Will I Lose Pigmentation with a Total CO2 Face Treatment?

I have been told that after a full face co2 treatment that my face would always be white and to never tan my face. Is this true?

Doctor Answers 2

CO2 laser skin pigmentation and sun exposure

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After CO2 laser treatment of the face you will always lose some facial pigment cells. That does not mean you will become white necessarily but definitely lighter in complexion. These pigment cells protect you from sun damage but secreting more pigment when you are exposed to ultraviolet light of the sun. We then call that a tan.

Since you would have fewer pigment cells and therefore less natural protection from the sun after the treatment you have to be careful and minimize sun exposure afterwards. Sunscreens will suffice you do not have to stay indoors during the day but then virtually everyone should wear some sunscreen when outdoors anyways. Not only will that prevent skin cancer but it will also keep you looking younger longer.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Hypopigmentation and CO2 Laser

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The CO2 laser used in facial skin smoothing and tightening emits a high energy beam which vaporizes a deep section of the skin AND heats the adjacent area. It is thought that the heat damage to the melanocytes, the skin pigment producing cells, causes skin bleaching or hypopigmentation.

No one can predict if you will become pale (hypopigmented) after a CO2 laser treatment but this complication is common enough with CO2 lasers to warrant careful consideration. Maybe you can be treated with ANOTHER laser (Erbium) which does not have such a high rate of hypopigmentation?

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

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.