Fractional CO2 laser

Fractional CO2 laser is used for skin tightening, rejuvenation and treatment of all types of scars. This type of laser have possibility that in one or two treatment sessions deliver results equivalent to 4-6 treatments with any other laser.

Ablative lasers used for rejuvenation and scar treatments used to require long recovery periods and carried high skin damage risks. The use of fractional CO2 lasers enables minimal skin damage, because during fractional treatment leaves areas of untreated skin between microscopic areas with thermal damage. Fraction lasers are much safer, more efficient and reliable for the patient.

fraxel laser neck

The Cortex fractional CO2 laser incorporates an ideal combination of two laser systems – the CO2 and Erbium/YAG, which enable skin regeneration.

The Erbium/YAG laser enables:
1. Superficial tightening and regeneration of the skin
2. Removal of fine lines and wrinkles
3. Facial peeling
4. Removal of enlarged skin pores

The Fractional CO2 laser enables:
1. Deep tightening and regeneration of the skin due to strong collagen stimulation
2. Treatment of acne scars
3. Treatment of all other scars resulting from injuries and interventions
4. Treatment of stretch marks and keloids
5. Treatment of discoloration, keratosis and photo-damaged skin
6. Removal of enlarged skin pores

The fractional CO2 laser provides deep skin stimulation and tightening, and the Erbium/YAG laser provides the possibility of superficial skin regeneration. The combination of these two modalities provides full precision and safety of treatment, and gives vast possibilities for resolving different skin problems.

How does the fractional CO2 laser affect the skin?

The Cortex fractional CO2 laser emits light with a 10,600nm wavelength, which strongly absorbs water from the deeper layers of the skin. Each laser pulse enables the evaporation of microscopic parts of the skin in the medium layers, leaving areas of untreated skin in between. The microscopic thermal damage in medium skin layers leads to strong collagen synthesis as well as to its remodeling. This principle of fractional redistribution of energy enables faster skin healing so that recovery time after treatment is minimized.

What can be achieved with a fractional CO2 laser?

With the combination of the two modalities of this laser, the fractional CO2 and the Erbium/YAG, individualized effects tailored to each patient can be achieved. Different combinations are possible:

  • Deep tightening and regeneration of the skin with the fractional CO2 laser, after which the Erbium laser is used for superficial removal of the zone of thermal necrosis, faster healing, shorter period of skin scaling, swelling and itching after the fractional CO2 treatment.
  • Treatment of uneven skin tone and lentigo (pigmented spots) is done first with the fractional CO2 treatment, followed by the Erbium/YAG for superficial removal.
  • Patients with mid-depth wrinkles in their 50-ies, with signs of photodamage of the skin, with dyschromia, can achieve the effects of a surgical face-lift with the use of both modalities of the laser.
  • Treatment of acne scars yields satisfactory results after only 3 treatments. All other types of scars and keloids are also efficiently treated.

What kind of preparation is needed before the laser treatment?

Sun exposure needs to be avoided, as well as exposure to all other laser treatments or chemical peels at least 3-4 weeks prior to the treatment. It is not to be used on patients on Roaccutane treatment. It is advised that patients with frequent herpes bouts have an anti-viral therapy beforehand. In order to reduce discomfort during treatment, lidocaine treatment is used on the areas to be treated one hour in advance.

How long is the recovery after the laser treatment?

Patients can expect the recovery to last around 8 days. After the treatment, on the:

  • 1st day – the skin will resemble sunburned skin
  • 2nd day – the skin becomes dry, bronzed and darker
  • 3rd day – skin flaking and itching begins
  • 4th day – same as the day before
  • 5th day – all symptoms of the peeling are fading. Make up can be used, mineral make up use is recommended
  • 6th and 7th day – the skin is back to normal, the flaking has ended
  • 8th and 9th day – skin redness has entirely disappeared.

Healing time for the neck area is normally somewhat longer. It takes about 2 to 3 weeks for a full recovery of the skin in this area. After the treatment, creams for regeneration and hydration of the skin are used at least 3 times per day. Cold compresses or ice can be used. Vinegar solution can be used for reducing the itching sensation (1 teaspoon of vinegar in 2 cups of water). Sun and heat should be avoided. Analgesics for reducing pain and discomfort after the treatment can be used.

How many laser treatments are needed?

Laser treatments are done every 3 months. It takes between 60 and 90 days to achieve the effects of synthesis of new collagen and remodeling of existing collagen. Usually, between 1 and 3 treatments are needed for achieving full effects of rejuvenation, scar treatments, or resolving other skin problems.

Spec. Dr. Sladjana Cvejic, dermatologist
Dermatological clinic DERMATIM, Belgrade

More about treatments with fractional CO2 laser read here.