The fractional CO2 laser takes the CO2 laser beam and fractionates, or pixellates that beam into 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.
That depends on how well you protect your skin from the sun and other factors that cause ageing. Such variables include your general health, smoking, changes in weight, etc. If you apply a good quality sunscreen and are sensible about your sun exposure, you can maintain the good effects of your CO2 laser treatment for several years.
Bear in mind that fractional CO2 laser can be customised. Treatments can be deeper, with more healing and downtime, or shallower, with less healing time. The deeper the treatment, the better the results generally. 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 around 4 to 6 weeks after that when your skin might be slightly pink. This can be covered up with make-up if required. During this period, your skin will feel smoother and looks less blotchy. As the colour returns to normal, you will see fewer lines, less blotchiness, and more glow.
During the first 24 hours after treatment, your skin may feel as though it is sunburned. A water mist spray can be used to alleviate some discomfort. Your skin will peel for 2-7 days and will be pink for 3 to 6 weeks. This healing all depends on how deep your treatment is. After a week or so, you can wear make-up to cover the pink. Rarely, bruising may develop, which can take up to two weeks to resolve.
No, you will need to take the rest of that day off. For the lighter fractional CO2 treatments, you will need around 3-5 days of downtime. For the deeper treatments, plan on 7-10 days of healing before you can go out in public.
The number depends on the extent of your sun damage, scarring or wrinkles, and on how much downtime you can accept. If you can tolerate 7 days of downtime, you would generally need only 1 or 2 fractional CO2 treatment.
Reasons not to do a fractional laser treatment may include use of medications that increase photosensitivity, use of anticoagulants, use of Accutane in the last year, chemotherapy, history of difficulty healing or scarring, history of bleeding disorders, and pregnancy.