C02 Laser - The good, the bad, and the ugly (in pictures!)
Updated: Dec 1, 2020
As a mother of 4 active, young kids, I rarely have time to focus on this elusive idea of self-care. I'm nearing a milestone birthday and becoming more aware of the acne scars from my youth. I've been seeing a dermatologist for the last several years, perfecting my skincare routine with medical-grade skincare (what a big difference it's made!) However, it was time to make the leap and consider a real "treatment" to address the scarring.
Amanda Caldwell, APRN, recommended the Encore C02 Laser (also called Refractional Laser.) I had a regular treatment (Active FX) on the top half of my face and a deep treatment (Deep FX) on the lower part of my face, where I had more scarring. I had my treatment done at KMC Dermatology in Leawood, Kansas and I could not be more pleased with the results!
What is an Encore C02 Laser? Amanda Caldwell, APRN (practicing in the Kansas City area: Leawood and Independence) explains UltraPulse Encore CO2 laser has been on the market as the gold standard for skin resurfacing. It delivers thousands of tiny laser pulses in a pattern over the skin. Each pulse heats a column of tissue eliminating pigment discolorations at the surface and creating a zone of heating deep in the tissue.
What are the benefits? Amanda answers,
Reduced wrinkles and fine lines*
Immediate collagen tightening*
Softens deep lines*
Improved skin tone and texture*
Stimulates new collagen formation*
Improves texture, tone, and pore size*
Erase unwanted age spots and even out skin tone*
Smooth skin texture and imperfections such as acne scars*
*results may vary
Once I arrived, I had a numbing cream applied liberally on my face and neck. That soaked in for about 45 mins, then they cleaned it off and prepped my skin with alcohol. The provider applied my metal eye protection and we got started! She started at my forehead with the regular (Active FX) treatment, it was about a 3 or 4 pain level and sounded like a bug zapper. As she started the deep treatment along my jaw, it was louder but still not painful, maybe a 6? I did bleed a bit in the deep treatment areas, and that is to be expected. My neck was more sensitive, but worth it. The whole treatment took only about 20 minutes and was not too painful. The treated areas felt hot and tight, like a very bad sunburn.
Things I liked:
The PA was tapping my head throughout the procedure. It was distracting and very comforting at the same time.
I wore a t-shirt. I became hot quickly! There were fans in the room and I was given a small handheld fan too, all much appreciated!
The PA applied a thick, soothing layer of Aquaphor at the end and gave me a cooling pack.
Amanda recommends you have these products on hand: a mild cleanser, Vaseline or Aquaphor, and SPF 30 for post-treatment care. You will be prescribed medications before your appointment, as well. All patients receive pre-operative antiviral prophylaxis and an antibiotic beginning one day pre-operatively and continued for 10 days. This is prophylaxis to prevent risk of infection and promote healing.
THE FIRST NIGHT:
Immediately after the treatment, I could not wait for the Aquaphor to be applied. I wanted something to soothe the heat radiating from my skin. My treatment areas were throbbing. After the Aquaphor, the PA also applied zinc sunscreen. My sensitive and fair skin felt hot for almost two hours after. I was given an ice pack and handheld fan for the drive home. The deep treatment areas began bleeding more. My skin felt tight and hot.
I had prepared my children, that my face would look different when I returned home. But my three year old took one look at me and ran the other direction screaming. So there's that. Ha!
I slept well the first night. I tried to stay on my back, put a towel over my pillow, and slathered on the Aquaphor! It is important to keep your wound moist, so it can properly heal.
DAY ONE POST TREATMENT:
My first day went great! I did not feel any pain, my redness was better. My skin still felt tight. I had a warm shower but did not wash my face or hair until 24 hours after treatment. I kept applying Aquaphor every few hours. Note the white leftover zinc sunscreen in the second photo.
DAY TWO POST TREATMENT:
I woke up and gently washed my face. I am becoming itchy and notice the brownish/red pattern appearing on my face. The blood is washing away and I am starting to peel. By evening, the skin tightness returned. I was still liberally applying Aquahor.
This is the peak of my redness! 48 hours after the treatment. I certainly feel like Freddy Krueger at this stage.
DAY THREE POST TREATMENT:
I was looking less red, but you can still see the laser pattern on my skin. The blood is still washing away, as well as dead skin. My face feels tight and gritty. I had to go out into public for the first time that afternoon. By evening my skin felt very gritty and was peeling a lot! I experienced some itching and I was sick of feeling greasy, but being the rule follower I am, I liberally applied more Aquaphor.
DAY FOUR POST TREATMENT:
I'm starting to look more like myself. I was surprised about the improvement overnight! Redness is going down, swelling going down, still peeling, but not as bad. I'm seeing my brand new, very pink skin. Sunscreen is part of my routine and will be forever. I'm telling you, the medical-grade skincare regimen I started makes a huge difference. Daily sunscreen use will help the results of this procedure last!
DAY SIX POST TREATMENT:
I am back to work! Still no make up. I have very pink, new skin. I was done with the Aquaphor, but did wear zinc sunscreen! Definitely plan on trying to lay low for about one week after this procedure. This is the earliest I felt okay being seen by anyone other than my family!
ONE WEEK POST TREATMENT:
Wow! I feel like a new woman. The last week was an act of patience, but I am so happy I did the C02 laser. My pores are small, my skin is extremely smooth, my skin tone is even, my fine lines are gone and my acne scars already look softer. I can expect my collagen to continue to plump for the next six months, so that is when I will see the final results.
Here I am six months post-treatment and now 40 years old. Six months is peak collagen plumping time. I get complimented on my skin and not looking 40 and I really credit the C02 laser, I've never had "good" skin. My acne scarring is not completely gone, but I feel it's greatly improved. Would I do it again? Absolutely and I plan on it! It's safe and provides amazing results.
How many treatments will you need? Pending an individual's skin needs and goals, Amanda says you many require 1 to 3 treatments, spread at least 6 to 12 months apart.
Are you a candidate for the C02 Laser? Aging makes our skin show effects from the sun, gravity, and even laughing with lines and wrinkles that make us look older than we feel. A good candidate has wrinkling and facial lines, facial scars, or uneven pigmentation. Amanda notes, Patients with darker skin tones have a greater risk of healing with darker pigmentation (hyperpigmentation). The best way to find out if you are a good candidate is to call our KMC Dermatology office in Leawood and schedule an appointment.
KMC Dermatology & MedSpa Leawood
11301 Nall Ave, Ste. 205
Leawood, KS 66211
Ask for Ryan.
Or request an appointment on our website - www.kmcpa.com