Face it, sunbathing is an enjoyable experience. You’re warm, comfortable, out in the fresh air, and churning out vitamin D by the minute. However, there’s a downside to all that sun, in the form of damaged skin. Whether it’s photoaging, which makes your face lined and saggy, or it’s a burn that lifts off your skin’s top layer and damages the structures beneath, too much sun is not a good thing. Fortunately, you can now correct past mistakes with cutting-edge cosmetic procedures.
At Eterna Vein & Medical Aesthetics in Puyallup, Washington, our team of experts uses CO2 laser resurfacing to wipe away lines and wrinkles and restore the youthful tone of your facial skin. Learn what you need to know about this revolutionary technology below.
The concept of laser resurfacing
Laser resurfacing is a cosmetic procedure that reduces facial wrinkles and skin irregularities like blemishes, sun damage, and acne scars to improve your skin’s appearance. It can also treat the loss of skin tone and improve your complexion; however, it can’t be used to eliminate highly saggy skin.
A handheld device directs short, concentrated pulses of light at the treatment area; in the case of ablative lasers, the light and heat precisely remove the outer skin layer by layer to target the damaged dermal tissue beneath. The damage sparks an increase in the production of collagen, a structural protein that gives your skin its elasticity. As collagen increases in the dermal layer and the epidermis heals and regrows, the treated area becomes smoother and tighter.
While stripping off your outer skin layer may seem a bit harsh, with ablative methods you require fewer treatments than with nonablative procedures.
People with lighter skin tones are often good candidates for laser resurfacing because they’re at reduced risk for hyperpigmentation, a potential side effect.
CO2 laser resurfacing is a type of ablative laser that gets rid of scars, warts, and deep wrinkles from sun damage. The newest version is called fractionated CO2 — a fractional laser leaves tiny columns of untreated tissue in the treatment area, which helps shorten recovery time and reduce side effect risk. This version uses either very short pulsed light or continuous beams projected in a scanning pattern; both remove thin layers of skin with minimal heat damage.
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgeons (ABCS) recommends having laser resurfacing performed in the fall or winter. That can help decrease sun exposure, which can further damage delicate, healing skin.
What’s involved in the CO2 laser resurfacing procedure?
Before you have the procedure you should:
Stop smoking: It can prolong the healing
Avoid unprotected sun exposure: It can cause permanent, irregular skin pigmentation and may reactivate the herpes virus
Take an antibiotic and/or antiviral: To prevent infections, especially if you’re prone to fever blisters and cold sores
When you come in for the procedure, we clean your skin, then apply a local anesthetic to the treatment area(s). If you’re getting your whole face treated, we will make sure that you don't feel any pain.
If you’re just having small portions of your face treated, the procedure takes about 30 to 45 minutes. For a full-face treatment, it may take up to two hours.
Because ablative laser resurfacing removes your skin’s outer layer, the treated area will be raw, swollen, and itchy. We first apply a thick ointment to help moisturize the area and prevent it from scabbing over, then cover it with an airtight and watertight dressing.
You can take OTC pain relievers for the discomfort and use cool compresses for the swelling. In about a week, you’ll notice the skin becoming dry and peeling off. New skin usually covers the area in 10-21 days, depending on the condition treated.
Your skin might remain red or pink for several months, and it may be sensitive for up to a year. Once it begins to heal, though, you'll notice a difference in your skin tone and appearance. The benefits of the treatment can last for years.
Have you developed damaged and lackluster skin from spending too much time in the sun? CO2 laser resurfacing might be the treatment for you. Contact Eterna Vein & Medical Aesthetics to find out if you’re a good candidate by calling us at 253-268-3400, or by scheduling a consultation online. Great skin can be just an appointment away.