Carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers are devices that emit gas as infrared light to destroy dermatological lesions.
CO2 lasers have been in use for over 25 years. They’re employed in surgical procedures, aesthetic care, and dermatological treatments to reduce medium and fine lines, scars of various origins, pigmentation disorders, and dilated pores.
While they are highly effective at treating scars and wrinkles on the face, traditional CO2 lasers required relatively long periods of downtime and caused redness that could last for several months, a source of frustration for some patients.
Progress has been made, and new practices such as the fractional technique are now more common.
Fractional CO2 lasers are based on a new way of applying impacts. The fractional technique used today was initially designed for non-ablative sculpting lasers. It divides the laser beam into multiple, smaller beams spaced regularly to leave intervals of healthy skin intact, from which healing takes place more quickly and with shorter downtime.
Fractionation and its advantages
·Effective treatment: results from the first session
·Practically painless treatment
· Rapid healing, in 6 days
·Treatment with no time away from social and professional activities
Fractionation is a new method that employs a sweeping scanner.
This scanner breaks the laser beam up into microbeams that are evenly distributed over the skin’s surface and leave intervals of healthy skin. 60% to 85% of skin is left intact. This new approach keeps recovery time very short as compared with older CO2 resurfacing laser treatments.
This method ensures skin is less affected, resulting in minimal time away from social and professional activities. (Patients can return to work quickly, in just a few days.)
Results are generally visible after the first session. Depending on patients’ requests and their availability for longer or shorter periods of time away from social and professional activities, fractional CO2 treatments of varying degrees of intensity can be performed. A series of 3 to 4 mild treatments allows patients to return to work with makeup after 3 days, while a more powerful, single treatment session can allow patients to return to work after about a week.
·Wrinkles and fine lines
·Actinic elastosis (skin slackening)
·Solar lentigines (age spots)
·Atrophic scars, particularly from acne
Areas that can be treated with a fractional CO2 laser
·While CO2 lasers are traditionally used to treat the face, they may also be indicated for the following areas:
·The neck (taking careful precaution with CO2 lasers in this area due to the risk of scarring)
·Known hypersensitivity to light
·Treatment with medication that increases sensitivity to light
·Treatment with blood thinners
·Treatment with oral isotretinoin within the past 6 months
·Patients must not have a suntan
·History of hypertrophic scarring
Further reading：CO2 fractional laser reconstruction and treatment of the skin