Fractional CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing 

Time, gravity with aging and excess sun exposure can cause deepening of facial lines and uneven pigmentation.  This gives an older, tired look to an otherwise youthful complexion. Laser skin resurfacing can reduce, and often remove, much of this damage to the skin and literally “turn back the clock”, giving the tired looking, sun damaged face an entirely new, fresh look with healthy, glowing smooth skin.  This is the goal of laser resurfacing.

The UltraPulse CO2 laser has long been recognized as the gold standard of laser resurfacing systems.  Dr. Shah is helping to eliminate deep lines, fine lines, and dark age spots on the face. This laser works amazingly well, offering consistently excellent cosmetic results.

Now, thanks to a new technology known as “fractional laser resurfacing”, the UltraPulse laser’s cosmetic results have become even better, utilizing only a single treatment with a dramatically reduced downtime, frequently a week or less.

The UltraPulse Encore CO2 laser offers two major resurfacing tools, the ActiveFX and DeepFX.  The Active FX works well for eliminating fine lines and wrinkles, brown spots and pigment irregularities.  The DeepFX helps eliminate deep lines, facial scars, acne scars, and improves the overall texture of the skin.  Dr. Shah uses both components simultaneously, enhancing the overall result. The goal of fractional laser treatments is simple: replace damaged skin with new, fresh skin.  

The primary targets of the ActiveFX and Deep FX includes:

  • fine lines and wrinkles of the face, especially the upper lip, cheeks, and forehead
  • crow’s feet around the eyes
  • vertical deep lines of lips (smoker lines) and frown lines
  • brown spots and splotchy uneven skin tone
  • acne scars and other facial scars
  • Additionally, for the first time the CO2 laser can safely be used to treat loose skin, wrinkles and pigment irregularities on the neck, chest, and hands.
  • can be simultaneously with a face and neck lift so the loose skin can be tighten surgically and at the same time the skin surface can be rejuvenated!

Benefits of new Active FX and Deep FX CO2 laser resurfacing: 

  • single treatment therapy
  • minimal downtime, frequently a week or less
  • dramatic results noticeable right away
  • immediate collagen contraction
  • reduce wrinkles and fine lines, and softens deeper frown lines
  • noticeably improved skin tone and texture with more even pigmentation, reducing brown spots
  • stimulates new collagen formation and plumbs the skin
  • can treat neck, chest, and hands
  • can be performed simultaneously with face-neck lift enhancing over all result; achieving total facial rejuvenation with one procedure

The results are dramatic and, with proper sun protection, can last for many years.  Most effects of the treatment become visible right away.  Additionally, there are long term benefits of new collagen formation and tightening of existing collagen and elastin molecules in the dermis. This results in continued smoothing over time.  Therefore, most people continue to show improvement up to six to twelve months after the procedure 

What areas can be treated with laser resurfacing?

Laser resurfacing effectively and safely reduces, and in many cases, removes wrinkles and uneven pigmentation and tightens the skin around the lower eyelids, upper eyelids, forehead, cheek, and jowl region.  It is quite common for patients to have full face laser resurfacing and obtain fresh, new, unblemished skin giving a remarkably natural and more youthful complexion.  It can also be used for acne scarring or scarring from accidents or surgery on almost any part of the body.
Additionally, for the first time the CO2 laser can safely be used to treat loose skin, wrinkles and pigment irregularities on the neck, chest, and hands.

How does laser resurfacing work?

The most effective laser for facial resurfacing is the fractional CO2 (carbon dioxide) laser.  This laser is capable of minimizing wrinkles and brown spots of the skin of the face, neck, chest and hands.  It is also highly effective in balancing out pigment irregularities of the facial skin and minimizing facial scars from trauma or acne. 

Fractional laser resurfacing means that the laser only treats a fraction of the skin’s epidermis, while still effectively treating the entire dermis, or deeper layer, of the skin.  .  This leaves bridges of untouched skin to aid in a speedy healing process resulting in very little downtime, typically one week or less.   This allows for a quicker recovery and less downtime, while achieving the same results as older, nonfractional laser resurfacing.

Fractional CO2 laser treatment will dramatically smooth skin surface irregularities such as mild to moderate wrinkles, acne scarring & remove patchy discolorations as well.  In addition, thermal heating of the deeper layers will begin an increased production of collagen.  Collagen production will further diminish fine to mild wrinkling and tighten mild sagging of the skin. This is a delayed benefit that continues for six to twelve months after treatment.

Can I treat certain problem areas or do I need to treat the whole face?

Laser resurfacing can be used to treat the whole face, neck, chest and hands - or simply specific “problem areas”, like isolated scars or cheek acne scarring.  Usually, it is preferable to treat the face in “aesthetic units”, such as the lower eyelids or around the mouth.  Most often, however, sun damage, wrinkling, and uneven pigmentation affects the whole face and better results are obtained when the entire face is treated.  

Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing is frequently combined with other cosmetic procedures such as facelifts and lower eyelid surgery.  For the first time, because of the fractional nature of the new Ultra Pulse laser, it can safely be done simultaneously with a face and/or neck lift.  There is no need to separate the timing laser resurfacing from a surgical facelift any more.  This greatly speeds up the patients’ recovery and allows the patient to looking better in a shorter amount of time.

In terms of the lower eyelids, it is Shah's opinion that tightening the lower eyelid skin with the CO2 laser is much more effective and safer than trying to tighten the skin by surgically removing skin.  The laser gives the skin a fresher, smoother appearance with less little risk of scarring or changing the position of the lower eyelid

How is the procedure performed?

If isolated, smaller areas, such as the lower eyelids or individual scars, are being resurfaced alone, topical and local anesthesia with no sedation, works very well.
If sedation is required, Dr.Shah utilizes a board certified anesthesiologist for intravenous sedation at Surgery center. 

Dr. Shah will mark the face into a series of aesthetic units and while you are sedated.  The appropriate settings for the laser are chosen based on the patient’s skin type and anatomy.  The Deep FX is performed first on the deeper wrinkles of the face and neck.  Then the handpiece and settings of the laser are changed and the Active FX component of the laser resurfacing is performed next.

When the procedure is done, a healing ointment is placed on the treated area and the patient is brought to the recovery room.

How is the recovery from laser resurfacing with the CO2 laser?

Most people describe the discomfort after laser resurfacing as a sensation similar to a mild sun burn.  Cool compresses, generous application of healing ointment, and necessary pain medication will make the recovery comfortable.

This resurfacing provides the most immediate and dramatic results in terms of removing wrinkles and sun damage compared to any other modality, but there is a recovery period and some downtime. 

Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing was dramatically decreased the downtime from laser resurfacing.  Typically, the face will need to be covered with an ointment for 1 week.  After one week, light cover up or make-up can be applied to the skin.  The skin may be light pink for one to weeks after the procedure, but most patients feel comfortable returning to work and social situations in less than a week.

How is CO2 laser resurfacing different from other types of skin resurfacing?

It is the most effective way to obtain immediate, significant, and safe resurfacing of facial lines, wrinkle, uneven pigmentation and scars.

Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing allows for more control over how deep the treatment penetrates your skin, as opposed to other treatments.  It allows for more precise treatment of delicate facial areas, such as those around your eyes and lips.  Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing also causes less redness and post-operative discomfort than the other methods.  Most often the healing is complete in less than a week.

CO2 laser resurfacing sounds great, but I do not want long down time.  Are there simpler options?

Yes, there are a variety of other options with varying downtime.  The simplest way to achieve resurfacing of the skin with no downtime is by maintaining a daily home care regimen of facial cleansing and exfoliation.  Dr. Shah and his aesthetician will be happy to discuss this with you and achieve a sensible plan that fits your lifestyle

A step beyond home skin care is having an aesthetician provide a series of in office treatments, such as light, medium or deeper chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and facials that are tailored to your skin type and needs.  This is highly individualized and Dr. Shah can discuss the best options for you. 

There are nonablative lasers and intense pulsed light therapy that are effective in rejuvenating the skin with no down time.  However, these have significantly less or no down time, but may require multiple treatments for more subtle results.

Finally, the Ultra Pulse Encore laser has a variety of setting which can be tailored to your specific needs.  It can be used as a light to medium depth resurfacing tool, which can minimize downtime to simply a day or less.

How do I set up an appointment and begin a treatment?

Dr. Shah would be happy to meet with you personally to discuss this laser treatment in detail.  Please feel free to call the office at 702 684 5502 or schedule an appointment on line.  We are here to help you….