Fractional CO2 resurfacing can erase years from your face and dramatically improve the appearance of wrinkles and pigment, but it is not a lunchtime procedure. “In the past, traditional carbon dioxide laser treatments removed the entire surface of the skin. The healing process was lengthy and permanent lightening was possible,” says Washington, DC, dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD. Fractional CO2 uses small columns of fractionated energy to ablate areas of damage. “Tiny wounds are made and the surrounding healthy skin helps with healing, making new collagen and elastin,” says Los Angeles dermatologist Rebecca Fitzgerald, MD. By targeting zones deep in the skin as opposed to the entire skin surface, fractional CO2 resurfacing is a one-time, treatment performed with local anesthesia. It offers mild improvement in wrinkles, discoloration and scarring by stimulating collagen production. The companies behind these treatments also claim that skin tightening is a result.
For many, the recovery is more uncomfortable and takes longer than surgery. You’ll need to follow specific skin-care instructions. Immediately after, your skin will be raw and oozing, and probably covered in ointment and bandaged. Crusts will form over the first week, and the healing skin beneath will be pink and very sensitive. Although the skin heals within a month, redness can persist for about two or three months. Once you have fully healed you should notice a significant improvement in fine lines, wrinkles, skin laxity and discoloration.