There are so many laser products on the market it gets difficult to know which is best for you. Here we will give a brief summary of laser resurfacing technology in the hope of shedding light on the topic. C02 laser technology has been around for many years. The C02 refers to Carbon Dioxide the medium by which this laser operates. The original CO2 lasers were a surgical device. These lasers would burn or evaporate a layer of skin and allow the skin to repair itself resulting in less wrinkles and smoother more youthful appearance. There were a few problems with the original CO2 lasers as it required a significant healing time and the skin could scar or heal in with a lighter colour called hypopigmentation.
Over the past decade there has been a move to develop lasers that have less downtime, excellent results and less risk. The next generation resurfacing technology was the Erbium laser which was developed to have less healing downtime, and less risk of hypopigmentation. Overall this laser had its applications but had a much more limited ability to treat significant signs of aging and sun damaged skin. Afew years ago lasers changed dramatically in their delivery system. Laser would deliver their beam in a fractionated pattern. This meant that when the laser was delivered instead of treating the entire skin surface the laser could vaporize or heat cores or holes into the skin. It was as if a laser was shot through a filter and only parts of the beam hit the skin. This allowed bridges of normal skin to not be damaged by the laser beam. The bridge of unlasered skin would allow for quicker healing and less risk of hypopigmentation. The most common devices included the Fraxel laser and the Profractional laser. These worked similarly but the physical properties of each company’s laser were different. The Profractional and the Fraxel are erbium based lasers with fractionated technology. Both of these technologies are good but require multiple treatments over months to obtain noticeable results.
The newest technology on the block is the fractionated C02 laser. This technology takes the old C02 technology and applies the Fractionated delivery system. This Technology allows all the benefit of the old C02 power and lessens the risk of scarring and hypopigmentation. Most patients will notice often dramatic results from one treatment. The Downtime of this technology is about 7-10 days of red flaking skin. The skin will improve from one treatment for a number of months. The two lasers of this type on the market are the Fraxel C02 laser and the UltraPulse Fractionated C02 laser. Dr. Solomon has obtained the first Ultrapulse in the GTA. Both of the C02 Fractionated technologies are great and really offer the gold standard of skin resurfacing. I like the Ultrapulse as it offers flexible settings. The Ultrapulse C02 has an Active FX setting which is great for pore size, fine lines, and overall skin tightening. The Deep FX setting allows treatment of acne scars, deep wrinkles and surgical scars.
Many of the patients we treat obtain both Active FX and Deep FX treatment at the same time. We first do the Deep FX in the areas that require it and then go over the entire face with the active treatment. The results are like no other laser that I have seen. This laser is an advanced surgical tool/laser/computer and needs to be offered by a physician or surgeon. Patients must understand that this technology is different from other lasers currently on the market. It can achieve dramatic results in one to two treatments, far superior to other lasers on the market. However with the upside patients have to accept 7-10 days of redness and swelling as they go through the first phase of healing.