How Long Does CO2 Laser Resurfacing Take to Heal?


Laser skin resurfacing with CO2 lasers is frequently recognized as the gold standard for treating wrinkles, age spots, acne scars or other skin blemishes, as well as firming skin and balancing tone. Oftentimes, however, these ablative techniques can lead to considerable downtime depending on how the laser settings are configured. The amount of downtime needed after CO2 laser treatment depends on a variety of factors.

At Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting, our board-certified dermatologists offer innovative treatments that harness the power of CO2 laser technology to provide fractional ablative treatments with lower risks and customizable downtime. In essence, patients who desire to achieve dramatic results in as few treatments as possible should plan for more downtime, whereas patients who undergo a series of less aggressive treatments may be able to reduce their downtime after each treatment.

An Innovative Way to Harness the Power of CO2 Laser Technology

CO2 laser technology has evolved tremendously over the past decade. Traditional CO2 lasers have developed a reputation for being aggressive, painful and even capable of leaving scars behind. Fortunately, new CO2 laser treatments are much safer, require less downtime and yield impressive results. 

For example, one of the latest forms of CO2 laser technology, CoolPeel, delivers a fractional ablative treatment without the risks or downtime of traditional CO2 lasers. It utilizes the SmartXide Tetra CO2 laser, an advanced CO2 laser that stands apart from other lasers because it delivers high levels of energy in extremely short pulses. This method works by removing thin layers of skin while reducing unnecessary heat and minimizing heat damage to surrounding areas of skin, thereby reducing downtime. For individuals seeking a treatment that provides more youthful-looking and even skin, CoolPeel’s CO2 fractional laser provides an immediate aesthetic effect with customizable downtime.

CoolPeel recovery times can vary slightly depending on the size of the area treated, depth of the laser penetration and whether there were combination treatments used. After any treatment, most patients can expect to experience minor redness similar to a sunburn for one to two days after their treatment. After about two weeks, any redness or dryness will transition into bright and healthy-looking skin.  

Enhancing CO2 Laser Resurfacing Results

The results of CO2 laser resurfacing can be enhanced by combining treatments with other skin-improving technologies such as RF Microneedling or BroadBand Light™ (BBL) treatments.

RF Microneedling

RF Microneedling and CoolPeel treatments can be completed in the same session without resulting in an increased amount of downtime of redness. This combination of treatments can trigger collagen regrowth and produce more enhanced skin tightening results and improved texture due to the radiofrequency energy delivered deep beneath the skin’s surface. 

BroadBand Light™

CoolPeel can also be combined with BBL treatments which are able to target brown spots and early signs of aging. When combined with CoolPeel’s targeted treatment for fine lines and wrinkles, this combination treatment is ideal for patients combating sunspots, uneven tone or other skin conditions resulting from sun damage. BBL treatments can be conducted in the same session with CoolPeel treatments resulting in minimal discomfort and customizable downtime.

What to Expect After CO2 Laser Resurfacing

Immediately following a CoolPeel treatment, it is common to experience some minor redness similar to a sunburn, but this redness should not interfere with routine activities. Patients are encouraged to wear physical sunblock after the treatment and can even wear makeup. As your skin recovers, hydration is important, as skin can feel dry or scaly. As your skin works to shed its dead skin cells and collagen production is increased, however, you will begin to see brighter and healthier skin within a week or two following treatment. Keep in mind that the amount of downtime needed after CO2 laser resurfacing can be completely customized based on your unique needs. 

Side Effects of CO2 Laser Resurfacing

Possible side effects of CO2 laser skin resurfacing include acne flares, milia (small white bumps), prolonged redness, swelling or other conditions. In the case of acne flares, your dermatologist will recommend a personalized treatment plan. Any other side effects of CO2 laser skin resurfacing are almost always temporary, subsiding after a few days.

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Prior to your CO2 laser resurfacing treatment, your cosmetic team at Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting will meet with you to discuss your health, lifestyle and goals for the treatment in order to determine the best treatment plan and to discuss any potential side effects. Your concerns, goals, safety and comfort are always top-of-mind when developing a treatment plan. 

CO2 Laser Treatment Aftercare 

To obtain the best results following your laser resurfacing treatment, it is important to continue to care for your skin by applying doctor-recommended creams or serums to the treated areas a few times per day. It is also extremely important to protect your skin by avoiding excess sun exposure and using a high-quality sunblock.

Schedule your appointment at Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting to find out more about CO2 treatments and how to take advantage of this gold standard in aesthetic laser treatments.