Fractional CO2 Laser

As we grow older, our cellular turnover rate (the rate at which new skin cells are produced to replace older ones) slows down. This means that older, less vibrant and potentially damaged skin cells get sloughed off less frequently, leaving clogged pores, dark spots, dryness, dullness, wrinkles, and other cosmetic concerns.

The skin of our faces is almost constantly exposed to the elements, including the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. Sun exposure is one of the most significant factors when it comes to signs of aging.

While your sun exposure, diet, activity and stress levels, sleep, hormones and genetics play a part in your rate of cellular regeneration, everyone experiences slower cellular turnover as they age. While it’s impossible to stop this aging process, the fractional CO2 laser offers a cosmetic treatment that can rejuvenate your skin.

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What Is Fractional CO2 Laser Treatment?

The fractional CO2 laser is a carbon dioxide ablative laser that minimizes sun damage and produces smoother, firmer skin and even skin tone. This treatment dramatically reduces or eliminates signs of aging to produce more youthful skin.

What Is Ablative Skin Resurfacing?

As opposed to non-ablative skin resurfacing, which does not penetrate as deep into the skin, this ablative treatment removes the outer layers of aged or damaged skin. This process reveals tighter, smoother, younger-looking skin below the surface. Ablative lasers also penetrate the deeper layers of the skin to stimulate collagen renewal. Ablative laser procedures are performed by Dr. Umansky.

What Does the “Fractional” Part of the CO2 Laser Mean?

The “fractional” in fractional laser means it only treats a fraction of the skin’s surface, leaving columns of healthy skin between columns of treated skin for faster healing. The carbon dioxide laser beams deliver thermal damage to microscopic areas, leaving small adjacent areas intact. These intact areas allow for faster healing with less redness and lower risk for pigmentation changes. The fractional aspect of the CO2 laser provides great benefits compared to a fully ablative laser.

What Can the Fractional CO2 Laser Treat?

The fractional CO2 laser is extremely effective for treating the following skin concerns:

  • Fine lines
  • Coarse wrinkles
  • Scarring
  • Skin discoloration
    • Dark spots/sun spots
    • Freckles
    • Other pigmented lesions
    • Uneven skin tone
  • Rough or bumpy skin texture
  • Dry skin

Will I Need Multiple Treatments?

Facial rejuvenation with the fractional CO2 laser typically only requires a single treatment. Certain areas with deep wrinkles (such as around the mouth) often benefit from a second treatment approximately six months later.

What to Expect During Fractional CO2 Laser Recovery

How Long Will Recovery Take?

Recovery time after CO2 laser resurfacing ranges from five to 14 days.

Will I Peel After My Fractional CO2 Laser Procedure?

After your treatment, your skin will typically swell and look as though it’s sunburned. Some areas may weep fluid. Flaking, peeling and redness will be part of the healing process within 7-10 days. Some patients also experience itchiness as their skin heals. This side effect is completely normal and is part of the healing process.

How Can I Speed Up Healing After CO2 Laser Treatment?

To help you heal faster after treatment, we suggest gently cleansing your skin with a gentle cleanser. Then, apply the products recommended by Dr. Umansky to nourish and protect your skin.

Elevating your head on extra pillows when you sleep helps to reduce swelling. Using cool compresses for the first 48 hours can also help reduce swelling and inflammation.

What Should I Avoid After My Fractional Laser Treatment?

We recommend taking it easy for a few days after treatment, which means minimal exercise and avoiding strenuous activities. To avoid irritation and UV damage, keep your skin out of the sun and do not use products with retinol or hydroxy acids like glycolic acid for at least eight weeks. It is recommended to avoid other skin treatments or waxing the treated area for three months. We recommend talking to Dr. Umansky if you are considering another cosmetic treatment soon after your laser treatment.

When you come into our office, we’ll provide you with a complete list of things to avoid after treatment to ensure the best results possible.

How Long Do Fractional CO2 Laser Results Last?

Because this is a dramatic resurfacing treatment, you can expect your resulting younger skin to be permanently improved. However, the natural aging process will continue. You can help your laser treatment results last longer by using sunscreen every day, as well as using a recommended skincare regimen.

How Often Should I Get CO2 Laser Treatments?

You can opt to undergo maintenance treatments as often as every year to preserve your smoother, more youthful complexion.

If you notice other cosmetic skin concerns sooner, you can get gentler treatments more frequently. Your options include non-invasive procedures like Diamond Glow resurfacing, facials, chemical peels, and microneedling.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is the Fractional CO2 Laser Painful?

Topical anesthesia is used and applied about one hour prior to the procedure. Most patients find that this makes the procedure very tolerable and say it feels like tingling or prickling on their skin. Local anesthesia blocks can also be used for patients who have more pain sensitivity.

Do You Offer Other Laser Treatments at U Laser Med Spa?

Yes, we offer a range of laser treatments at our laser medical spa and can help you choose the ideal one for your concerns. We offer non-ablative fractional laser treatment, IPL (intense pulsed light) facials and laser treatments for stretch marks and leg veins. These procedures are performed by our caring and skilled laser nurses.

Can I Combine Other Treatments With Fractional CO2 Laser Resurfacing?

Fractional CO2 is often combined with other cosmetic procedures such as facelift and eyelid surgeries.

Why Choose Umansky Plastic Surgery andU Laser Med Spa for My Laser Treatment?

Led by board-certified plastic surgeons in San Diego, Umansky Plastic Surgery and U Laser MedSpa are all about providing scientifically-backed cosmetic procedures and putting the needs of our patients first. We pride ourselves on offering only treatments that have been thoroughly researched and proven to be effective. Safety is of the utmost concern, as well as providing natural-looking results. We make sure that patients do not feel rushed, and we believe in taking our time to help you understand your procedure options and answer all of your questions.

By combining an artful eye, extensive experience, and science, both Dr. Umanskys are dedicated to helping you achieve the best cosmetic results.

Rejuvenate and Refresh Your Skin With CO2 Laser Resurfacing in San Diego

To learn more about fractional CO2 laser treatment at our San Diego office, schedule your consultation with our experts. Call Umansky Plastic Surgery at 858-281-4560 today!