Dr. Michael Santillanes M.D
CO2 Laser Resurfacing:
The CO2 laser is the gold standard for laser skin resurfacing in order to treat the effects of facial skin aging. The latest laser technology, the fractional CO2 laser, offers many of the benefits of the full face CO2 laser, with a fraction of the downtime. The laser is used to treat the effects of sun damage on the skin as well as facial skin aging. The laser can provide skin tightening, is used to treat dyschromia (brown spots and skin discoloration), even out the skin tone and color, remove fine lines and wrinkles, and to reduce the size of large pores.
Goals The laser is used to:
1) improve the skin tone
2) improve the skin color
3) improve the texture of the skin
4) improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
The Procedure: Depending on the desired results, as well as the type of skin you have; the laser settings will be determined by Dr. Santillanes. The laser is then used sequentially applied to the skin of your face, neck, and/or chest.
Anesthesia: Fractional CO2 laser skin resurfacing can be performed in the comfort of our office under local anesthesia. A prescription will be given to you, to take prior to the procedure in order to help relax you. Alternatively, the laser can also be performed in the procedure room under IV sedation.
Length of Time: The procedure takes approximately one hour to complete.
After the Procedure: You can go home immediately after your laser skin procedure. Specific instructions on how to take care of your skin both before and after the procedure will be given to you. It is important that you follow these instructions in order to obtain the best possible results.
Recovery: Over the next 3-5 days your skin will gently peel. During this time period you will keep the skin clean and moist with a vaseline type ointment. Once the skin is peeled, you can use make-up in order to cover any redness, if there is any.
CO2 Laser FAQs
What does the fractional CO2 laser do? The fractional CO2 laser is used to reverse the effects of facial skin aging and sun damage to the skin. The laser will have the effect of skin tightening, filling in lines and wrinkles, improving discoloration of the skin (brown spots), and improving the tone/texture of the skin itself. It also improves the appearnce of large pores
Before After Before After
The CO2 laser was used on her face, eyes and mouth in order to improve the appearance of the fine lines and wrinkles that occur. This is almost 3 months after the laser procedure. Notice the improvement in the lines on her face, eyes, and mouth. The skin color, tone, and texture is also better. What is the fractional CO2 laser used to treat? Since all parts of the face age together, most fractional laser treatments are aimed at the entire face. Specifically, the laser can target the loose skin around the eyes, including the fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes. The laser is also used to treat the peri-oral rhytids which are the fine lines of the upper lip and lower lip. Overall, the laser will treat the entire face in order to improve the appearance of your fine lines, wrinkles, the skin tone, skin color, and skin texture.
How long after the procedure will it take until I see results? You will see gradual improvement in the appearance of your skin immediately after the initial healing phase is complete at about 5 days. The CO2 laser stimulates collagen production in the dermis (deep skin layer) that helps fill in the fine lines of your face. Collagen build up takes up to 6 months to complete.
What makes the CO2 laser different from the traditional CO2 laser treatment? There is no question that the CO2 laser is the gold standard laser for facial skin resurfacing. However, despite unparalleled results, the traditional CO2 laser treated 100% of the skin and resulted in a long recovery process. It took up to 3 months for the skin to heal and this often resulted in a permanent skin lightening.
CO2 technology applies the same principles as the traditional laser, however modern computer technology has made it possible for the beam to be fractionated. What this means is that rather then treating the entire surface area of the skin, only a fraction of the skin is treated (for example 30% of the skin instead of 100%). In doing so, the laser leaves behind healthy and intact skin bridges, in between the treated areas. This allows for rapid healing of the skin while still maintaing the excellent results of CO2 laser technology.
How many treatments will I need? Only one treatment is necessary for the vast majority of patients. This is one of the many reasons that the CO2 laser is better then the older Fraxel treatments (erbium technology), which requires multiple treatments.
Where do you perform the laser procedure? CO2 laser is performed in the comfort of our office laser room or in our procedure / operating room.
What kind of anesthesia will you use? The CO2 laser is extremely effective because it is an ablative laser that targets the deepest layers of the skin. Since the laser penetrates the deep skin to stimulate collagen production, Dr. Santillanes will administer both a topical (on the skin) anesthetic as well as a local anesthetic (similar to when you go to the dentist). This will assure that you are very comfortable during the procedure. Some of our patients elect to have the fractional laser performed under twilight anesthesia / IV sedation.
Will I have any pain afterwards? No. Most patients say that the laser feel like a sun burn for about two hours after the procedure is completed. Once this goes away, you will have no pain.
Is there such a thing as a laser eyelid lift? Yes. Our fractional CO2 laser can produce substantial tightening of the upper and lower eyelids and may be a substitute as a laser blepharoplasty (eyelid lift). During your consultation, we will determine if the laser will be able to give you the results that you desire.
What about a laser brow lift? The brows can be elevated with the laser. Immediately during the procedure, skin tightening that results in brow elevation is seen as the laser is applied to the skin. This can effectively raise the eyebrow. However, it is important to understand that there is a limit to how much of a brow lift you can achieve with the laser. We will help you determine if this is the right procedure for you.
Will the laser work on acne scars? Yes. The fractional CO2 is an excellent tool to treat acne scarring. Dr. Santillanes can help you with your acne scars and will direct your treatment depending on what kind of acne scars you have.
Is it safe for all skin types and colors? Yes. One of the advantages of the fractional CO2 laser is that it is safe on almost all skin types.
Fractional CO2 laser was performed to improve the appearance of the fine lines around her mouth, known as the perioral rhytids. She is 8 months after co2 laser in this before and after photo. Are all fractional CO2 laser treatments the same? There are many laser manufacturers that make fractional co2 lasers. Each of these lasers have properties that make them different and thus they produce different results. It is very important to understand that the laser is a very sophisticated tool that can be used in different ways. Different kinds of laser energy profiles are delievered in different methods in order to produce results. This makes all the difference in terms of fractional CO2 laser results.
In simple terms this can be likened to a scalpel. In one surgeon's hands a scalpel can be used to perform an appendectomy (remove the appendix), but in another surgeon's hand is can be used to perform a facelift. The laser is similar and will produce different results depending on the user. For this reason, it is just as important to choose a laser surgeon that has a vast experience with a laser and has a proven results track record.
Which companies make the CO2 laser? There are multiple CO2 lasers on the market today. Since the technology is catching on (because it works well) more companies are manufacturing this laser. Some examples of this are: Lutronic eCO2 laser, Lumenis Active FX / Deep FX fractional CO2 laser, Pixel CO2, Candela Quadralase, Cynosure Affirm CO2, SmartXide DOT laser, Mixto CO2 laser, Sandstone Matrix, and Fraxel re:pair.
So which laser does Dr. Santillanes use? We have owned the DOT CO2 laser since it first came out. The laser profile and capabilities of this laser makes it, in our opinion, one of the best CO2 lasers on the market.
Does the CO2 laser help with redness of the skin or red spots? Redness of the skin is often cause by small blood vessels on the surface of the skin called telangiectasia. This can also be a sign of Rosacea. The laser wavelength of the CO2 laser (approximately 10,600nm) is not the ideal wavelength to treat redness. There are other lasers which are much more effective to treat this. Out goal is to provide you with the latest, most up to date and best available treatment for your condition. We will direct your treatment accordingly.
Do you perform the fractional CO2 laser on out of town patients? Yes. Patients fly in routinely to have surgery and laser procedures performed by Dr. Santillanes. Our office will help you coordinate your visit and stay in beautiful Newport Beach Ca.
Can this be combined with any other procedures? Yes. The CO2 laser can be combined with other surgical procedures such as stem cell fat grafting, liposculpture, etc.