CO2 Fractional Laser


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Fractional laser resurfacing is a cosmetic procedure that has been approved by the FDA to treat signs of aging, sun damage, and scars. It is especially popular to reduce stretch marks or tummy tuck scars.

Fractional laser resurfacing is a cosmetic procedure that has been approved by the FDA to treat signs of aging, sun damage, and scars. It is especially popular to reduce stretch marks or tummy tuck scars.

During the past few years, new technology called fractional laser resurfacing has been developed, which has dramatically shortened recovery time and lessened the occurrence of complications.

With fractional laser resurfacing the laser beam is broken up or fractionated into many small micro beams, which are separated so that when they strike the skin surface small areas of the skin between the beams are not hit by the laser and left intact. These small areas of untreated skin promote a
much more rapid recovery and healing with less risk of complications. The small areas treated by the fractional micro beams, called micro treatment zones, cause sufficient laser injury to promote new collagen production and resultant facial skin rejuvenation. (See Diagram Right)

In the above skin diagram, the first red area on the left represents traditional non-fractional ablative CO2 and Erbium laser resurfacing. To ablate means to surgically remove. The heat of the CO2 or Erbium laser removes the skin tissue. Since these lasers were not fractional, all of the skin in the treated area is removed creating an open wound that takes a long time to heal.

The second drawing is the fractional CO2 laser which fractionally ablated the surface of the skin down to a depth of 70-100 microns. This laser is fractional and the skin heals much quicker, but depth of penetration is not deep enough to produce substantial wrinkle removal, skin tightening and skin rejuvenation.

The third red areas represent the non-ablative fractional laser technologies, which heat but do not ablate the skin. These lasers use an Erbium laser to heat small columns of the deep skin layers to promote new collagen production and plump the skin and skin wrinkles. Recovery time is much less than with traditional ablative CO2 and Erbium lasers.

More recently several new fractional ablative lasers (ablate means to surgically remove) have been developed, which actually remove the heated column of skin tissue and provide more substantial wrinkle removal and superficial skin tightening than the non-ablative fractional lasers These new ablative fractional CO2 and Erbium lasers have the advantage of producing better wrinkle removal and skin rejuvenation than the non-ablative fractional lasers.

Preparing for this procedure and its aftercare requires that you follow Dr. Calderon’s instructions. The following will give you an idea about what to expect, although it should not be construed as medical advice.

Things You’ll Need:
1. Possibly prescription medications
2. Occlusive ointment
3. Ice pack
4. White vinegar, if recommended, or other type of cleanser
5. Gauze pads
6. Hair headband

• When consulting with Dr. Calderon about fractional laser resurfacing, be sure to disclose your medical history and understand what is required of you. Including history of acne, Accutane use, cold sores, surgeries, or bleeding problems. Let Dr. Calderon know if you are currently using Retin A/Renova products. Be sure to understand what Dr. Calderon requires of you before and after the procedure, as your thoroughness will contribute to a positive result.

• Obtain any prescription medications. If you have a history of Herpes, discuss this with Dr. Calderon, as she may want you to have a prescription. It may be that you need a prophylactic antiviral medication. Also discuss acne breakouts with Dr. Calderon as she want you to have a prescription for that as well. Occasionally an antibiotic may be helpful in certain situations.

• If you have a medium complexion or extensive sunspots, you might be put on the prescription Quinessence to lighten any dark areas. Dr. Calderon may want you to use non-prescription homeopathic arnica montana or bromelain to reduce bruising. She will want you to avoid alcohol, aspirin or non=steroidal anti-inflammatory pills (ibuprofen, etc.) which cause bruising and bleeding as well as fish oil and Vitamin E. Depending on your pain tolerance and preference, you might be prescribed an analgesic.

• Obtain aftercare products your doctor recommends. You will probably use an occlusive ointment after your procedure. For the first few days (depending on how you are healing), every four hours or so you will apply a vinegar soak for about 20 minutes and will then reapply the ointment. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. Ice packs might be recommended to reduce swelling and discomfort. Tylenol is sometimes suggested for pain as well, but be sure to discuss this with your doctor.

• Begin using UVA/UVB sunscreen approximately one week after your procedure. Depending on how you are healing, your doctor will want you to begin applying sunscreen around one week after your fractionated laser resurfacing procedure.