What Is CO2 Laser And How Does It Work On The Skin?



There are many skin problems that can’t be corrected with over-the-counter skin care products. These products also contain chemicals that pose serious problems like acne outbreaks and pigmentation.

If you want to get clear and smooth skin without using those OTC skincare products then you can go for CO2 laser treatment. Wondering what exactly the CO2 (Carbon dioxide) laser is and how it works on your skin? Also curious about what to expect after the treatment and are you a good candidate to undergo this treatment.

Let’s dive in to answer all your questions about CO2 laser treatment.

  • What is CO2 laser treatment? 

CO2 laser treatment is an ablative laser treatment that is used by many advanced skin clinics. It works in your skin to make it firmer and smoother.

It is performed by expert dermatologists or physicians who are well-trained. They guide you through the whole procedure and make sure you feel comfortable throughout. They also recommend good aftercare to help you see results faster and without any side effects.

CO2 laser treatment is a cosmetic procedure to treat your skin problems. But not everyone can opt for this laser treatment.

  • Who is a good candidate for CO2 laser?

As the CO2 laser involves the ablative treatment, the outermost layer of skin is removed and the laser works in deeper layers. So acne-prone skin isn’t suitable to undergo CO2 laser treatment.

It was also thought that darker skin tone isn’t suitable for CO2 laser treatment because of a risk of hyperpigmentation. But recently, the American Board of Cosmetics Surgeons (ABCS) has proved that it’s just a misconception that laser treatment is just for lighter skin tones. If done right, anyone can get the benefits of CO2.

The CO2 laser can be used to treat the following skin conditions:

  • Fine lines
  • Wrinkles
  • Age spots
  • Warts
  • Sagging skin
  • Uneven skin tone
  • Acne scars
  • Crow’s feet

You have to consult a dermatologist who does CO2 laser treatment to find out whether you’re a suitable candidate. It not only depends on your present condition but also on your medical history.

  • How does CO2 laser work for skin resurfacing 

The laser removes the outermost layer of the skin and heats the deeper layers. So all the skin layers are involved. The laser stimulates skin cells to produce collagen that makes skin firmer and smoother. That is why CO2 is very effective to remove fine lines and treat sagging skin.

The procedure involves:

  • Pre-treatment care: Before the treatment, your doctor will call you several times to treat your skin and make it ready for laser exposure. All the layers of the skin have to be treated so it’s important to prepare it for that.
  • Cleansing: On the treatment day, your skin will be deeply cleaned to remove oil and dust particles.
  • Treatment: Your doctor will apply a topical anesthetic to make you feel comfortable. The laser is applied to the area that has to be treated. The laser is moved slowly on the skin for a certain time.
  • Dressing: The treated area is then dressed in wraps to protect the sensitive skin from any infections and sun/heat exposure.
  • Aftercare rituals 

Once your treatment is done, your doctor will prescribe medicines to relieve pain and saline or vinegar-based cleansers. Aftercare involves:

  • Cleansing 

You have to make sure you keep the treated area well-cleansed. You can cleanse your skin with vinegar or saline-based cleanser, prescribed by your doctor.

It’s recommended to cleanse your skin four to five times per day.

  • Avoiding sun and heat exposure 

The skin gets very sensitive after laser treatment. So you have to take care of it and make sure you aren’t exposing the treated area to sun and heat.

Always wear sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 before going out. You’ve to follow this routine for a year or as recommended by your doctor.

  • Side effects of CO2 laser on skin

The CO2 laser is a cosmetic procedure to correct various skin conditions. So like any other cosmetic procedure, it also has some side effects.

These side effects can be reduced greatly by following the instructions of your doctor religiously and taking good care of your skin before and after the treatment.

The side effects include:

  • Swelling
  • Burning
  • Rashes
  • Redness
  • Scars
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Infections

Note that you can greatly reduce the risk of these side effects with proper care regimens.

  • What to expect after the treatment 

What would be the result of CO2 laser treatment and how fast you’ll be able to see the results? Well, it depends on your skin condition and various other factors (aftercare and weather).

But mostly you get to see the results right after the first session. Sometimes it only takes a single session to treat a skin condition that is mild yet. After the treatment, you’ll notice that the skin has become sensitive to heat. So you have to take proper care of it. Your skin will visibly be firmer and smoother. Usually, fine lines disappear right after the first session. Having said that, you have to be patient and wait for the positive change with proper care.

Healing usually takes up to three weeks. But CO2 laser hasn’t been classified as surgical treatment. So you can leave your doctor’s office right after the treatment is done.

Your doctor will guide you about what to expect and how many sessions it will take to notice the positive impact of this laser treatment.

  • The Takeaway 

CO2 laser treatment is a cosmetic skincare procedure to treat fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, sagging skin, and other skin-related conditions. Usually, these skin conditions can’t be corrected with OTC products without harmful side effects.

The whole process involves preparing the skin for laser exposure, cleansing, laser procedure, bandage, and aftercare. The side effects are also there but you can minimize them by taking proper care of the affected area.

An expert dermatologist or physician will guide you through the whole process and you’ll be able to get smooth, firm, youthful, and clear skin with CO2 laser treatment.


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