending on the condition you want treated there may be other treatment options with a lower risk of causing pigmentation changes. If CO2 laser remains the best treatment option treatment can be tailored such as by utilizing a Hybrid CO2 laser with treatment settings and strategy adjusted to balance benefits and risks. Good sun protection before and after laser along with tailored post laser care also reduces pigmentation risks. There are also effective corrective treatments available should this occur.
When do I see benefits and does everyone benefit?
Although benefits begin right after your treatment is completed, full benefits take 3-6 months.
Benefits vary. This treatment relies on your body’s healing response including the production of new collagen fibres. Age, general health, some medications and smoking can all affect recovery and the benefits seen.
What other treatments does this work in combination with?
Platelet Rich Plasma is often combined in the same treatment session to speed healing and promote skin repair plus also reduce your downtime.
There are also several topical preparations and serums that can assist with healing and treatment outcome (laser assisted cosmeceutical or drug delivery). These are tailored to your indication of treatment and treatment performed.
Schedule an appointment with our experienced team of cosmetic dermatology nurses, dermal assistant and/or dermatologist to see if this treatment, its risks and downtime is right for you, your skin condition, and your needs.