Fractional CO2 Laser

What is Fractional CO2 Laser?

Fractional CO2 laser is a non-invasive and non-surgical aesthetic procedure to treat acne scars. With one of the longest wavelengths of laser light around, Fractional CO2 Laser is considered the gold standard for treating acne scars in Singapore.

Apart from acne scars, Fractional CO2 Laser is also effective for wrinkles and enlarged pores, uneven skin texture and sagging skin, and skin rejuvenation.

How does Fractional CO2 Laser work?

The key aim of Fractional CO2 Laser is to ablate scar tissue and stimulate collagen production to restore collagen and tissue loss — acne scars are formed when excessive inflammation from acne destroys collagen, causing tissue loss. Fractional CO2 laser uses an advanced robotic scanner to distribute multiple microscopic beams of ultrapulse CO2 across the treatment area. This allows deeper penetration, accelerates healing time, reduces discomfort and increases safety.

During the treatment, thousands of micro thermal beams penetrate deep into the layers of the skin, creating numerous microscopic thermal injury zones without harming the surrounding tissue. Once the microscopic injury triggers the skin, collagen production begins, thus forming new skin cells to replace older damaged skin and scar tissue.

Both the injured targeted areas and surrounding healthy tissue will experience healthy production, which allows overall rejuvenation of the skin. This is the beauty of Fractional CO2 laser.

What are some of the areas that Fractional CO2 Laser can treat?

Fractional CO2 Laser is primarily used on the face to treat acne scars, such as icepick scar, boxcar scar, rolling scar and hypertrophic acne scars. With the advent of other technologies such as fractional radiofrequency microneedling, Dr Wan uses fractional CO2 laser more frequently to blend in scars that are almost flat, such as post-inflammatory erythema, surgical scars post suture removal, depressed scars following mole removals, etc.

Am I a good candidate for Fractional CO2 Laser treatment?

Many patients who deal with pesky acne scars and wish to rebuild lost collagen in the skin make great candidates for Fractional CO2 Laser treatment.

Fractional CO2 Laser is very effective for atrophic scars and is the most common acne scar treatment in Singapore. However, patients with deeper or tethered scars might find fractional radiofrequency microneedling or subcision treatment more effective than Fractional CO2 Laser.

Fractional CO2 Laser is also perfect for patients who want to minimise enlarged pores on their skin and for those from their late 20s looking to maintain collagen production.

What is the process of getting Fractional CO2 Laser like?

After cleansing the patient’s face, a strong numbing cream will be applied for 20-30 minutes. The procedure is split into two parts — during the first part, the doctor will use a high powered setting from the Fractional CO2 Laser to target each individual acne scar. Following which, a lower laser power is used on the rest of the face to improve skin texture and skin rejuvenation.

Each treatment takes about 15-30 minutes, depending on the condition.

Are there any side effects of Fractional CO2 Laser treatment? What is the downtime like?

After the procedure, patients may experience redness and peeling in the affected areas, similar to being sun burnt. The downtime highly depends on the severity of the patient’s acne scars, which will determine the aggressiveness of the laser. In general, the downtime takes about 7 days.

Patients are recommended to avoid direct and prolonged sun exposure for approximately 2 weeks or more.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Numbing cream will be applied before the procedure to ensure that discomfort is minimal. At most, pricking sensations may be experienced but most patients rate the pain 2/5.

Your doctor will advise you on the number of treatment sessions required, but 4-6 sessions spaced about a month apart are ideal. Obvious improvements are usually seen about 2 to 3 months in as collagen remodelling and skin tightening continues.

Ensure you use a gentle cleanser a week post-laser treatment, and do not exfoliate. Keep skin hydrated by moisturising twice a day and avoid direct exposure to sunlight. Always apply sunscreen. Avoid using skin products with acidic content for a week and use a soothing toner to cleanse face.

Traditional ablative lasers directly erode the skin’s surface in a large broad manner, while fractional ultrapulse CO2 laser delivers an array of precise high powered microbeams to allow outer skin to be largely intact. The untreated skin areas encourage faster healing and the areas treated by the CO2 microbeams is less sensitive to sun damage, thus promoting collagen production with less risk such as pigment changes.

Apart from acne scars, Fractional CO2 Laser can also treat pigmentation, melasma (very carefully), fine lines and wrinkles, enlarged pores, uneven skin texture, warts, skin tags, tattoos and more.

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