Fractional CO2 Laser

What is Fractional CO2?

Fractional CO2 is a form of laser skin resurfacing in which your skin is treated with a matrix of laser pulses that vary in intensity and depth (your specific treatment will be customized depending on your skin type, the treatment area and the desired treatment effects.)

Fractional CO2 has been proven effective in treating:

  • Smoothing fine lines and wrinkles
  • Enhancing skin tone and texture
  • Eliminating effects of sun damage
  • Diminishing scars

Fractional C02 lasers deliver energy to a “fraction” of the tissue at a time, which allows for similar results to the older, non-fractional C02 technology but with less downtime. 


What areas are best for fractional CO2?

Fractional CO2 is often used on areas with most notable sun-damaged skin, especially the face. Lower eyelid skin, which can be challenging to treat with other modalities, is particularly well-suited for fractional CO2. Fractional C02 laser is considered the gold standard laser treatment for diminishing fine lines and wrinkles of the skin under and around the eyes.

How is fractional CO2 different than Fraxel?

CO2 is an ablative laser, which means that it removes the superficial layers of the skin and dermis. Fraxel is a non-ablative laser, which means it does not remove any skin. Fraxel still induces the skin to peel and regenerate, but because of the non-ablative nature of the laser, the downtime and healing are overall faster.

Healing after an ablative laser (CO2) in which pixels of skin are removed is more significant. However, it is through this healing process that a more significant tightening effect is also achieved. As mentioned above, by “fractionating” the laser, recovery time is significantly reduced from traditional ablative lasers, but it is the skin and tissue response is markedly more robust as compared to a non-ablative modality. Ultimately, these are different lasers, and although both improve skin texture and tone, they do have slightly different applications. Your doctor can help you to decide what treatment is best for you.

How is fractional CO2 performed?

Fractional CO2 is easily performed in the office. A topical anesthetic is applied to the treatment area(s) 1 hour in advance of the treatment. You can expect some moderate discomfort during the procedure, but the topical anesthetic typically makes any discomfort tolerable. The treatment length can vary from 10-30 minutes depending on the size of the treatment area.

What can I expect after my procedure?

Immediately following the procedure, you can expect a sensation similar to a sunburn which will last several hours. You can expect redness like a bad sunburn followed by peeling of dead skin from the treatment area. This natural exfoliation and healing process typically lasts 7-10 days. Residual pinkness may take 3-6 weeks to resolve.

Is fractional CO2 right for me?

A consult ahead of your treatment is important to evaluate whether you would be a good candidate for this type of treatments. Treatments can vary based on your skin type, your goals and the extent of skin resurfacing desired.

To prepare for your treatment, please avoid excessive sun exposure beginning approximately 1 month before treatment. Please also stop any acids or retinoids/ retinols at least 1 week before treatment. For maximum improvement, we ask that you also avoid the sun for 1 month after treatment. If you have a history of cold sores, please make your provider aware. It may be recommended that you take a cold sore medication prior to the appointment to minimize flare.

You should NOT get fractional CO2 if you have a history of:

  • Keloid formation or excessive scarring
  • Are currently pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Are on systemic steroids such as prednisone or dexamethasone
  • Are on photosensitive medications such as isotretinoin (Accutane) and tetracyclines (Doxycycline) 

Frequently Asked Questions About SofWave Technology

SofWave treatments are ideal for individuals who are looking to reduce the appearance of skin laxity, wrinkles and fine lines without surgery. Good candidates should be in overall good health and have realistic expectations for the outcome of the treatment. It is important to consult with a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon before undergoing any cosmetic procedure.

The cost of SofWave treatments vary depending on the size and number of areas being treated. During your intial consultation, your doctor will be able to provide you with an estimate of the cost.

Most patients start to see results from their SofWave treatments within a few weeks, with continued improvement over time. The full effects of the treatment may take up to six months.

Similar to all other procedures and treatments, side effects will vary depending on the individual. Generally, the most common side effects associated with SofWave treatments are mild swelling, redness and bruising. Your doctor will discuss any potential side effects prior to treatment.

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