The carbon dioxide laser (Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation) became available in 1964 and soon became widely applied in dermatology practices. The clinical effects of the CO2 laser are based on the principal of the incoming light being converted to heat. The heat generated from the laser is enough to vaporize the intracellular water of skin tissue, which will cause vaporization of the skin cells.
Although the carbon dioxide laser has been used to perform surgery for over 30 years, a recent technological breakthrough now allows precise alteration of damaged skin with the laser - Laser Skin Resurfacing. The breakthrough came with the ability to produce short, concentrated pulsating beams of light directed at specific areas of irregular skin. Since the early 1990's the CO2 laser has emerged as the "tool" of choice for treating various skin ailments including:
- Acne Scars
- Sun Damage
- Some Birthmarks
- Some Pre-Cancerous Skin Conditions
The newest versions of CO2 Laser resurfacing removes skin very precisely, layer by layer, using very short pulsed light energy or continuous light beams that are delivered in a scanning pattern to precisely remove thin layers of skin with minimal heat damage to the surrounding structures.
When compared to a chemical peel, dermabrasion or other forms of laser treatment, the CO2 laser allows the surgeon to customize the surgery not only for each patient but also to each area of the face. For instance, the thinner, more delicate skin of the eyelids requires different and more sensitive treatment than does the thicker skin of the cheeks, upper lip, or forehead. Also, areas such as the periorbital (eye) regions and perioral (mouth) creases, which were difficult or fairly risky to treat with TCA (trichloroacetic acid) or phenol peels, can now be more aggressively treated with less patient risk.
One Pass CO2 Laser Resurfacing
With the first pass of the laser beam (One pass CO2 laser resurfacing), the old skin is vaporized. Generally the one-pass CO2 laser resurfacing approach is ideal for those patients with minimal to moderate facial problems such as superficial acne scars, facial wrinkles, discoloration of the skin, and dark under eye circles.
One pass CO2 laser face resurfacing is an ideal option for patients who desire the benefits of laser resurfacing, yet cannot afford the recovery time from their busy schedules for standard laser resurfacing. Subsequent passes cause the collagen in the underlying layers to tighten, resulting in smoother, healthier looking skin. However, the more passes performed, the greater the risk of complications, and the longer the recovery.
Laser resurfacing with high-energy, short-pulsed CO2 lasers, are generally considered safe and cosmetically rewarding. Nevertheless, the equipment required to perform the task are highly complex and require a thoroughly trained and experienced surgeon to minimize the potential for unpredictable, undesirable complications.
With advances in laser technology progressing, newer non-ablative lasers have been developed. One laser type that is garnering a great deal of attention is the neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd:YAG) laser. This laser produces a broadband high-intensity pulsed light, and has been reported to affect dermal collagen without resultant exfoliation. A noted benefit is the marked reduction in side effects and recuperative time.
When used for skin rejuvenation, the CO2 or Erbium-YAG resurfacing laser can remove the damaged superficial skin layer-by-layer in a precisely controlled manner. The results have been fantastic with an appearance of new, smoother, and evenly toned skin. This has inevitably led to a surge in popularity for these procedures.
If you have any questions about CO2 laser skin resurfacing or if you would like to schedule a free consultation with a laser skin doctor in your area, fill in the form on the right-hand side of this page and one of our experts will contact you shortly!