Redness After CO2 Fractional Laser

I was treated with CO2 Fractional Laser for acne scar on my whole face 4 weeks ago. Now, it's still pretty red, and I feel hopeless because it seems like my skin is getting worse. Is there any possibility that my normal skin color will return?

Doctor Answers 8

Redness after Fractional CO2 Laser Resurfacing

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Persistent redness after ablative laser skin resurfacing is common. Sometimes it can take several weeks to resolve...just be patient.  Things that can promote faster recovery and not worsen: Sunblock containing Zinc or Titanium, gentle moisturizers (Cetaphil and Aveeno), stay away from products that can make it more red (Retin-A, retinoid based products), Mild topical steroid cream/ointment (be careful sometimes the products can irritate the skin).  You can try applying a small amount to a small region to see how you tolerate it.

Orange Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Redness after laser skin resurfacing

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Redness is a common factor in the postoperative laser phase. I would make sure that you are using no abrasive cleansers, products containing AHA's, Retin-A, and keeping to a simple cetaphil wash. You may also moisturize with cetaphil lotion. If any of these products cause irritation or further redness you stop them immediately as you may have a sensitivity tom the product. Sunscreen may also cause sensitivity problems however it is pertinent to use post surgery. Make sure you find a sunscreen that is not irritating and is approved by your physician. Many of my patients use La Mer cream after the first week of their post operative phase and have been happy with the results. Each patient reacts differently to the healing process and I strongly suggest keeping a close patient physician repore during this recovery process. I hope this is helpful to you and please know that time is on your side. Your skin will return to normal and hopefully with a new youthful, scar free appearance! Best regards!

Michael Elam, MD
Orange County Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 218 reviews

Reddness will go away

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The reddness you are experiencing is not uncommon, even after fractional laser treatments. It is usually an indication that the skin is still healing. I would avoid any skin bleaching cream or Retin A for another week, or if you are using these creams, back-off and start using them every other day. Use lots of moisturizer and avoid the sun. It will get better.

Robert M. Jensen, MD
Medford Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Redness Post Fractional Laser

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The skin is compromised after a Fractional Laser treatment and special care is needed post procedure.  Whether you did an ablative or non-ablative laser, following the pre and post care instructions is vital in the successful outcome from this aggressive treatment. A follow-up visit is recommended and the recovery products maybe adjusted to your particular needs. The number one reason a person may continue to be red, is sun exposure. Even driving in the car during the daytime can affect the skin and cause inflammation from the sun post procedure. Another reason is that a product that you previously used maybe too aggressive and may contain ingredients that are irritating to the skin during this time. When your skin returns to your normal state...meaning when your skin feels like your skin again, which could be a few months, then you can introduce your skincare routine one product at a time. 

How common is redness after CO2 laser?

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Redness is dependent on patient and treatment characteristics including skin type, type of laser and depth of the laser treatment. 

Redness is a common immediately after laser treatment and for the first week after laser. Occasionally there can be redness for up to six weeks and rarely for six months. To reduced the chance of redness several measures can be taken during your laser treatment:

•      Avoid in certain high risk skin types, identify before treatment

•      Safety protocol for every patient

•      Clear post laser resurfacing instructions

•      Use of bio-technology to enhance recovery after laser

•      Use of test-patch of laser to avoid risk

•      An experienced doctor who has used laser resurfacing for many years with good results

•      State-of-the-art modern laser designed for safety and fast recovery

 If you have redness after laser, skin creams can be prescribed that will reduce the redness faster, these include moisturisers, sun block and anti-inflammatory creams. 

Redness After CO2 Fractional Laser

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Being red after a fractional laser is fairly normal. This can be minimized with certain skin care products which have been demonstrated to reduce post-treatment redness. In fact, most cosmeceutical companies are now making skin care post-procedure kits to help with this concern — and your physician will guide you which is best for you.

Redness lasting more than what is expected — a week or so — is called prolonged erythema (redness). This sometimes is a sign that something is not right and that there is a potential adverse reaction occurring — so call your physician and get in for an evaluation.

Michael Gold, MD
Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Redness after Fractional CO2 laser

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Redness is a common side effect of the Fractionated CO2 laser.  Usually my patients stay red for a few days after treatment.  Was this your first treatment? The redness should dissipate fairly quickly.  If it continues you should return to you dermatologist to evaluate it and see if they can give you anything to help the redness go away more quickly.  Make sure you had the actual Fraxel laser and always consult with a board certified dermatologist for your treatments who has experience in this procedure.


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The redness you are experiencing sounds normal, you are still in the healing phase.  Make sure you are following your post op instructions carefully and using SPF!!


Hannah Vargas, MD
Kansas City Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.