The gold standard in facial rejuvenation has been the older CO2 lasers which produced dramatic improvement in wrinkles and sun damage often making people look 10 or more years younger. However, the healing times are long and there were risks and complications associated with these lasers.
The newer fractionated CO2 lasers are less invasive, heal quicker, and have lower risks. The results are almost as good as the older CO2 lasers, with significant improvement in wrinkles, sun damage and acne scarring.
Frac co2 works by producing columns of laser beams which precisely penetrate to the level of wrinkles or scars, and stimulate your own skin to replace the old collagen with new “baby” collagen. In between the laser beams, the skin remains intact, allowing healing to occur quickly. Who is suitable for Frac c02? Moderate to severe facial wrinkles Moderate wrinkles neck, hands Sun damage and brown spots Acne and other Scarring
The treatment involves using the laser over a complete area or whole face. It is not suitable for a single wrinkle line or fold. A numbing cream is applied to the area for at least 1-2 hours prior to treatment, and in some cases local anaesthetic injections are used. Pain puffers and medication can also be used if needed. The laser is applied to the affected areas. At the end of the treatment the area will look like small white or red dots that disappear by the following day. There is usually redness that lasts at least 7 days, and swelling for a few days. Most people need about 5 days off work.
Depending on the degree or wrinkling or scarring and your expectations, you would usually need 1-3 treatments. Some people need more, especially those with severe acne scarring.
Pain really depends on how strong you use the Frac c02 laser. In most cases, it is essential to use at least a numbing cream, and often local anaesthetic injections are also used.
After the treatment, there is some discomfort for about 1 hour. It is best relieved by using ice, cold air, or cold compresses.
Immediately after the treatment you will look red, with tiny white dots, or pinpoint bleeding on your skin. These dots usually disappear the next day. Swelling will last a few days and redness at least 7 days. You can apply makeup usually after 3 days, but you usually need a few days (5-7) days off work.
There are no special precautions before the treatment except: If you have a history of cold sores, you may need to take an anti cold sore tablet starting the day before treatment. If you have recently taken Ro Accutane for acne, you may more suited to non ablative fractional laser eg Fraxel.
After the treatment, in most cases you will Take antibiotics to prevent infection (depending on the doctor’s decision). Use light non greasy moisturiser and sunscreen, the clinic will recommend one that is suitable for your skin. You may wish to take anti swelling tablets for a few days. You may wish to use compresses with white vinegar and water for the first 24 hours to reduce swelling. Wash your skin with a gentle cleanser eg Cetaphil lotion. If you have darker skin, you may need to use a bleaching lotion after the treatment to prevent post treatment increase in skin pigmentation.
After one treatment session, depending on the strength of the treatment, you should notice a significant improvement in wrinkles especially around the eyes. Lines around the mouth are more difficult and may need more than one session. Acne scars usually show more improvement with the fractionated CO2 laser than with the older fraxel laser after the first treatment.
Nowadays there are many options for treating wrinkles, sun damage and acne scarring. During the consultation process, all options can costs can be discussed. They include: Wrinkles Other Lasers; Non Fractional CO2, Erbium Chemical Peeling Injectable Fillers. There are many injectable fillers which can be temporary, semipermanent, and permanent Muscle Relaxing Injections. These generally last 3-4 months and are excellent for frown lines and smile lines around the eyes Non Lasers Plasma Portrait PSR Acne Scarring Fraxel Laser Needling scars Injectable Fillers Microdermabrasion-Mild non depressed scars Pulsed light- Red or brown scars, not depressed scars Many people may benefit from a combination of these treatments rather than one alone.