The CO2 fractional laser or known as the removal of acne scars is a method that is used for skin resurfacing as an alternative resurfacing technique other than ablative laser or a chemical peel. The main goal of the treatment is to reduce irregularities in the skin such as fine lines, wrinkles, spots caused by sun damage, uneven colouration, and scars due to acne. This treatment provides faster healing in contrast to ablative procedures.
The fractional CO2 laser is effective in removing acne scars permanently. Scars can reduce your confidence and self-esteem. As the name suggests, fractional CO2 laser uses CO2 lasers to penetrate deep into the skin to promote healing of the skin and at the same time not causing damage to the upper layer of the skin called the epidermis. A fractional laser produces microbeams that generate thousands of small columns that penetrate the outer layer of the skin or epidermis and the deeper layer known as the dermis. These columns of heat damages the internal layers of skin and this triggers the healthy skin surrounding the columns to start the repair process by the body’s healing mechanism. The skin will heal from the bottom and replaces the damaged skin on top. This results in an improved complexion. The result is a more even-textured and tighter looking skin. This is different from ablative lasers that damage the epidermis to induce healing.
Fractional CO2 laser treatment is a safe procedure. Complications and side effects with this procedure are rare, especially if it is done by experienced practitioners. Below is a list of the possible side effects:
- Pain: These are very subjective and depend on the individual but the majority of people did not complain of any pain. They usually experienced minor discomfort. Before the procedure, a cream that causes numbness will be applied to your face to counter this effect. Your doctor will assess the level of pain you are experiencing and may give you some local anaesthetic agent if needed or required.
- Redness: Some people may experience the redness of the face that persists for a few weeks.
- Scarring: There is a very small chance of scarring and your doctor will ask with regards to your history of skin problems to determine if you are at risk of scarring.
- Hyperpigmentation: There is a higher risk of this happening in people with darker skin tones.
- Infection: People who have weak immune systems or on medications that weaken their immunity like chemotherapy or corticosteroids are not advised to undergo this procedure.
Don’t worry, your doctor will extensively assess the pros and cons of any procedure that you will undergo. They will discuss them with you before proceeding.
Talk to a doctor to get advice if this is a suitable treatment for you. Fractional CO2 laser treatment can be used for a variety of conditions listed below:
- Acne scars
- Blotchy skin
- Surgical or traumatic scar
After the procedure, you should expect your skin to feel raw like a sunburn. Right after the treatment, you should not be going back to work for a few days. How long depends on how deep the treatment went. For lighter treatments, three to five days off from work is expected while for deeper treatments, five to seven days off is expected.