Most Commonly Asked Questions Regarding the CO2 Facial Resurfacing Laser Surgery

The carbon dioxide laser has become a popular instrument in dermatological surgery. This laser delivers very high energy, which allows clean, layer by layer vaporization of skin without accumulation of heat in the adjacent tissues. This results in extreme precision with minimal risk of scarring and faster healing time.

The CO2 laser precisely removes tissues, layer by layer, permitting clear definition of landmarks and optimal depth control , a valuable tool for treating facial wrinkles, sunspots and scars from acne or old injuries.

  1. What can the CO2 laser surgery improve?
    The CO2 laser can eliminate fine line wrinkles, scars from acne, sun damage, some birthmarks, some types of pre-cancerous skin conditions and hyperpigmentations. Different types of laser are required to treat broken capillaries, red spots, tattoos, melanoma or port wine birthmarks.

  2. How does laser remove fine lines and wrinkles?
    The laser provides an ultra-high energy pulse output that removes a thin layer of skin by vaporizing the surface epithelium. This acts to tighten the underlying collagen of the skin which reduces lines and wrinkles caused by loose top surface layers of skin.

  3. How long does the surgery take?
    Approximately 45 minutes are needed to treat the areas around the eyes (periorbital) and mouth (perioral) regions. Full face treatment usually requires an hour to an hour and a half.

  4. What will the treated area look like following surgery?
    The area treated by the laser will be initially very pink and oozing for the first 3-5 days following surgery. A honey coloured discharge and crust may develop. Usually by about 7-10 days the crusting has resolved from even the deepest areas treated.

  5. How long will the treated area remain pink?
    The treated area may remain pink for up to three months, depending on the depth of wrinkles treated and your original skin color. Usually this can be concealed by make-up after about one to two weeks.

  6. Is the surgery painful?
    Your doctor may give pre-operative medications that will allow you to be very comfortable during the surgery.

  7. Will there be pain following surgery?
    Pain and tolerance varies with each patient. Yes, there is going to be discomfort. Pain medications will be prescribed and can be taken as directed for the first 3-5 days. If needed, thereafter, Extra Strength Tylenol should be sufficient.

  8. Can laser remove age spots?
    Yes, depending on the depth of pigmentation, which can be determined by the doctor at the time of the consultation or examination.

  9. When can I return to work?
    It is suggested that most patients take 10-14 days.

  10. Do I have to stay out of the sun? For how long?
    Redness is a direct result of the surgery. The reason that you should not be exposed to the sunlight, is that the redness can turn brown, creating hyperpigmentation. You are instructed not to have sun exposure for 90 days. During that time, you will be instructed to use a #30 SPF when going outdoors. After the first 90 days, you will be instructed to use a #15 SPF for the remainder of the first year and hopefully you will choose it whenever you are exposed to the sun.

  11. When can I begin wearing make-up? Is there a specific brand I should use?
    Normally patients can begin wearing make-up 10-14 days after the laser treatment. Remember your complexion color will be changing on a day-to-day basis. We suggest using hypo allergenic skin care products and moisturisers containing as many natural ingredients as possible such as beeswax, mineral oil and titanium dioxide. There are mint, light and medium concealers that contain chromium green and ultramarine blue that can help camouflage the treated areas until you can revert back to your regular daily make-up. It is also important your skin care products contain SPF 15 sun protecting factor or greater.

  12. Why is it necessary to have Vaseline on the treated area following surgery?
    The Vaseline protects the treated area from contamination and trauma while maintaining a moist environment that helps to speed healing.

  13. What are the chances of scarring?
    The chances of scarring are extremely low with the C02 laser. The chances of scarring are much lower than with a chemical peel or dermabrasion.

  14. What areas of the skin can be treated with the CO2 laser?
    This particular laser, because it is predominantely absorbed by water, is ideal for resurfacing facial skin (90% water). The best results are seen with fine to moderate wrinkles (static wrinkles) around the eyes or mouth, acne or chicken pox scars or benign lesions. Areas currently treated with the laser include: around the eyes (periorbital), around the mouth (perioral), the cheeks, upper lip, forehead and full face.

  15. Are there risks of pigmentation changes with different skin tones or pore size? Yes, darker skinned individuals have an increased risk of pigmentary changes after surgery. Most pigmentary changes are temporary and a "patch" test behind the ear can be performed prior to surgery, to check for the possibility.

  16. How does this type of surgery differ from chemical peels or dermabrasion?
    Advantages of laser treatment include more precise control, no chemical or mechanical damage to the remaining tissues, more consistent results, less bruising and swelling and less risk of scarring and pigment changes.

  17. Can you have the C02 laser done if you've had dermabrasion or a facelift?
    Yes, with the approval of your doctor. Generally, we want you to wait at least six months after a facelift and at least one year after a dermabrasion.

    Note: If you have been using "Accutane" in the last two years, you will need to see your prescribing physician to get approval for the surgery. "Accutane" is an oral vitamin A that stops the production of sebum in the body.

  18. How long will the rejuvenation results last?
    Results vary depending on skin type, pigmentation, depth of wrinkles and general skin care following the laser treatment. Results should last up to several years.

  19. Can I get the same results from a full face laser treatment as I would from a facelift?
    The two procedures serve different purposes. Full face laser can be an alternative for patients who medically can not undergo traditional facelift procedures with acceptable results. But the full face laser is used to only remove the static wrinkles.

    A surgical facelift is performed to help restore drooping muscles underneath the skin, placing them back in the original position. Surgical facelifts do not remove fine static wrinkles and therefore, the two may be used together for the best cosmetic results.

  20. Can I have the surgery done more than once in the same area?
    The surgery can be repeated after a period of six months to one year.

  21. Is the skin rejuvenation covered by medical aid?
    No, it is considered strictly an elective surgery or "beautification procedure."

  22. How is the pricing determined when using tge CO2 laser?
    Price is determined by the region of the face which is treated. The doctor will discuss the full amount for service during your initial consultation, and payment is normally required on the date of the surgery.