Fractional Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Laser Resurfacing removes layers of skin tissue in a fractionated method (columns of skin are removed, leaving the skin surrounding each column intact to aid in healing) to help reduce “age-spots” (also called sun freckles, liver spots, and lentigines), fine lines, wrinkles, scarring, uneven coloration, skin laxity, textural irregularities, dull tone, and a thinned collagen layer of the face, neck, and chest.
The principle of the CO2 laser is to heat the target until it vaporises. There are many different brands of co2 laser, and most are equipped with three output modes, including continuous wave mode, superpulse mode and ultrapulse mode.
- Continuous Wave mode. The far left picture below. The traditional carbon dioxide laser, due to its low output power, needs to increase the temperature of the target by prolonging the heating time. Although the target is destroyed (the straight rectangle in the middle), it cannot reach the very deep level, and the heating time is too long, so that the heat spreads to a larger area (dark red around the rectangle), and damages the normal skin, which increases the incidence of side effects.
- Superpulse mode. The middle picture below. The advancement of laser technology shorten the time of the laser pulse to a very short time, and the output energy is high enough to destroy the target, and can reach a deeper depth. While it still produces unwanted heat damage, many of the side effects have been greatly reduced.
- Ultrapulse mode. The far right picture below. The latest generation of technology further shortens the time of the laser pulse, and the energy emitted is compressed to a very short time interval, which can destroy the tissue more efficiently, so that it can reach a much deeper level, resulting in the reduction of unnecessary thermal damage and it associated side effects.
In theory, Ultrapulse mode provides a “flat-top” pulsed beam with higher energy density and shorter pulse duration, while Superpulse mode provides a bunch of ultra-pulse-shaped beams that, at the beginning of the pulse, produce a burst of energy, And gradually diminish the duration of the pulse throughout.
UltraPulse mode produces high-energy pulses of short duration and is especially useful for applications requiring minimal thermal damage and layer-by-layer ablation, such as improving enlarged pores, skin texture and acne scar.
Fractional CO2 Laser is good option if you wish to get the most results with one treatment. Fractional CO2 Laser is an in-office procedure that requires pre and post-treatment medications to ensure proper healing and comfort during the procedure. Discomfort varies on the depth of the treatment. For your comfort during the treatment, we may apply a topical anesthetic or inject local anesthetic and prescribe oral analgesic to reduce discomfort. After the treatment most patients describe the post-procedure feeling as a bad sunburn for about 12 hours to 2 days. Please also follow the instructions for all other prescribed pain medication is needed post treatment. We also recommend pain or relaxation medications prior to treatment therefore you will need to have somebody drive you home after treatment.
Typically multiple treatments with Fractional CO2 Laser separated by every 4-6 weeks is recommended. Occasionally, in an area that cannot be treated aggressively, we may need to have more treatment sessions to optimize results. Maintenance treatments may also be necessary to maintain results, especially if sun is not avoided or proper skin care used. Occasionally, even with the best care, another treatment course may be necessary in a few years (in the area around the eyes, it may only be 1-2 years).