Recovery Time with the Fractional CO2 Ablative Laser for Acne Scars, Wrinkles, Resurfacing?

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

Doctor Answers 19

Recovery from Fractional Laser Resurfacing

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The recovery from a fractional laser resurfacing often depends on the depth of the laser treatment and the density (or extend) that the skin was treated. In general, the more extensive the treatment, the longer the recovery time. That being said, the type of laser aftercare that is provided a patient also can contribute to the recovery time. Besides cleaning the skin of crusts and making sure to stay out of sunlight, there are two products that I have found to be excellent to help accelerate healing:

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. 

Phoenix Facial Plastic Surgeon

Depends on power and coverage...

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Totally agree with all the experts on this panel, your recovery will depend on the power settings, as well as the coverage. Example full power, with 7-8 passes may take 7 days-10 days to recover with redness lasting weeks, whilst low power with one or two passes will only take 3 days to recover. Its a balance between results, and downtime. Also your skin type. Darker skin types will benefit from less passes, as this decreases any postinflammatory skin darkening. 

Hope that helps, 


Dr Davin S. Lim
Dermatologist- Laser and Cosmetic

Recovery time with Fractional CO2 laser

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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.

Ben Behnam, MD
Santa Monica Dermatologic Surgeon

Downtime with fractional CO2 facial skin resurfacing

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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.


Dr. Mosher

Mathew C. Mosher, MD
Vancouver Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Recovery Time for CO2 Fractionated laser

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Like most surgeries, the recovery times are related to the degree of trauma and the inflammatory response from the body. In general, the greater the treatment density and depth (which relates to thermal injury), the greater the response and potentially the longer the recovery time. Having said that, the average recovery time for skin to heal on the surface and allow makeup is about one week with a fractionated  10600nm CO2 laser. Skin care afterward can be  helpful in the recovery.  Contrast that to the totally ablative lasers from the 1990s that took approximately 3 weeks to heal on the surface. Remodeling and collagen production deeper in the skin continues for several (3-6) months. Areas that are more severe may require either multiple or more agressive treatments.

Stephen Fink, DO FAOCO
Newport Beach Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Downtime for CO2

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Thank you for the question.  The downtime for the Fractional CO2 procedure is 3 to 5 days of social downtime and can be up to 2 weeks for complete recovery. There are many factors that can effect the healing time such as, treatment settings, age, skin type, and thickness of the skin.  A consultation with an expert provider can better address your paticular situation and needs.  Hope that helps. 


Dr. Paul Flashner

Paul Flashner, MD
Boston Physician
4.9 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Fractional carbon dioxide Fraxel Repair laser resurfacing healing and downtime

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Typically, faces resurfaced with fractional carbon dioxide laser need 10 - 12 days to completely epithelialize (new layer of skin). It is faster than the non fractional older ultrapulse fully ablative carbon dioxide treatment and a greater amount of healing takes place sooner with the fractional laser, but skin is still red for some weeks after the treatment. Swelling is significant for the first several days and most patients hibernate during their wound care. 

Our patients undergoing Fraxel Repair CO2 laser resurfacing are encouraged to return in the first week for an oxygen facial which expedites the healing process and makes the appearance of the skin look better during this initial oozing period.

We recommend certain cleansers and products to be used specific for that laser treatment and the patient's skin during the first two weeks, and other products thereafter to augment the laser's production of new collagen. Importantly, the right sunblock is needed to be used after healing without irritating the sensitive skin.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Recovery time after C02 fractional laser resurfacing

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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.

Anil R. Shah, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 177 reviews

Recovery Time

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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.

Marc Schneider, MD
Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Laser ins and outs

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I tell patients to expect at least 2 weeks. At that point make-up and foundation can be used to cover the redness which will still be there. The settings and some other factors such as baseline skin tone and pre-treatment protocols can also affect the recovery process. 

Discuss with your surgeon before as most of us have certain post treatment protocols we prefer for patients to undertake maximize results. 

The laser can do wonders. Enjoy!

Hope this helps,

Best of luck,


Benjamin Caughlin, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 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.