Dear docs , what is the real downtime and total recovery time after a fractional CO2 (10600 mn)procedure for : Mild acne scars Wrinkles of upper and lower eyelid Skin rejuvenation (improving texture, etc..) I REALLY APRECIATE YOUR WORK ON THIS SITE. THANKS A LOT
Recovery Time with the Fractional CO2 Ablative Laser for Acne Scars, Wrinkles, Resurfacing?
Doctor Answers 13
Recovery time after C02 fractional laser resurfacing
Recovery time after C02 laser resurfacing is dependent on the depth and power of resurfacing. With superficial resurfacing, patients can have little downtime. With moderate resurfacing, 4-7 days can be expected. Deeper resurfacing can have a week or more of recovery. Your laser surgeon can discuss the pros and cons of depth of penetration and downtime with you.
Downtime with fractional CO2 facial skin resurfacing
Over the last 10 years there has been many advances in skin resurfacing technology. However, it has become clear that the degree of improvement is directly proportional to the aggressiveness of the treatment. My experience is with CO2 laser resurfacing over the past 15 years. Our current devices treat only a fraction of the skin surface with each treatment instead of removing all of the outer skin layer. Fractional CO2 treatments result in less injury to the tissue and therefore faster healing and less risk of scar or pigment damage. In exchange for this easier treatment, we do not see as much correction with one treatment. With experience, each patient can have a treatment program that suits their needs. If you have acne scarring or deeper skin damage then deeper and more than one treatment is best. The "social downtime" can be a few days to one week depending on the settings. The skin will look red for 1-3 weeks but there is no bleeding, bruising and minimal swelling. Repeating treatments every 8-12 weeks until the desired correction is achieved works well for my patients. 1-4 treatments may be necessary but 2 or 3 is average for those with moderate skin aging and damage.
From your description of the problem I would design a treatment plan that would result in 2-3 days of applying a thick moisturizing ointment. After that normal skin care, make-up or sunscreen would be used. You may only need one treatment on the eyelid skin and up to 3 for the acne scarring.
Downtime for CO2 resurfacing
That being said, you need to define what downtime means to you. The feeling of warmth, weeping, and peeling are usually done within a week with even the more aggressive settings, and it can decrease proportionally from there with less aggressive treatments.
Redness can persist well beyond the original week of downtime, and although persistent erythema has been considered a "complication" of ablative lasers like the CO2, it can easily be covered with make up or even just a lightly tinted sunscreen, which you should be wearing afterwards anyway.
Of note, the new fractionated technologies allow more aggressive settings with a decreased downtime than you would otherwise have to endure to achieve similar results.
Fractionation simply means that the laser treats small micro thermal zones covering varying densities depending on how your physician sets it instead of ablating the entire top surface of your skin. With just these micro thermal zones being ablated, the normal islands of skin in between allow a more rapid healing.
To discuss your needs and likely downtime, seek out a dermatologic surgeon, oculoplastic surgeon, facial plastic surgeon or plastic surgeon who is board certified and fellowship trained in one of these "core four" cosmetic specialties.
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Hope that helps,
Dr Davin S. Lim
Dermatologist- Laser and Cosmetic
Recovery from Fractional Laser Resurfacing
1. Oxymist (Aminoplex). This recovery kit remains one of the best classic post laser treatment products,
2. Omni Serum (Omnibioinnovations) This growth factor serum is a great new product to help accelerate laser recovery.
Overall, we see patients initial recovery taking about 5-7 days, with the results being seen within the first 4-6 weeks.
Recovery time with Fractional CO2 laser
Fractional CO2 laser drill tiny dots through the skin, leaving intact skin between these dots. In contrast to fully ablative CO2 lasers that we used to do in the past, only a certain percentage of the skin is treated. Thus, the fractional CO2 has less downtime with minimal crusting, oozing, bleeding etc. There is typically minimal bleeding with fractional co2, but there can be some pinpoint bleeding. The recovery time really depends on how aggressive the setting are. However for the most part, you will have about 4 days of true downtime. The first two days you will be red and swollen. At day # 3 and 4, the redness and swelling will start to reduce by 50% and by day # 5, you will just be red, kind of like sunburn red. Most of my patients go back to work at day #5. The redness can persist potentially anywhere between 1 to 3 weeks, all depending on the aggressive of the setting. You can cover this with makeup and my patients do not mind it. I typically recommend 1 to 2 treatments, unless for severe acne scar which sometimes may require 3, depending on the skin color and the severity of the scars. This is the most satisfying laser procedure I do in the office. Dr. Behnam, Santa Monica.
Recovery time is completely dependent upon depth and aggressiveness of the resurfacing. If my patient only needs a fractional CO2, then initial wound recovery is complete in 4-5 days. Redness will takes weeks to resolve and final results will take 6-8 weeks. However, if we are trying to completely ablate deep wrinkles, then an aggressive complete resurfacing will take 10 days to heal, 3-4 months for redness to fade and 3 months for maximum collagen in-growth.
CO2 laser downtime: a week on the average
Wound care seems to make a difference. I now routine suggest that patients use the ZO Post Procedure Recovery Kit which had been formulated for treatments like chemical peels and ablative laser resurfacing. And my impressing is that it shortens recovery by a day on the average.