Every day our skin is exposed to harsh UV radiation and is undergoing sun damage. Our skin in its youth has a delicate balance between producing new collagen and losing collagen due to sun damage. As we grow older or expose ourselves excessively to the sun, this balance is disturbed, leading to a reduction of collagen which keeps the skin tight and youthful. As we age, our skin’s ability to replace collagen, produced by fibroblasts, is reduced because of damage to the fibroblasts from UV. Collagen and elastin diminish in the skin.
Early signs of ageing start to appear in the form of fine lines and wrinkles, eventually leading to loose or lax skin, a process called elastosis.
Whilst aging causes the above concerns, there are other stubborn issues such as acne scars, open pores, sun spots, hyperpigmentation, etc. which can leave you socially insecure.
Fortunately, you don’t have to live with these stubborn skin issues. There are treatments nowadays that can eliminate them, leaving your face rejuvenated and flawless. One of these safe and effective procedures is the Fractional CO2 Laser Treatment. Known as Fraxis, Fraxel, and Pixel.
1. What Is Fractional CO2 Laser Treatment?
It is an advanced skin treatment that uses a laser, specially made of carbon dioxide to ablate and remove the outer layers of the area of skin and if appropriate, to target deeper layers. This leaves the skin looking more even, as well as encouraging new collagen to grow with a healthier look. Fractional CO2 Laser skin treatment is a proven way to help reduce wrinkles, age spots, acne scars, and other blemishes as well as tighten skin and balanced tone.
Fractional CO2 laser treatment is designed to stimulate natural collagen production in the skin of the face, neck, chest, and hands, leading to steady rejuvenation over several months and lasting up to several years. Additionally, laser treatment can be used in combination with aesthetic facial surgery, such as a facelift or neck lift, to achieve the best results possible.
2. How does it work?
Fractional CO2 laser treatment uses micro-beams of light energy to create tiny pin-point punctures in the surface of the skin and penetrate the deeper layers of the skin. These beams are delivered in a scanning pattern to remove upper layers of skin with minimal heat damage. The laser targets only a percentage of the skin whilst leaving the remaining skin intact. This helps the skin rejuvenate faster, triggering the skin’s natural healing process which produces collagen and elastin, replacing damaged skin and leaving you with fresh, glowing, and healthy skin.
The laser can target the skin to not only improve the appearance of pores on the outer layer of your skin but also work deep into the dermis to smooth and reduce the appearance of acne scars.
3. What does Fractional CO2 Laser treat?
A fractional CO2 laser is commonly used to treat acne scars. However, it can also tend to a wide range of stubborn skin issues such as:
- Age spots
- Crow’s feet
- Enlarged oil glands (especially around the nose)
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Skin laxity
- Open pores
- Sun damage
- Uneven skin tone
4. Is the procedure painful?
This depends on the intensity and depth of the treatment. However, since the procedure involves applying a topical anesthetic cream to the area prior to treatment, your face will be numb which ensures a mainly painless treatment. Most patients would find the pain minimal and often describe the sensation similar to prickling, or heat like a sunburn.
5. Is there any downtime?
The good thing about Fractional CO2 Laser Treatment is you can leave the clinic immediately following the procedure. The recovery period is also relatively short-lasting only 5 to 7 days. As a general rule, the bigger the treatment area and the deeper the laser, the longer the recovery time.
While you don’t need to be at home during the entire recovery process, you’ll want to avoid known areas of germs — such as the gym, swimming pools— that could increase your risk of infection.
6. What to expect post-treatment?
Your skin may be sun-sensitive for up to one year following the Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing procedure. Wearing sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 can help reduce your risk for sunburn and sun damage. Do make sure to also use a gentle cleanser and moisturizer twice a day and avoid any harsh products. It’s best to limit the use of makeup products initially as well because they can irritate the skin even more.
7. Are There Any Side Effects?
Like other cosmetic procedures, laser skin resurfacing does pose the risk for side effects. Since the fractional CO2 laser procedure introduces heat (through the laser) into the skin, patients there will be some redness or swelling in the treated area. Some may even experience discomfort and scabs.
In some rare cases, patients may experience hyperpigmentation or prolonged erythema (redness)
By following your clinic’s pre-care and post-care instructions, you may reduce your risk for these types of complications. Depending on your medical history, you may be prescribed a precautionary antibiotic or antiviral medication.
8. Who is an ideal candidate for Fractional CO2 Laser Treatment?
If you have fine lines or wrinkles around your eyes or mouth or on your forehead, shallow scars from acne, or non-responsive skin after a facelift, then you may be a good candidate for laser skin resurfacing.
Unfortunately, the fractional CO2 laser is not for everyone. Individuals with extensive breakouts, open wounds, or any infections on the face are advised to stay away from this skin procedure. Also a history of hypertrophic or keloid scarring.
A pre-treatment consultation is essential to assess if you are a suitable candidate for this procedure.
9. How much does the treatment cost?
The price for the CO2 laser procedure will vary depending on your areas of concern, the practitioner you opt to get treated from, the number of sessions needed, and your ultimate goals. Partial facial area treatment starts at $500 and increases to $850 for a full facial treatment, $1100 for the face and neck. Individual scar treatment priced at consultation
The fractional CO2 laser is a non-surgical treatment that targets acne scars, fine lines, and other skin concerns with minimal downtime. It involves eliminating the outer layer of damaged skin which stimulates collagen production for firmer, healthy, and younger-looking skin.
Individual results vary based on the extent of the initial concerns being treated. You can expect your results to last for several years once you’re done with your treatment sessions. However, the results aren’t permanent. You may need to repeat the procedure at some point.
Given the delicate nature of this procedure, it’s important to work with an experienced cosmetic Nurse or Doctor. In the hands of a poorly trained individual, lasers can be ineffective or even dangerous. Choose a laser resurfacing provider based on an individual’s experience, training, and qualification. Don’t make your pick based solely on who offers the best deal or has a brand name laser platform.