As the name suggests, Fractional CO2 lasers are intended at removing target layers of skin via a fractional method. CO2 lasers have been found effective in treatment of freckles, lentigines and age spots, irregularities in the skin texture, scarring and discolouration. The method involves removal of the layers of skin in columns without disturbing the skin covering for each column. Given its non invasive approach in treatment, Fractional CO2 lasers are best means of treating wrinkles, Sun damaged skin, uneven pigmentation, sagging of skin and freckles. Besides, fractional CO2 lasers are effective in treating scars caused by acne, trauma and surgeries involving delicate regions such as, eyelids and around mouth. However, the treatment is not recommended for mitigating vascular lesions.

Fractional CO2 lasers: Treatment

The treatment is an in-patient procedure that is commenced with pre-operative and finished with a post-operative care. The procedure of treatment, using fractional CO2 lasers begins with administration of topical or local anaesthesia to the patient. The laser beam emitted by the fractional CO2 laser effectively heats the target skin tissue and vaporises it. The beams are pixellated into many shafts of light, as per the settings in the device. Therefore, the superficial cells are removed in the heating process. The skin by nature has a wired response to the heating process as the fibroblasts in the skin tissue instantly produce the required structural proteins like collagen, glycosaminoglycans and elastin for the regeneration of the skin tissue. The procedure is carried out on a precise calculation of thermal relaxation time, thereby aiding in faster rate of healing, post treatment. Fractional CO2 lasers have an advantage of having the longest wavelength in their laser beams and therefore, can be used for treating patients with dark skin. For patients who undergo this procedure for anomalies in their eyelids, are given special contact lenses for protection of eyes, before the procedure is commenced with.

Fractional CO2 lasers: Symptoms and Post-operative Care

Post treatment, the patient might experience symptoms as mentioned below:

  • Pain and a slight discomfort is experienced by the patient. However, medications prescribed by the doctor puts the patient at ease gradually.
  • Redness in the skin occurs in the aftermath and, may persist for a couple of weeks post the surgery. For people who are prone to blushing, the redness can take a couple of months to wean off, given the degree of the dilation in the blood vessels under their skin.
  • Peeling and swelling can occur in the first few days post treatment as, a laser treatment essentially inflicts a wound by dissolving skin tissues. Hence, the patients are advised to keep away from going out and getting exposed to Sun. Post-operative care includes administering of pain killers and ointments to mitigate the swelling.
  • Change in pigmentation of the skin can occur during the healing process in patients who have a darker skin. The change in pigmentation fades away though, in a span of three to six months if the patient follows every instruction as dictated by the surgeon, in the post-operative care regimen.

For every patient who undertakes laser treatment as a part of oculoplastic surgery has to understand that, results vary for every individual. Certain patients undergo a change in their emotional health as they may not get an instant result that they may have expected. However, with a proper adherence to the post-operative care regimen given by the doctor, the initial discomforts such as sensitivity and redness in the skin weans off. The skin shows considerable improvement over a period of 6 months, if the patient sticks to the regimen with a very little exposure to Sun. Usually, this procedure has been recommended for people in the age group 40 -70, who have dermatological anomalies in eyelids and around mouth. The efficacy of the treatment by Fractional CO2 lasers results in a considerable downtime. The downtime is directly proportional to the area and the degree of treatment and hence, ranges anywhere between three to ten days. Sometimes, fractional CO2 lasers are used in combination with other cosmetic treatments such as BOTOX and Wrinkle Relaxers, given that the area of treatment is different for both.

Patients who might be undergoing treatment for cancer, bleeding disorders, pregnancy and a weak immune system, are not advised to go for the procedure. It is always better to seek a good laser clinic wherein, the cosmetic procedures like removal of age spots, freckles, wrinkles, moles and other forms of precancerous growths on the skin and the eyelids, are performed by cosmetic surgeons who have a great expertise in cosmetic surgeries. Oculoplastic surgeons like Dr. Debraj Shome, who is currently the Head of Plastic Surgery Dept of Nova Specialty Surgery in Mumbai, has worked extensively on cosmetic and corrective surgeries that include oculoplastic surgeries too.