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 16

Recovery from Fractional Laser Resurfacing

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
4.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

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.


Dr. Mosher

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

Depends on power and coverage...

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

Davin Lim, MBBS, FACD
Brisbane Dermatologist
4.7 out of 5 stars 74 reviews

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.

Ben Behnam, MD
Santa Monica Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

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.

Anil R. Shah, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 162 reviews

Recovery Time

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
4.5 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Laser ins and outs

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 10 reviews

When can I go back to work after laser resurfacing?

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

For most patients having laser resurfacing recovery can be 2-3weeks. Dr. De Silva uses bio-technology to enhance recovery so recovery time is 10days, Bio-Technology involves the use of PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) in combination with laser resurfacing to enhancing healing. PRP essentially means taking your own growth factors and placing them into the skin where the laser treatment has been completed, this heals the skin faster.   

Although a lighter laser resurfacing can be completed with faster recovery, if the treatment is too light it will be less effective. In the same way a spa may offer a “lunchtime peel” with immediate recovery, the results are also likely to be difficult to see. 

Sun exposure should be minimized for 3-months after laser resurfacing to ensure a fast recovery.

Julian De Silva, MD
London Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 140 reviews

Downtime after fractional CO2 Laser - Indian skin


The downtime after a fractional CO2 Laser lasts between 5 to 10 days. With Indian skin, persistent erythema(redness) or sensitivity for a longer can be a harbinger of pigmentation, so keeping the downtime short, is very important for darker skin types.

Renita (Lourdhurajan) Rajan, MD, DNB
India Dermatologist
4.9 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

CO2 laser downtime: a week on the average

As mentioned by others, the total downtime depends on the intensity of the treatment. Physically, most patients feel fine from the first post treatment day and the treated area will dry up from Day three or four inwards. For most, it is back to normal after a week.

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.

Chien C. Kat, FRCS
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 76 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.