Fractional or Pixilated carbon dioxide (CO2) Laser Skin Resurfacing treatment is a non-invasive treatment and one of the latest technological advancements done for skin rejuvenation. It is also called the anti-aging breakthrough of the 21st Century! It gives the most dramatic results for severely scarred facial skin. Fractional CO2 laser treatment is excellent for the treatment of deep wrinkles, severe textured changes due to the sun, acne, acne scars, surgical scars etc. CO2 has the largest wavelength and can be applied to darker skin types also with appropriate settings.
The skin consists of three layers, the epidermis (outer layer), dermis (mid layer) and subcutis (lower fat layer).
The epidermis contains melanocytes that are responsible for the colour of the skin.
The mid layer, that is dermis, consists of collagen and elastin fibers that are responsible for the strength, elasticity and toughness of the skin.
Due to aging, the outer layer, that is epidermis, becomes thinner, thus revealing the blemishes. Also, the collagen in the dermis, reduces gradually that leads to the formation of facial lines, sagging and wrinkled skin.
In Fractional laser treatment, both epidermis and dermis are targeted. In this procedure, the fractional CO2 laser machine fractionates, or pixellates the CO2 laser rays into thousands of tiny shafts of light that penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin, thus removing the outer layer of the skin tissue and helps in the formation of new collagen.
The number of treatment sessions needed depends on the severity of skin damage due to sun, scars or wrinkles, stretch marks, traumatic scar and also on how much downtime you can afford to have.
The factors like size, extent, depth, location, skin quality and age of the patient are also important.
Type of system that is used is also a very important consideration to decide the number of sessions needed. Generally, just 2-4 treatment sessions are needed and are sufficient for a more aggressive CO2 fractional laser treatment, but 4–6 treatment sessions are also needed for non-ablative lasers which have lesser downtime associated with them.
The overall rate of complications associated with fractional laser skin resurfacing is much lower than with traditional ablative techniques. Complications might involve below:
After the treatment, the skin may be red and feel burnt. This redness might last for one to two weeks. Moisturizing the treated area is very important to avoid the formation of scars. A wrapped ice pack may be applied for 15 minutes every one to two hours for the first 24-48 hours of the treatment. An occlusive cream must be used that promotes healing and soothes the skin. The sun must be avoided completely till the treated area heals completely, else it might lead to hyperpigmentation. The skin heals in approximately two weeks.