If you have fine lines or wrinkles around your eyes or mouth or on your forehead, shallow scars from acne, or non-responsive skin after a facelift, you may think there is nothing more to be done. CO2 laser resurfacing is a treatment to reduce facial wrinkles and skin irregularities, such as blemishes or acne scars.
Performed in Dr. O’Brien’s St. Petersburg office laser resurfacing directs short, concentrated pulsating beams of light at irregular skin, precisely removing skin, layer by layer. This popular procedure is also called lasabrasion, laser peel, or laser vaporization.
Who is a good candidate for laser resurfacing?
If you have acne or if you have very dark skin, you may not be a candidate. This technique is also not recommended for stretch marks. You should discuss whether laser resurfacing is right for you by consulting with Dr. O’Brien before having the procedure done.
How does laser skin resurfacing work?
CO2 laser resurfacing has been used for years to treat different skin issues, including wrinkles, scars, warts, enlarged oil glands on the nose, and other conditions.
The newest version of CO2 laser resurfacing (fractionated CO2) uses very short pulsed light energy (known as ultrapulse) or continuous light beams that are delivered in a scanning pattern to remove thin layers of skin with minimal heat damage. Recovery takes up to two weeks.
What to Expect
Generally, laser resurfacing is an outpatient procedure. Dr. O’Brien may treat individual wrinkles around your eyes, mouth, or forehead or treat your entire face. For small areas, he will numb the areas to be treated with a local anesthetic. He may also sedate you to ensure a comfortable procedure.
If Dr. O’Brien is just treating parts of your face, the procedure will take about 30 to 45 minutes. A full-face treatment may take up to two hours.
Following the laser procedure, he will bandage the treated area. Starting 24 hours after treatment, you will need to clean the treated area four to five times a day. Then you’ll need to apply an ointment, such as petroleum jelly, to prevent scabs from forming. This wound care is intended to prevent any scab formation. In general, the areas heal in 10 to 21 days, depending on the condition that was treated.
It’s normal to have swelling after laser skin resurfacing. Dr. O’Brien may prescribe steroids to manage swelling around your eyes. Sleeping on an extra pillow at night to elevate your head can help ease swelling. Putting an ice pack on the treated area also helps to reduce swelling in the first 24 to 48 hours after laser resurfacing.
You may feel itching or stinging for 12 to 72 hours after the procedure. Five to seven days after laser resurfacing, your skin will become dry and peel.
Once the skin heals, you can wear oil-free makeup to minimize redness, which usually fades within one or two weeks following your procedure.
You will probably notice that your skin is lighter for a while after surgery. It is particularly important that you use a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen, which screens ultraviolet B and ultraviolet A rays, to protect your skin during that time.