CO2 laser resurfacing
Laser resurfacing with a CO2 or carbon dioxide laser is a treatment offered for the removal of skin blemishes and lesions such as raised birthmarks, moles, scarring from acne and sun-damaged skin.
Laser resurfacing has an established evidence base as an effective non-surgical way of improving the appearance of acne scars and other skin conditions. It is a cosmetic procedure which removes top layers of skin, called the epidermis, with less of a risk of creating a scar than surgery.
The laser exposes and heats the deeper layers of skin, called the dermis encouraging collagen protein production which aids the repair of damaged skin.
Procedures such as the laser resurfacing of skin on the face affected by acne scars is an established technique, with proven benefits but one requiring the skills of an experienced laser surgeon.
Patients with fine lines or wrinkles around the eyes, mouth or on the forehead, scars from acne, or non-responsive skin after a facelift, are good candidates for laser skin resurfacing. However those with active acne or very dark skin are unlikely to be suitable candidates, nor is this treatment recommended for stretch marks.
In general, the areas treated will heal in 10 to 21 days, depending on the nature of the condition that was treated and the power of the laser that was applied. During this period the skin will appear red and there may be some scabbing in places. Once the areas have healed, makeup may be worn to camouflage the pink to red skin colour in the treated areas which generally fades in two to three months but may take as long as six months to completely disappear. The redness generally persists longer in blondes and redheads.
Patients with darker skin tones have a greater risk of healing with darker pigmentation. This may be minimised by use of a skin lightener before laser skin resurfacing as well as continued use of this agent after healing.
In areas affected by acne in the past, there is a risk of acne returning to the treated area after laser treatment however using low dose antibiotics should help prevent this.