Old is the new nifty, and retro will always come back swinging! Not just vintage bell-bottoms, we’re talking about the reboot of your very own skin. The classic technology of carbon dioxide (CO2) laser treatment has become a rousing trend with millennials. Today, beauty buffs look to its promises of skin revival at the cost of minimal downtime.
We flip the hourglass and revisit the technology to see if it can truly make your skin’s time stand still.
What is Carbon Dioxide Laser?
If you haven’t already known, CO2 laser treatment is a US FDA approved skin treatment. It works by targeting water molecules and microscopically vaporizing the top layer of your skin. This triggers your skin’s natural collagen production to repair the damaged cells with new epidermal cells. The technology can tighten and improve skin conditions such as:
- Facial lines and wrinkles
- Sunspots, age spots, freckles, and melasma
- Acne scarring
- Moles, warts, and birthmarks
- Stretch marks
A Small Price to Pay
If you think you’re walking out your dermatologist’s office with glowing skin of a goddess, we hate to burst that bubble. The miracle of skin rebirth does not happen instantaneously. As the treatment involves some cellular damage, NYC dermatologist Dr. Robert Anolik says it’s normal to experience swollen, scabby or bloody skin for about a week after the treatment, and pink skin for up to a month. But good things come to those who wait. Recovery happens in 2 weeks and your skin condition will continue to regenerate over the next 6 months. That’s considered a worthy short downtime in exchange for resilient and elasticity-restored skin, don’t you think?
Advancements in CO2 Laser Resurfacing
Did you know that CO2 laser technology was invented in 1964, but was only applied to skin resurfacing in 1990? Truth is, the treatment wasn’t always as safe. Old models often resulted in unpredictable outcomes such as scarring and pigment changes. Thankfully, technology has evolved and improved over time.
Although old ablative devices still exist on the market today, many doctors have upgraded their erbium devices to yield better results. Today, when we talk about a safe and more effective treatment, we’re talking about the Er: YAG Laser. YAG lasers allow for superficial, pin-pointed, and targeted treatment instead of exposing surrounding skin cells to excessive ablation as in the past. Dr. Anolik explains that this allows for faster healing and more controlled maintenance of the patient’s natural skin color.
Why The Big Boom?
Dr. Sejal Shah tells his patients that a session of CO2 laser reaps the same effect as 4 rounds of non-ablative Fraxel treatment. Beauty seekers today might be getting antsy with the costly ineffectiveness of less invasive procedures such as Fraxel. Dermatologists everywhere, are hence seeing an increased demand for CO2 laser treatments. Trends show that patients in their 40s or 50s are keener in resurfacing treatments while younger individuals may opt for other cosmetic treatments such as skin brightening with no down-time.
Is the Treatment for Me?
According to facial plastic surgeon Dr. Sarmela Sunder, the CO2 laser treatment is not recommended for patients with deeper complexions. This is due to the higher risk of hyperpigmentation or skin darkening. But here’s some bonus great news for the fair-skinned. Did you know that ablative lasers can also destroy pre-cancerous cells in the skin? The technology is also increasingly used as finishing touches for facelifts, and as an alternative to eyelid surgery and micro-needling.
Old technology, new tweaks, same beauty goals. Up for a week of raw, ruddy recovery and strict sun avoidance? If so, we predict tighter skin and elastic tone in your cards!