David T. Harvey, MD Mohs Surgeon & Cosmetic Dermatologist
Laser resurfacing refers to a laser treatment that targets water in the skin. This procedure is the gold standard for skin rejuvenation. Damaged skin cells and wrinkles are replaced by healthy skin cells and newly stimulated collagen fibers. This procedure improves skin texture, wrinkles, and color for most patients. It is one of my favorites now that fractional technology is available for this laser type.
WHO IS QUALIFIED TO PERFORM LASER SURGERY?
Most dermatologists have experience with laser surgery, as this is required in their residency. Since results are operator dependent, it’s important to select a cosmetic dermatologist with experience.
CO2 LASER RESURFACING CAN:
Erase fine lines and wrinkles of the face
Smooth and tighten eyelid skin
Improve crow’s feet around the eyes
Soften pucker marks and frown lines
Remove brown spots and splotchy, uneven skin color
Improve and flatten scars
Improve the appearance of stretch marks
Repair smoker’s lines
Improve skin tone and texture of the face, neck and décolleté.
HOW LONG DOES THE TREATMENT TAKE?
CO2 laser resurfacing takes about an hour to perform. One to three treatments may be required.
WHAT ABOUT THE PRE-OP CARE?
It is necessary to obtain a pre-op history for the procedure. In some instances, Neurotoxin (Botox) treatments are performed to relax the muscles of facial expression. All retinoic acid products should be discontinued for one week prior to the procedure. Pre-op antibiotic and antiviral medications are employed to minimize the risk of infection. Finally, we ask our patients to have someone drive them to and from the office and to stay with them for the first 24 hours after surgery.
WHAT CAN BE EXPECTED DURING AND AFTER TREATMENT?
Discomfort is usually minor during the procedure. Following skin resurfacing, the skin is red or pink and may be covered with a fine crust. Treated sites must be protected from sunlight after the procedure. Once healing is completed, protective sunblock should be applied on a regular basis.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE POTENTIAL RISKS WITH CO2 LASER RESURFACING?
Significant complications are rare, and the risk of scarring is low. Some patients may be at risk for varying degrees of pigmentation loss, particularly with aggressive CO2 settings. Other common side effects include crusting, swelling, pain, and discoloration at the treatment sites. These issues usually resolve in short order.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SEE THE BENEFITS FROM LASER?
It can take up to 1 to 4 weeks to see beneficial results. Final results are seen at 6 months to one year.
Laser resurfacing is not a substitute for a facelift, nor can the procedure eliminate excessive skin or jowl formation. However, by tightening loose skin, laser resurfacing can improve certain folds, creases, acne scars and pores. This technique is an advance over traditional procedures such as dermabrasion. It can be used in conjunction with other techniques such as chemical peeling, eyelid surgery, liposuction, skin tightening procedures, neurotoxin treatments and filler therapies.