CO2 Laser Fractional Recovery: What to Expect

Fractional CO2 laser offers many great benefits: uses the gold standard CO2 laser for skin resurfacing and treats the effects of sun damage, aging facial skin, brown spots, skin discoloration and acne scars. It can tighten the skin, even out skin tone and color, remove fine lines and wrinkles, and reduce the size of large pores. One of the best things about the fractional CO2 laser: the downtime after the procedure is a fraction of the traditional CO2 laser.

Why is this? The traditional CO2 laser renews 100 percent of the skin it is applied to, requires a 2-week healing time, and can cause up to three months of significant redness. With modern computer technology, fractional laser procedures treat only a fraction of the skin. Because bridges of healthy, intact skin remain between the treated areas, downtime is significantly less. The stripping portion of the recovery is usually complete in around five days.

What can fractional CO2 laser patients expect in terms of recovery? Patients can go home immediately after the procedure and receive specific instructions on how to care for their skin. Many patients claim that they experience a sunburn sensation for about two hours after the procedure is complete. However, once this goes away, there is usually no pain.

For three to five days after the procedure, the skin will gently peel and flake off. During this time, patients keep their skin moisturized with a Vaseline-type ointment. This allows for the best possible healing. After the skin is peeled, patients can use makeup to cover any redness. Your doctor will give you permission to do so when the time is right.

Patients should avoid strenuous exercise and bending, stooping, heavy lifting, or straining for at least three days after the procedure. They should sleep with their face elevated above their heart for the first day after the procedure.

Immediately after the initial five-day healing phase is complete, patients see a gradual improvement in their skin. This is because the laser stimulates the production of collagen in the deep layer of the skin; helping to fill in the fine lines of the face. Collagen buildup can take up to six months to complete.

Sun exposure should be avoided and sunscreen used at all times after laser skin resurfacing. Please discuss this with your doctor, as the amount of time will vary depending on how you heal and the type of treatment you received.

Only one treatment is needed for most patients and the final results are permanent.

Because each patient wants different results and everyone has different skin types, it is very important to work with a physician who is highly experienced in fractional CO2 laser procedures. It is essential that the clinician is experienced in using very precise movements when sequentially applying the laser to the skin of the face, neck and/or décolleté. Always listen to your doctor’s instructions after your laser, as it will vary depending on the type of laser, the type of treatment, your healing, your skin, and the doctor’s preference.

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