Ablative skin resurfacing — CO2 and Erbium lasers
This procedure was the gold standard for skin resurfacing in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. It is still used to today for more severe wrinkles, sun damage and scars. Laser resurfacing with the Ultrapulse CO2 laser allows the operator precise and predictable removal of fine layers of sun-damaged skin.
Unlike the Fraxel Re:pair, the fully ablative CO2 laser results in complete removal of the upper layer of skin resulting in longer healing times and increased side effects. Today, this technology is generally only used in areas of the most severe damage—like around the mouth area—rather than full face.
The CO2 laser also delivers heat to the tissue, which causes collagen to contract, producing visible tightening of the skin. In some patients, this effect of laser resurfacing may complement or even replace more invasive procedures such as facelifts.
The erbium laser may also be used for resurfacing. Erbium resurfacing may be used for mild sun damage. It is also used for resurfacing of the neck and chest.
Dr. Rostan has had great success using a layered technique for resurfacing. First resurfacing is performed with the Ultrapulse CO2 laser, then the area is treated with the erbium laser. This improves healing and reduces post-operative redness. The erbium laser is then used to carefully sculpt away the edges of acne scars and deep wrinkles for enhanced results. Dr. Rostan also uses the erbium laser in combination with Fraxel Re:pair treatment for best results on deeper lines.
What is the healing phase like?
During the first few days, significant swelling and an open wound will occur. Soaks should be applied to the skin to enhance healing. During the healing phase, most patients experience no pain or only mild discomfort.
Around 10 – 14 days after the procedure, the resurfaced skin has completely healed in most patients and makeup may be applied. At this point, most patients return to work or normal activities.