Many residents of Denver, Colorado are nature enthusiasts who enjoy the idyllic landscape of the Rocky Mountains and the many beautiful bodies of water nearby. Summer hiking and winter skiing are two favorite local activities, which residents and vacationers both appreciate. The beautiful environment and year-round outdoor lifestyle come at a cost, however. Many people develop skin damage through exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays and other outdoor environmental irritants. Furthermore, the high altitude can cause additional skin vulnerability due to the potent and unimpeded sunlight. To help offset the effects of sun damage, Dr. Stephen Weber of Weber Plastic Surgery, PC in the Denver area offers treatment for sun-exposed, aging, or acne-scarred skin using his trusted ablative laser skin resurfacing equipment, the Eclipse Equinox CO2 laser.
How Does Laser Skin Resurfacing Work?
Through advanced medical technology, Dr. Weber improves the quality of patients’ skin from the inside out by targeting different layers of skin cells with laser energy. Laser resurfacing can help the skin to renew and rejuvenate while stimulating new collagen formation. The light energy enters the skin and targets collagen formation at the cellular level to increase its production, which leads to natural, long-term rejuvenation over time. Laser skin resurfacing harnesses natural healing processes with controlled damage to the skin, which forces the body to create a bright, new layer of skin. This step is necessary to improve the texture and tone of the skin, creating a firmer and more youthful look.
The Difference between Fractional and Fully-Ablative Lasers
Dr. Weber’s practice favors the Eclipse Equinox CO2 laser, which is a fractional laser. The light energy penetrates to deeper layers of the skin to heat the cells vertically. Columns of tissue are vaporized, leaving the surrounding areas of skin intact. This promotes controlled healing, where the existing skin cells can help regenerate new cell growth at the laser site. The majority of the skin surface, called the epidermis, are not damaged, resulting in faster healing times and less downtime. Past CO2 lasers were fully ablative, which worked by vaporizing the entire upper layer of skin without leaving some areas untreated. While this type of laser skin resurfacing can be very effective for some patients, it is not ideal for those who may be prone to scarring. The treatment is more invasive and may require sedation and extended healing times.
Fractional laser resurfacing is currently considered the gold standard treatment to reduce the appearance of early line and wrinkle formation and improve the overall look of the skin. A more uniform skin tone and texture can enhance a patient’s looks and create a more youthful appearance. Patients will notice that following a fractional laser appointment, the skin will feel tighter and that the condition of the skin continues to improve over the next few months as new collagen growth is stimulated.
Best Candidates for Laser Skin Resurfacing with the Eclipse Equinox CO2
Fractional laser skin resurfacing addresses visible signs of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles and sun damage. It can also treat problem skin that may be excessively oily, causing enlarged pores and oil glands which tend to be most prominent on the nose. Those with facial scarring due to acne or chickenpox may also benefit from one or more laser treatments. The Eclipse Equinox CO2 laser can improve the texture of the skin, creating a smoother, firmer, and more toned look.
An added benefit of undergoing laser treatments is that skincare products will more easily penetrate the skin. This means that a proper at-home skincare regimen can help maintain results. Dr. Weber and his expert staff will recommend a home skin care program to be integrated into the patient’s care routine before the procedure and after to accelerate healing and improve the final aesthetic results.
There are some medical conditions that can prevent or delay a patient from undergoing fractional CO2 laser skin resurfacing, like bleeding disorders or a history of poor healing and scarring. Patients who are pregnant should wait until after their baby is born to undergo cosmetic treatments. Additionally, those who have recently been treated with the acne medicine (Accutane) or chemotherapy may have to hold off on treatment until no longer affected by these conditions or medications. Dr. Weber will determine with you when a fractional laser resurfacing procedure is effective.
Dr. Weber and his licensed clinical staff routinely perform laser resurfacing treatments in his in-office procedure suites. First, the patient’s skin is cleansed of all natural debris, sweat, and any skincare or cosmetic products. Next, a topical numbing cream (local anesthetic) is used to block any uncomfortable sensations during the procedure. For patients who have anxiety about the procedure, oral sedation can also be provided for a more relaxing experience. Patients who choose this option are required to have a designated ride after the appointment for safety reasons. Chilled air and dental blocks can also be added in certain cases to allow a more intense resurfacing treatment, when appropriate.
* Each patient is unique and individual results may vary.
Once the patient is comfortable, the laser is directed at the skin’s surface. Generally, the treatment targets the entire face and neck, sometimes spanning the hairline to the décolleté to provide blended, natural-looking rejuvenation. Because results can be dramatic, this ensures a uniform transformation. In some cases, a patient’s chest and hands are also lasered to restore vitality to the skin, especially in those with aging or sun-damaged skin. The appointment will take approximately 30-45 minutes.
Once the skin has been treated, a medicated moisturizing ointment may be applied to relieve any post-procedure tightness and to add hydration to the tissues. Bandaging will not be necessary as the surface of the skin remains intact.
Recovering from an Eclipse Equinox CO2 Laser Treatment
During this fractional CO2 laser treatment, small tunnels pierce through the skin, leaving the surrounding tissues intact. Because only some areas of the skin are treated, healing times tend to be shorter than for fully ablative CO2 treatments. Pinpoint bleeding may occur in the treated sites, which sometimes also ooze fluids. About 5 – 7 days after laser treatment, patients should be sufficiently healed to allow the application of camouflage makeup or tinted sunscreen. Depending on the settings of the Equinox and the patient’s skin, the treatment sites may appear sunburned for the next 1-3 weeks, but can easily be covered with cosmetics while the redness subsides.
FAQs about the Eclipse Equinox CO2 Laser
How many treatments are necessary for the best results?
In most cases, 1-2 laser sessions will create optimal improvement, though as many as 5 treatments may be suggested for deeper acne scars. Patients with advanced aging or acne scars will likely need at least two treatments for their skin. Dr. Weber may suggest that patients wait at least 3-6 months between treatments, as cellular regeneration at deeper layers of skin will require months to be visible at the skin’s surface.
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Can the eyelids be treated during CO2 laser resurfacing?
With the use of special protective contact lenses, treatment of the upper and lower eyelids may be performed safely. This is another laser innovation that prevents the need for a more invasive surgery with additional risks and extended healing times, not to mention an increased cost. Lasering of the skin around the eyes and on the eyelids can reduce the need for blepharoplasty (cosmetic eyelid surgery).
Which procedures can be combined with CO2 laser resurfacing?
In some cases, facial rejuvenation surgery (blepharoplasty, brow lift, facelift, rhinoplasty) or fat grafting can be combined with laser treatment following surgery. These combinations may extend regular recovery times, but often result in a more dramatic improvement.
Are the results long-lasting?
Skin rejuvenation results from the Eclipse Equinox CO2 laser are long-lasting. Laser technology can turn back the hands of time, but will not halt the aging process altogether. The procedure can be performed again once the skin exhibits signs of aging or additional damaged cause by skin conditions like acne.
How does CO2 laser resurfacing compare to facelift surgery?
Cosmetic laser procedures are intended for mild to moderate correction of aesthetic concerns of facial skin. Patients with advanced signs of aging may best be served but undergoing a full facelift or targeted surgeries like a brow lift or mid-face lift. While lasering the skin provides some tightening and smoothing of texture, aging and lax skin can also be tightened and lifted during surgery creating more dramatic changes. For advanced signs of aging, a facelift may be recommended as a corrective procedure.
Is the CO2 laser safe for darker skin colors?
The Eclipse Equinox CO2 laser is safe for lighter skin colors. Darker skin types are at high risk of scarring or changes in pigmentation following ablative fractional laser resurfacing. Dr. Weber will advise you whether fractional CO2 laser resurfacing is safe and whether there are safer options available for your specific situation.
About Dr. Stephen Weber
Dr. Weber is a double board-certified Facial Plastic Surgeon who practices in Lone Tree Colorado. Dr. Weber specializes in non-surgical cosmetic treatments like Botox injections and facial filler injections, laser skin resurfacing and facial rejuvenation surgery. He places an emphasis on proper skincare and uses medical-grade products on his patients’ skin before and after each procedure.
Contact Denver-area surgeon Dr. Stephen Weber at Weber Plastic Surgery, PC by calling (303) 792-2224 or filling out an online Contact form to schedule a doctor-patient consultation.