Fractional or “pixilated” carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers is one of the latest advances in non-surgical skin rejuvenation treatments. The CO2 laser has the longest wavelength of all the lasers on the market and can be used safely on darker skin types with appropriate adjustments in the settings.

Fractional CO2 lasers excel at treating deeper wrinkles, more severe textural changes from sun damage, wrinkles, blotchiness, acne scars, and surgical or traumatic scars. It can be used on the delicate eyelid skin and around the mouth. It is also a very effective treatment for sun damage and precancerous growths

How does the fractional CO2 laser work?

The fractional CO2 laser takes the CO2 laser beam and fractionates, or pixellates that beam into thousands of tiny little shafts of light. These tiny shafts of light penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin. The skin then repairs those tiny shafts by pushing out the old sun damaged skin and replacing it with new skin. The “collateral” heat damage also helps to shrink existing collagen.Can I do the fractional CO2 laser with other cosmetic treatments?

Not the same day generally. The CO2 laser is compatible long term with Botox, Juvederm, Restylane, Sculptra and other laser based technologies like hair removal, Fraxel Restore, IPL, pulsed dye, etc.

How long do the effects of a fractional CO2 resurfacing laser treatment last?

That depends on how well you protect your skin from the sun and other factors that cause aging like your general health, smoking, changes in weight, etc.  If you apply sunscreen and wear brimmed hats, you can maintain the good effects of your CO2 laser treatment for several years. How long does the fractional CO2 laser take to work?

When will I see results?

Bear in mind that the fractional CO2 laser can be customized. Treatments can be deeper, with more healing and downtime, or shallower, with less healing time. The deeper the treatment, the better the results generally. But some patients prefer to have two treatments that aren’t as deep so they can avoid a lot of downtime.

You will see some immediate results but you won’t see the full results for 3-6 months. After your skin heals, which may take up to 3-14 days, there will be a period of 4 to 6 weeks after that when your skin might be slightly pink. During this period, your skin will feel smoother and looks less blotchy. As the color returns to normal, you will see fewer lines, less blotchiness, and more glow.

How are fractional CO2 laser treatments performed?

 You need to arrive 1 ½ hours before your treatment. You or a technician will cleanse the treatment area and then apply a numbing cream to the area to be treated. 

After you numb for about an hour, the numbing gel will be removed. The treatment takes about an hour for a full face and feels a little like a “pins and needles” sensation. A strong stream of cold air (a Zimmer cooler) is blown on the area during the treatment to make it comfortable. The discomfort ranges from mild to moderate (2-4/10). 

How does this laser work for acne scars and other scars?

CO2 lasers have always been very effective for acne and other scars and the fractional CO2 is no exception. It remains to be seen if it is as effective as the traditional CO2. However, as the settings for the “DOT” or “Deep Fx” for both acne, surgical and traumatic scars keep being improved, many of us think that results will be as good without many of the risks with the older forms of this laser. Go to an expert if scars are your issue.