I had CO2 laser treatment done 4 months ago and now I have hyperpigmentation (Photo)

I hade co2 done on my cheeks and forehead 4 months ago and now i have discoloration and redness seems like the treatment made my skin worse what should i do its not fading away i smoke btw

Doctor Answers 3

Hyperpigmentation Following CO2 Laser Treatment

It is difficult to provide you with an accurate assessment without knowing your medical history and from the photos you provided.  I recommend you keep all of your scheduled follow up appointments with your practitioner and share your concerns.  Your provider should educate you on proper post-care following a laser treatment, including sun avoidance and the continual use of broad-spectrum SPF and skin care to maintain the results from your procedure.  An experienced and skilled physician would know to have you prep the skin properly prior to treatment to potentially prevent the pigment problem from occurring.  Fortunately, if you are experiencing true post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation, your provider can prescribe topicals to lessen the appearance of your concerns.  Good luck!

Plano Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Irritation from fractional CO2 laser can be treated, or left to fade on its own. There are also alternatives to treat acne scars

Thank you for your question. I understand you had CO2 laser treatment done four months ago, and since then you feel like your skin has gotten worse, and there are persistent redness and other discolorations. You also say you are a smoker.

I can give you some guidance to the best of my ability regarding this issue, in absence of a proper physical examination. I’ve been using CO2 laser since the mid-90s, and have been in practice for over 20 years as a Board-certified cosmetic surgeon and Fellowship-trained oculofacial plastic and reconstructive surgeon.

Based on the photos, it appears to me you’re young, and I suspect you underwent the CO2 laser treatment for something like acne or discolorations. When treating acne scars, usually the goal of the laser is to try to make the scarred skin look less obvious in comparison to the adjacent skin, and what this means is high temperatures are used to ablate the surrounding skin around the scars in order to create a more even surface, and to tighten the. Naturally, the deeper and more aggressive the laser, the longer the redness and discolorations last. In my practice, I prefer to be more conservative when it comes to using lasers on younger people.

I’m sure your doctor probably discussed this possible outcome with you as part of the risks and benefits of laser treatment. I would be surprised if your doctor didn’t recommend any type of bleaching or skin lightening creams to help with the pigmentation issues. Even a steroid cream can help address the redness and the pigmentation.

I would also suggest you stop smoking. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but when you smoke, you’re essentially breathing in carbon monoxide formaldehyde, which results in the generation of free radicals. In other words, it literally chokes the oxygen away from your tissue. Smokers also tend to have issues with healing and experience longer periods of inflammation. I understand it is hard to stop smoking, but I would tell you to do the best you can, as nothing good can come of it. Interestingly, according to medical studies, within 30 days of stopping smoking, the human body can heal itself in a way that’s comparable to someone who’s never smoked in their life.

In my practice, we always emphasize the limitations of what we can do in terms of cosmetic procedures for smokers compared to non-smokers. In some cases, such as face lifting, I will not do surgery at all on someone who smokes. An exception to this, however, is eyelid surgery, wherein even smokers are able to do well due to the dual circulation of the eyelid area.

In my practice, we use platelet-rich plasma to stimulate collagen and blood supply, and improve overall skin quality and texture. Platelet-rich plasma is derived from your own blood and is made up of a concentration of growth factors that help with wound healing and new blood vessel formation. This treatment could be of value to you, however its benefit could be outweighed by the negative effects of smoking. So stopping smoking is certainly a key factor, especially when you want to improve your appearance.

That said, I suggest you go back to your original doctor to discuss these issues and try to get a better understanding of the treatment strategy. Sometimes people will say, “wait it out”, and sometimes this is fine because pigmentation and redness eventually does fade away. Try to gain some additional information to guide you moving forward.

I hope that was helpful and I wish you the best of luck!

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Amiya Prasad, MD
New York Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 70 reviews

Hyperpigmentation On Face -- Clear + Brilliant/Viva, Microneelding/PRP, Skin lightening, Aerolase

I suggest speaking to a cosmetic dermatologist.  you will need skin lightening and sun protection.  low density low level lasers or salicylic acid peels do very well to help this problem.  you will need a series of treatments by a cosmetic dermatologist who is an expert in lasers and darker skin. Best, Dr. Emer.

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 190 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.