Fractional CO2 Laser: 14 Essential Things You Should Know About This Acne Scar Treatment — Skin MD - Dermatologist in Ortigas, Pasig (2023)

Having acne often gets in the way during the big days of your life—whether it’s your most-awaited job interview or your first date with someone you like. Aside from making you feel insecure, acne can also hurt and, in the worst cases, leave stubborn marks and redness.

Fortunately, you don’t have to live with unsightly acne scars. There are already treatments nowadays that can eliminate them, leaving your face pimple-free and flawless. One of these safe and effective procedures is the Fractional CO2 Laser. It involves the removal of the outer layers of the skin through laser which reveals the fresh and glowing skin underneath.

Want to learn more about how it can solve your skin problems? To get you started, here’s everything you need to know about Fractional CO2 Laser from the procedure to the benefits, and even after-care treatment.

Your Essential Guide to Fractional CO2 Laser

1. What is Fractional CO2 Laser?

Fractional CO2 laser is a type of skin treatment used by dermatologists or physicians to reduce the appearance of acne scars, deep wrinkles, and other skin irregularities. It is a non-invasive procedure that uses laser, specially made of carbon dioxide, to remove the outer layers of damaged skin.

2. What Does Fractional CO2 Laser Treat?

Fractional CO2 laser is commonly used to treat acne scars. However, it can also tend to a wide range of skin problems such as:

The procedure is often done to the face, but the neck, hands, and arms are just a few of the areas that the laser could treat.

3. Who Should Get Fractional CO2 Laser?

Fractional CO2 laser is ideal for people who like to minimize the appearance of acne scarring, fine lines, pigmentation, and other skin conditions listed above. Dermatologists also recommend undergoing the procedure if you suffer from a non-responsive skin after a bad facelift.

4. Who Should Avoid Fractional CO2 Laser?

Unfortunately, the fractional CO2 laser is not for everyone. Individuals with extensive breakouts, open wounds, or any infections on the face are advised to stay away from this skin procedure. People who take oral isotretinoin should also avoid the procedure as it poses a risk for health and safety.

If you have chronic medical conditions (such as diabetes), you should also take extra caution and make it a point to consult a doctor or dermatologist first.

Having said all of these things, it’s vital that you schedule a consultation with a dermatologist in order for them to assess whether you are qualified for the procedure or not.

5. How is the Fractional CO2 Laser Procedure Done?

The fractional CO2 laser is often done by applying a local anesthetic cream to the problem area 30 to 45 minutes prior. The procedure itself lasts for only 15 to 20 minutes.

It uses short-pulsed light energy (known as ultra pulse) that is continuously blasted through a scanning pattern in order to remove thin, outer layers of damaged skin.

Once the dead skin cells are eliminated, the procedure activates the production of multiple microthermal zones that reaches deep into the skin. Through this, it can stimulate your body’s natural healing process and boost collagen production. This ultimately replaces the old, damaged cells with new, healthy skin.

6. What Do I Need to Do Before Fractional CO2 Laser?

Before undergoing a fractional CO2 laser procedure, it’s recommended to follow these pre-treatment rules.

  • Don’t use products containing retinoids as it can affect the end results.

  • Avoid excessive sun exposure 2 weeks prior to the laser treatment.

  • Stop taking medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and even vitamin E as this can lead to prolonged clotting.

  • Consult your dermatologist to find out if you’re a good candidate for the fractional CO2 laser treatment.

7. Is There Any Downtime?

Thanks to the fractional technology used during the procedure, healthy tissues underneath the skin can still be found just in between the microthermal zones where heat was applied. These healthy tissues are able to provide the cells and proteins required to quickly heal the skin.

As a result, patients only have to undergo shorter recovery periods—lasting for 5 to 7 days.

8. Does Fractional CO2 Laser Hurt?

Most patients would find the pain minimal and often describe the sensation similar to prickling. However, since the procedure involves applying anesthesia to the area, your face would be numb which ensures a painless treatment.

9. Are There Any Side Effects?

Since the fractional CO2 laser procedure introduces heat (through the laser) into the skin, patients may find some redness or swelling in the treated area. Some may even experience discomfort and scabs.

In rare and worst cases, you may see the following complications after the skin treatment:

  • Prolonged erythema - Redness is expected after the fractional CO2 laser procedure but it usually heals within three to four days. If redness hasn’t ceased after a month, you might be suffering from prolonged erythema.

  • Hyperpigmentation - Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is most commonly experienced by patients with darker skin. It usually occurs after an injury or inflammation of the skin.

  • Infections - Getting bacterial infections is rare with only a 0.1% chance in all treated cases. However, it’s still best to properly identify them and their treatments to avoid further complications.

Fortunately, the risk of getting these side effects could be minimized and completely eliminated by following some post-care tips that dermatologists recommend.

10. What Should I Do After Fractional CO2 Laser Procedure?

After the fractional CO2 laser procedure, you should apply sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Do make sure to also use a gentle cleanser and moisturizer twice a day and avoid any harsh products. It’s best to limit the use of makeup products as well because they can irritate the skin even more.

To ease the swelling around your face, you can try putting an ice pack or compress to the treated area in the first 24 to 48 hours after the fractional CO2 laser treatment. Apply ointment as necessary in order to prevent scabs from forming. Lastly, you may need to adjust your daily activities and avoid situations, such as swimming and workouts, where you can get an infection.

11. How Much is the Fractional CO2 Laser Treatment?

The price of the fractional CO2 laser procedure in the Philippines varies depending on the skincare practitioner you opt to get your treatment from. In general, they cost about ₱5,000 ($100) to ₱12,000 ($230) per session for your face.

12. Are the Results of the Fractional CO2 Laser Instantaneous?

The results of the skin treatment will depend on the problem you are targeting. For instance, if you’d like to get rid of hyperpigmentation, you can instantly see results in only one session. However, when eliminating acne scars and fine lines, it may take a while for the results to show up.

13. Do I Need to Undergo Multiple Fractional CO2 Laser Treatments?

Again, depending on the severity of your skin condition, you may need to undergo about one to three sessions. These treatments can be done at four to six-weekly intervals.

14. Where Can I Get Fractional CO2 Laser?

You can get the fractional CO2 laser treatment at various skin clinics. However, given the delicate nature of the procedure, it’s best to work with board-certified dermatologists that can ensure the process is safe and effective. Always avoid settling for the first clinic you see as they often lack the knowledge and experience for a successful treatment.

ALSO READ: 7 Types Of Facial Treatments That Will Restore Your Glow

The fractional CO2 laser is a non-surgical treatment that targets your acne scars, fine lines, and other skin concerns with minimal downtime. It involves eliminating the outer layer of damaged skin which stimulates collagen production for firmer, healthy, and younger-looking skin. After the very short (15-20 minute) procedure, you can instantly go back to your daily activities and face the day with newfound confidence!

If you want to know more or are interested in getting this skin treatment, our dermatology clinic in Ortigas can assist you in whatever concerns you may have. Contact us today to get started!

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FAQs

Is CO2 laser worth it for acne scars? ›

The revolutionary CO2 fractional laser is a great treatment for those patients who are suffering from severe sun damage, deeper wrinkles, uneven tone and texture, as well as acne scars. It also offers the benefits of skin tightening, a smooth and even complexion, and a radiant glow with just one session.

Can CO2 fractional laser remove acne scars? ›

Fractional CO2 laser is a type of skin treatment used by dermatologists or physicians to reduce the appearance of acne scars, deep wrinkles, and other skin irregularities. It is a non-invasive procedure that uses laser, specially made of carbon dioxide, to remove the outer layers of damaged skin.

How long does it take for acne scars to fade after CO2 laser? ›

Answer: How long will it take to see results for CO2 Acne scar treatment? It can certainly take at least several months until you see the full improvement following a CO2 laser treatment. Improvement can go on for at least the first six months.

How many sessions of fractional CO2 are needed for acne scars? ›

The number of treatments for CO2 laser for acne scars mainly depends on the severity of the condition and the extent of the acne scars. Typically, patients undergo 1 to 3 sessions on average, which can be carried out at 4 to 6 weekly intervals.

What can go wrong with CO2 laser? ›

These complications included patchy erythema, demarcation zones, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, acne, scarring, herpes infection, bacterial infection, Candida infection, allergic contact dermatitis, irritant dermatitis, ectropion, and lack of desired result.

How long after CO2 laser will I see results? ›

Clients will see results gradually continue to improve for months, with full results seen 3-6 months after treatment.

How long does CO2 laser take to heal? ›

After CO2 laser treatment, it usually takes about 1 to 2 weeks for your skin to heal. Your skin will be very sensitive during this time.

Are CO2 laser results permanent? ›

The skin will continue to improve for several months after the QuadraLASE Fractional CO2 Laser Skin treatment. And, the results are permanent. Your skin is very important to the Dermatology Institute of Southern California, especially the very delicate neck area.

When can I wash my face after CO2 laser? ›

You may want to wait 72 hours after skin treatment before you start washing your face. Use a gentle, fragrance-free soap to clean the area and pat it dry. You can use a cool compress if you experience any swelling or discomfort. You can also use a light moisturizer if your skin feels dry or tight.

When does skin start peeling after Co2 laser? ›

Answer: Post Co2 Laser Peeling

There may be some peeling between day 3 which may last up to 10 days post procedure. The peeling could come off with regular use of moisturizers (aquaphor) or face washing.

How can I speed up healing after Co2 laser? ›

Keeping your face well hydrated after receiving laser skin resurfacing can help alleviate this with the use of doctor-approved moisturizing creams or lotions. Hydrating your skin will not only allow your skin to be more elastic and heal faster but also offers a degree of comfort as you contract facial muscles.

How long does it take for skin to peel after Co2 laser? ›

Skin peeling is expected after fractional laser treatments. This is the old superficial layer of skin peeling off to reveal the fresh new skin underneath. Peeling usually starts about 3 days post treatment and is gone by 7 to 10 days.

Does CO2 laser leave scars? ›

Cosmetic Medicine

The two most notable and well documented side effects of CO2 laser resurfacing are scarring and delayed onset hypopigmentation.

How many sessions of CO2 laser are needed? ›

Q: How often should you get a CO2 laser? A: Three to five sessions are required if you want to get rid of wrinkles or acne scarring. Sessions for both acne and wrinkles should be spaced out four weeks apart. You should schedule sessions six to eight weeks apart to reduce photo damage.

How many laser sessions does it take to remove acne scars? ›

Powerful laser treatments can fade mild acne scars in as little as a single appointment, while other energy-based treatments, such as IPL, may require several sessions to visibly improve your appearance. Laser and light treatments may require anywhere from three to six treatments to significantly reduce acne scars.

How do you sleep after CO2 laser? ›

After Surgery

This can be done by either sleeping in a recliner tilted at 45 degrees or sleeping with two pillows underneath your head. Avoid rolling onto your face. Sleeping on your back for the first two weeks helps to ensure this. Following your laser procedure, a Silon dressing will be applied over your face.

Can CO2 laser make acne scars worse? ›

Answer: CO2 and scars - Dr Davin Lim

Your dermatologist is correct, CO2 will certainly make PIE or red scars worse, and hence the logic in performing RF microneedling. The other option is to use vascular lasers such as Prima or V Beam, or even IPL- BBL to address the redness.

Is it normal to breakout after CO2 laser? ›

Acne flares may occur after laser resurfacing. This may resolve on its own, or can be treated with conventional acne therapies. Hyperpigmentation, and more rarely, hypopigmentation, may result in the laser-treated areas.

How long does it take for redness to go away after CO2 laser? ›

For most fractionated CO2 treatments, treatment redness is expected to fade to a light pink and then resolve within several weeks to 2 or 3 months. For full field CO2 laser resurfacing, redness takes longer to resolve and some pink may still be noticeable 4-6 months after treatment.

When do you stop aquaphor after CO2 laser? ›

Aquaphor Ointment until the area heals. Do not pick. Discontinue Aquaphor after 5 days (applying Aquaphor for more than 5 days can plug up your pores and lead to an acne-like breakout), switching to a gentle moisturizer like Moisturel.

How long does it take for collagen to rebuild after laser? ›

The skin naturally produces new skin cells and fresh collagen strands. The micro-injuries created by the laser are sufficiently healed so you can apply makeup within five to seven days, but the collagen production continues for six months or longer – reducing the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and creases.

Is CO2 laser painful? ›

The whole treatment took only about 20 minutes and was not too painful. The treated areas felt hot and tight, like a very bad sunburn. Things I liked: The PA was tapping my head throughout the procedure.

Why does my skin itch after CO2 laser? ›

It is not uncommon to experience some itching as the treated skin heals. This commonly occurs between 5 to 7 days. Hydrocortisone cream may be applied to the itchy areas before applying the ointment.

What should I avoid after laser treatment? ›

Here's what to avoid:
  • Avoid exposing skin to UV light (sunlight or sunbeds) or self-tan for at least 2 weeks after treatment. ...
  • Avoid heat treatments such as spas, steam rooms and saunas for 7 days.
  • Avoid excessive scrubbing or applying pressure to the skin for 4-5 days.

Is CO2 laser better than Fraxel? ›

Either laser can be used to treat acne scars, wrinkles, sun damage, or texture. But Fractional CO2 is our first choice for sun damage, wrinkles, and texture while the Fraxel laser is our first choice for acne scars. These choices are purely based on which laser is more effective for each condition.

What should I put on my face after CO2 laser? ›

Immediately after your CO2RE Laser Resurfacing your skin will feel warm and sensitive to the touch. It is important to keep the skin covered with a protective gel (such as Aquaphor) at all times immediately after your treatment. Plan on an immediate recovery period of 5 to 10 days.

Which laser is best for acne scars? ›

The best lasers for the treatment of acne scars are the fractionated resurfacing lasers. The fractional CO2 laser therapy is the most aggressive laser acne scar treatment available today and produces excellent results in one treatment.

How many hours after laser can I shower? ›

To limit skin irritation after laser hair removal, you shouldn't take a hot shower or a hot bath for 48 hours. If you want to bathe or shower, keep the water at a lukewarm temperature. This is because you want to avoid excess heat on the targeted areas of your laser treatment.

Can I wear mask after CO2 laser? ›

It is possible that you may be using some sort of ointment on the treated area after your CO2 laser procedure. You should be able to wear a mask afterwards, but the mask may stick to the ointment.

Why do vinegar soaks after CO2 laser? ›

Ways to Speed Healing:

o Re-apply frequently as needed to maintain a continuous layer on your skin • Soak the treated skin with a plain white vinegar solution 4 to 8 times each day. o You can't soak too much. Soaking reduces redness and speeds healing! Do not pick, rub, scrub or irritate your skin while it is healing.

Can you wear sunscreen after CO2 laser? ›

Following your laser treatment, it's best to avoid sun exposure for 7-14 days and to wear sunscreen — even if you plan to stay indoors. Though you may associate sunscreen with extended periods outside, it's just as important to protect yourself from the sun while inside.

Can I drink alcohol after CO2 laser? ›

Please refrain from tobacco products and alcohol for 2 weeks prior and 1 week following surgery. Delayed wound healing, persistent skin redness and other complications may persist when tobacco and alcohol are not discontinued.

How long does pigmentation take to fade after laser? ›

The treatment is quick and effective and causes minimal damage to the surrounding skin tissue. Patients will see results in around 7-10 days.

How do you speed up the healing of a fractional laser? ›

How to Heal Faster After Laser Skin Resurfacing
  1. Apply Sunscreen. Once your skin has healed, sunscreen will be an essential every day. ...
  2. Moisturize. Apply a generous amount of moisturizer to your skin each day to facilitate the healing process and to reduce the dryness and itching. ...
  3. Avoid Infections. ...
  4. Avoid Irritating the Skin.
2 May 2022

Do you need anesthesia for CO2 laser? ›

The carbon dioxide (CO2 ) laser, on the other hand, requires an injected anesthetic. This is true for both conventional and fractional CO2 laser resurfacing. In most cases the CO2 laser is used for resurfacing the entire face.

How long does CO2 laser resurfacing results last? ›

On average, patients can expect laser skin resurfacing results to last anywhere from 3-5 years from having the procedure done. It's possible for patients to extend their results beyond five years.

Can I use Vaseline after CO2 laser? ›

The manufacturer of CO2 laser systems recommends the application of Vaseline postoperatively to protect the treated tissue from air exposition until encrustation of the laser-treated skin decreases (usually after 7-14 days).

How many times can you laser your face? ›

It Depends on the Type of Laser Used

Fractional lasers generally require one to three treatments to achieve the look you want. If you need multiple treatments, it's recommended to set the sessions two weeks apart. Scheduling them as close together will help in maximizing the desired results within a short period.

How long does it take for your face to heal after laser treatment? ›

New skin usually covers the area in one or two weeks and full recovery takes at least a month. During this time do not use products that may irritate your face, such as cosmetics. And avoid situations that increase your risk of infection, such as public whirlpools.

Why is my face breaking out after CO2 laser resurfacing? ›

Some patients may experience breakouts after Fraxel treatment. Breakouts occur due to the quick skin turnover. You will require antibiotics if you're dealing with whiteheads or other signs of a breakout in the treated area. Antibiotics can reduce the breakout issue and make it easier for your skin to recover.

Can I use retinol after CO2 laser? ›

Aside from makeup, it's also essential that any products containing retinol or glycolic acid are avoided after laser sessions, as they can irritate the skin.

How do you prevent hyperpigmentation after CO2 laser? ›

Answer: Hyperpigmentation after Laser Resurfacing

Use a strong sunscreen daily and reapply it every 2 hours. Also us a bleaching agent and consider intense pulsed light treatments.

What should I avoid after CO2 laser? ›

After the fractional CO2 laser procedure, you should apply sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays. Do make sure to also use a gentle cleanser and moisturizer twice a day and avoid any harsh products. It's best to limit the use of makeup products as well because they can irritate the skin even more.

Is fractional CO2 laser worth it? ›

The revolutionary CO2 fractional laser is a great treatment for those patients who are suffering from severe sun damage, deeper wrinkles, uneven tone and texture, as well as acne scars. It also offers the benefits of skin tightening, a smooth and even complexion, and a radiant glow with just one session.

Which is the best fractional CO2 laser? ›

The best fractional CO2 lasers are the Fraxel Re: pair, MiXto laser, TotalFX and Matrix CO2.

Does acne come back after laser treatment? ›

Answer: Acne Can Return After Laser Treatment

Light- and laser-based treatments won't cure active acne, so you may see additional breakouts after a laser procedure. Laser treatments may temporarily worsen acne, but they can ultimately be beneficial for many patients.

How many sessions of fractional CO2 are needed for acne scars? ›

The number of treatments for CO2 laser for acne scars mainly depends on the severity of the condition and the extent of the acne scars. Typically, patients undergo 1 to 3 sessions on average, which can be carried out at 4 to 6 weekly intervals.

Can laser cure acne permanently? ›

Most people see clearing, but it's not 100%. Studies show that lasers and other light treatments can reduce acne. Rarely can these treatments alone clear acne. To give you the best results, your dermatologist may recommend using another acne treatment, such as medicine that you apply to your skin.

How many CO2 laser treatments are needed for scars? ›

It typically needs at least 1 to 3 treatments, depending upon the severity of acne scars, skin color, downtime etc.

Which laser is best for acne scars? ›

The best lasers for the treatment of acne scars are the fractionated resurfacing lasers. The fractional CO2 laser therapy is the most aggressive laser acne scar treatment available today and produces excellent results in one treatment.

Can CO2 laser remove scars? ›

Candidates for CO2 Laser Resurfacing

CO2 laser resurfacing is an excellent treatment for a wide range of scars, from mild cosmetic issues to traumatic scars that seriously affect your daily activity. It can be used not only on the face but on other areas of the body.

Are CO2 laser results permanent? ›

The skin will continue to improve for several months after the QuadraLASE Fractional CO2 Laser Skin treatment. And, the results are permanent. Your skin is very important to the Dermatology Institute of Southern California, especially the very delicate neck area.

How long after CO2 laser can I wash my face? ›

Apply the cleanser gently on the face and avoid excessive hard rubbing. Use lukewarm water to wash the face. The first 3 days wash the face at least 3 times a day or more if there is excessive oozing. From day 4 you can start to wash the face twice daily or again more often if there is continuous oozing in-between.

Is CO2 laser painful? ›

The whole treatment took only about 20 minutes and was not too painful. The treated areas felt hot and tight, like a very bad sunburn. Things I liked: The PA was tapping my head throughout the procedure.

How can I speed up healing after CO2 laser? ›

Keeping your face well hydrated after receiving laser skin resurfacing can help alleviate this with the use of doctor-approved moisturizing creams or lotions. Hydrating your skin will not only allow your skin to be more elastic and heal faster but also offers a degree of comfort as you contract facial muscles.

How many laser sessions does it take to remove acne scars? ›

Powerful laser treatments can fade mild acne scars in as little as a single appointment, while other energy-based treatments, such as IPL, may require several sessions to visibly improve your appearance. Laser and light treatments may require anywhere from three to six treatments to significantly reduce acne scars.

What is the most effective acne scar treatment? ›

Salicylic acid

It's considered to be one of the best treatments for acne scars. You can add products with salicylic acid into your daily routine, or your skin care specialist may use it for less frequent chemical peels. It might take a few weeks to see a difference when using salicylic acid.

Which laser is best for scar removal? ›

Ablative laser resurfacing, with CO2 or Er: YAG lasers, has been shown to be effective for traumatic and surgical scars, especially when resurfaced within 6 to 10 weeks after trauma or surgery or even immediately after surgery.

How long does CO2 laser take to heal? ›

After CO2 laser treatment, it usually takes about 1 to 2 weeks for your skin to heal. Your skin will be very sensitive during this time.

How do you keep a laser burn from scarring? ›

How to prevent scars
  1. rinse the burn with cool or lukewarm water, then let the skin air dry.
  2. apply antibiotic anointment, using a sterilized applicator to help prevent infection.
  3. cover the burn with a nonstick bandage, held in place with gauze.
  4. seek medical care if the wound is getting redder instead of healing.

Does laser treatment remove acne scars permanently? ›

The results of your treatment won't be visible right away. Within 7 to 10 days, you'll start to see how well the treatment worked to reduce the appearance of acne scars. Results of this treatment are permanent.

When does skin start peeling after CO2 laser? ›

Answer: Post Co2 Laser Peeling

There may be some peeling between day 3 which may last up to 10 days post procedure. The peeling could come off with regular use of moisturizers (aquaphor) or face washing.

Is CO2 laser better than Fraxel? ›

Either laser can be used to treat acne scars, wrinkles, sun damage, or texture. But Fractional CO2 is our first choice for sun damage, wrinkles, and texture while the Fraxel laser is our first choice for acne scars. These choices are purely based on which laser is more effective for each condition.

What should I put on my face after CO2 laser? ›

Immediately after your CO2RE Laser Resurfacing your skin will feel warm and sensitive to the touch. It is important to keep the skin covered with a protective gel (such as Aquaphor) at all times immediately after your treatment. Plan on an immediate recovery period of 5 to 10 days.

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