When Will the Redness and Dents After Fractional CO2 Laser Heal?

Four weeks ago, I had done Fractional CO2 Laser procedure done on my face to get rid of acne scars. Now, the redness and dents are still there. When will these heal, and will they heal normally?

Doctor Answers 7

Fractional CO2 healing for acne scars

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Acne scarring is one of the most challenging conditions to address. Lucky for you, fractionated CO2 resurfacing tends to have the best results, although it may take multiple treatments to get there.

As I'm sure your physician mentioned to you, a good result is about 50% improvement in your acne scars. Read: they will never be 100% better, or you will never have completely normal skin there again. You need to decide going into your treatment that a 50% improvement will make you satisfied.

Redness after CO2 is a very common and actually encouraging reaction. As your body creates new collagen it requires a lot of energy to do so, and that energy comes from blood vessels, which are of course red. Depending on the aggressiveness of your treatment, that redness can occasionally extend up to eight weeks or more.

Once outside of that eight week window, we consider that to be prolonged redness and will start looking for other causes which can come in the form of topical medications, excess sun exposure, etc.

To ensure you are receiving the highest level of care, 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.

CO2 laser healing is different for each person

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Each person heals differently. It is very important that you follow the skincare instructions you were given, as the new layer of skin will be sensitive while it is healing. The treated surface area of the face and neck will be red immediately following the treatment, then turn pink before returning to normal. The dead skin will gradually form a crust and fall off with each cleansing. Even though the downtime is longer than other lasers, the results of a fractional C02 treatment are unparalleled and are absolutely worth it. You may need additional treatments to achieve the results you're looking for. Consult your doctor if you are concerned, as she/he knows your specific case.

Redness is common

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Redness is common during the postoperative period. You may have dents due to residual acne scarring.  It's best to follow up with your treating physician for repeat evaluation if you have a question.

4-12 weeks

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I perform several cases of Fractional CO2 laser on a weekly basis, and redness following CO2 is certainly more pronounced than erbium or radifrequency. The dents (assuming theses are scars) may need several treatments. I ALWAYS give patients realistic expectations, as acne scars can be improved, but very rarely can there be no trace of scarring. Aim for an improvement of 70% after 3-5 treatments, depending on your skin type. 

As for redness, once again this is highly variable- most cases subside with a few weeks. In rare occasions I may use a VBEAM laser to decrease redness, but I only do this after 6 weeks. Redness can be beneficial to help remodel scars. 

Hope this helps 

Dr Davin Lim
Laser and Aesthetic Dermatologist
Brisbane, Australia

Redness after co2 laser

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After fractional co2, you may need a combination of pulsed dye laser and application of Plato's Scar Serum to help improve the scars and redness.


Dr. Karamanoukian


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Fractional C02 delivers a pulse of energy to areas on your skin in order to stimulate the growth of new collagen. Essentially your skin is renewing itself, the redness and dents are normal for such a short period of time after the procedure. Within a few months these issues should begin to go away, as your skin restores itself. Of course, you should consult the doctor from whom you received the treatment.


Yael Halaas, MD
Manhattan Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

When will the redness and dents after Fractional CO2 Laser heal?

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Hi. You have a very valid and common question. As a Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon and advance physician trainer for the Lumenis CO2 Active/Deep FX, I have been asked this question very frequently.

Acne scaring is the most difficult problem to solve with any type of resurfacing. It requires several treatments to really be able to improve significantly on this condition. Do not expect resolution or major improvements from only one procedure. This is the reason you are still seeing some of the acne scars. Also you are judging the results too soon.

Four weeks is too soon to really see the improvements that resurfacing can do. As a rule, you need about six months to allow collagen to be produced by your skin after resurfacing. This translate into waiting about six months to be able to see the maximum effects that a resurfacing can do.

The redness could be caused due to different causes:

  1. Early during the healing process after resurfacing, the skin will be red due to healing. There is nothing that you can do to improve this quickly. only time will take care of this. Usually it last about 3-4 weeks.
  2. If you are still red after 4 weeks, it could be possible that you have irritated the resurfaced skin. Many things could irritate the skin. Soap, perfume, pet dander, hair spray, tartar control tooth paste, colognes, deodorant, ammonia, detergents, etc. Make sure that you have no contact with those and wash your hands before you touch your face. The faster you identify what is irritating your face and quit exposing it to that irritant; the faster your face will stop being red.

Remember to always talk to your physician about any concerns that you have. Trust your face to a Facial Plastic Surgeon.

Gustavo A. Diaz, MD
Charlotte Facial 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.