Ask a Cosmetic Dermatologist Expert about Fractional CO2 Laser Resurfacing Austin Texas

Have you ever considered a cosmetic dermatology procedure, but had a question you couldn’t find the answer to online?  Can you really trust the information you find on Yahoo Answers, Twitter or Google?  Here’s your chance to ask a cosmetic dermatology expert!  Every month, Dr. Zimmet will provide up-to-date answers to frequently asked skincare & cosmetic dermatology questions submitted to his blog.

May’s topic is Fractional CO2 Laser Resurfacing.

Does laser resurfacing hurt?

Laser resurfacing feels hot. We find that it’s pretty well tolerated with good topical anesthestics that are applied an hour before the treatment, along with local anesthetic nerve blocks and a cold air blower (Zimmer Chiller). We also offer Xanax to help you relax and a pain medication, if desired.

Why take Valtrex before CO2 fractional laser?

Valtrex is used to prevent a herpes fever blister outbreak. Many, if not most physicians recommend this for all patients undergoing facial resurfacing, even if there is no history of fever blisters.

What are pre-op instructions for fractional C02 laser?

Below is Dr. Zimmet’s fractionated CO2 (Active/Deep FX) pre-op care instructions:

-Avoid sun exposure and self-tanning cream for 4 weeks

-Avoid topical exfoliation for 2 weeks

-Understand the post-op care, and prepare by getting old pillowcases, shirts, etc

-Start the antiviral (Zovirax, Valtrex), if prescribed, the day before the procedure

- Eat a meal the morning of the procedure

-Shower and wash your face with an anti-bacterial soap

-Shampoo your hair

-Wear an old button-down shirt

Women (morning of procedure):

Do not use make-up, mascara, lipstick, lotions

Don’t wear jewelry

Do not use hair products of any kind

Do not use perfume

Men(morning of procedure)

Do not use any lotions on your face

Do not use hair products

Shave areas to be treated

What are post treatment instructions for fractional CO2 treatment?

Your physician should provide clear and preferably written instructions on how to care for your skin. The most important things are to apply Aquaphor to the treated area several times a day, and to be very gentle with your skin. Check out our survival guide for fractionated CO2 resurfacing.

Will I experience skin dryness after fractional C02 laser?

Your skin may ooze for the first day or so. We recommend Aquaphor ointment to speed healing. Without Aquaphor ointment, your skin would become very dry. Letting your skin dry out will greatly impede healing, so the Aquaphor or similar ointment is very important.

Can I use Cerave moisturizer after laser resurfacing?

I recommend nothing but Aquaphor ointment until your skin peels, generally about 5-6 days for the face. Following this, we advise SkinCeuticals Epidermal Repair for about 1-2 weeks.  Beyond 2 weeks, we recommend daily application of moisturizers like Cerave or Cetaphil.

What is the recovery time for fractionated CO2?

Recovery time depends on the area treated, the depth/aggressiveness of treatment and on the individual. Generally you can expect the following for the initial major healing phase: Face 5-6 days, Neck 7-10 days, Chest 10-14 days.

Should I ice my face after CO2 fractional laser?

Cold compresses or ice packs can help reduce the sunburn sensation that is typical the first day after treatment, and help reduce swelling.

Should I lay down after fractional laser?

You may be tired after the treatment, and laying down is fine. However, I do recommend sleeping with your head elevated for a couple of days, to help minimize facial swelling.

What are some tips for healing from C02 active laser?

The most important things are to apply Aquaphor to the treated area several times  a day, and to be very gentle with your skin. Your physician should provide clear and preferably written instructions on how to care for your skin. Check out our survival guide for fractionated CO2 resurfacing.

When does peeling start after fractional C02?

Peeling can start within a day or so, and is usually completed by day 5-6.

What does it look like when you have fractionated C02?

Your skin will usually be rather red for about a week, with gradual fading over a several week period. In my experience things look much better once the treated skin is fully peeled, usually about 5-6 days after treatment. There may be some oozing the first day, and swelling may be present the first few days. Learn more by reading our laser resurfacing diary.

Why does your face itch after fractional laser?

Itching is very common after fractionated CO2 resurfacing. The underlying cause probably relates to nerve signals stimulated by the inflammation and healing process. Medication such as Benadryl may be recommended if the itching is significant, but don’t drive or do similar activites as Benadryl can cause drowsiness.

Photo: By Craig Cloutier