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C02 Laser - Skin Resurfacing

Carbon dioxide lasers have been in use for many years to treat different benign and malignant skin conditions. A new generation of carbon dioxide lasers uses very short pulsed light energy (ultrapulsed) or continuous light beams that are delivered in a scanning pattern to very precisely remove thin layers of skin with minimal heat damage to the surrounding structures. These lasers have been successfully used to treat wrinkles (rhytides) and scars, as well as other benign skin growths such as warts, linear epidermal nevi (birthmarks), rhinophyma (enlarged oil glands on the nose), and other skin conditions.

CO2 laser resurfacing is a procedure to minimize fine lines, wrinkles, and scarring on the skin. CO2 laser resurfacing is marketed as a more convenient solution to the traditional face lift. There are two main types of lasers used in skin resurfacing, CO2 and erbium lasers. CO2 lasers have a weaker wavelength and therefore particle concentration than erbium lasers, and are the most used laser on the facial area. Erbium lasers are used primary for large body area resurfacing, or deeper problems like scars.

Unlike derma fillers and other injection based wrinkle control, CO2 laser resurfacing does use a local anesthesia to numb the treated area. Since more skin area is damaged to force a deep repair, the risks of CO2 laser resurfacing may be too much for some patients.

Typical facial resurfacing can last from a half hour to two hours, largely based on the size of the treated area. After the procedure, side effects are generally consistent with a moderate sun burn. For the first few days, treated skin will sting, itch, and feel mildly burned.

For the first 24 hours, there will be a sterile dressing over the area treated by a CO2 laser. After this, patients will need to regularly clean the area per the doctor's instructions to ward off infection. A topical cream should also be prescribed and applied to prevent scabbing.

Since your skin was effectively damaged by the laser to force it into super repair mode, CO2 laser resurfacing patients must take extra precautions while healing. Small cold sores and skin infections can become stubborn to heal, so hygiene is a must. Also, daily sunscreen and even hat coverage for prolonged sun exposure will reduce the likelihood of new damage to the sensitive resurfaced skin.

Full healing from CO2 laser resurfacing takes a couple of months. After a few weeks, skin is fine for makeup coverage, and most patients hide any lingering redness with green based cosmetics. Since CO2 laser resurfacing is cosmetic surgery, and involves local anesthesia, patients should review their entire medical history with their doctors to avoid any larger health risks.

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