As we age, we can see our skin changing and, as we look in the mirror, we may not be happy with those changes. Gone are the days where our only options were surgery or trying to cover up those signs of aging to no avail. Today there are non-surgical options for turning back the hands of time on your skin. Call the office of Chernoff Cosmetic Surgery in Santa Rosa, CA to discuss how Co2 laser resurfacing can bring back a more youthful appearance.
What Is Co2 Laser Resurfacing?
Co2 laser resurfacing is an ablative resurfacing laser, meaning it removes layers of skin to produce new, healthy cells. This carbon dioxide laser precisely directs heat to deep outer layers of damaged skin, creating micro-wounds.
This microscopic wounding of the skin tells your body to start the healing process by producing higher levels of collagen and regenerating new, healthy skin cells. This treatment goes beyond treating superficial imperfections because it affects the skin on a deeper level. Co2 laser resurfacing can address significant signs of aging like:
- Fine to moderately deep lines, wrinkles, and folds
- Age spots
- Skin laxity
- Uneven skin tone and texture
- Sun-damaged skin
- Stretch marks
What Does Collagen Production Do?
This treatment has two primary goals. First, it removes layers of skin that are damaged or showing signs of aging. The second goal is to stimulate your body’s production of collagen. But why does this reverse the signs of aging?
Collagen and the Skin
Collagen is a fibrous protein that accounts for one-third of all protein in our bodies. It also makes up 80% of our skin. Collagen provides a strong middle layer—or dermis—for our skin. When we’re young, this foundation keeps our faces smooth and staves of the imperfections we see with aging, like lines, wrinkles, and skin laxity.
This fibrous protein also creates a strong anchor for our skin to hold on to, ensuring it stays in place. The fat pads that make our cheekbones prominent and the apples of our cheeks full stay in place and keep our faces looking proportional.
The dermis also houses the protein elastin and the sugar hyaluronic acid—both crucial for healthy, young-looking skin.
This protein gets its name because of its flexibility and how elastic it allows our skin to be. When you stretch or pinch an area of skin when you’re young, it will snap back to place thanks to this protein. Elastin works with collagen to make sure our skin stays in place and doesn’t become lax.
As we age, we lose elastin, and our skin can’t hold up to gravity the way it used to. We can notice that our eyebrows sag, our skin can look loose and stretched, and wrinkles prove our skin isn’t snapping back anymore.
This is a sugar our bodies produce to keep our skin, eyes, and other connective tissues lubricated. Holding one thousand times its weight in water, hyaluronic acid is responsible for our skin feeling supple and looking dewy. When we’re young, we may not need the amount or strength of moisturizer we do as we age.
As we get older, our skin needs heavier creams, our joints may become uncomfortable, and our eyes can feel dry and itchy. This is all because of a lack of hyaluronic acid.
The Decline of Collagen
There’s nothing we can do to prevent aging from robbing us of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid—it’s a natural decline. In our early 20s, our production starts its decline, and we lose about 1% each year after that. There’s an even more dramatic drop-off for women after menopause.
Genetics can play a role in collagen production. You’re likely to have a similar production level and decline rate of collagen as your family members. This is why some people seem to not age at all while others seem to age more rapidly and dramatically. We can’t stop our loss of collagen, but there are things we do that speed up its decline:
- Spending time in the sun unprotected
- Consuming too much alcohol
- Consuming a lot of sugar or processed foods
- Not getting enough sleep
- Failing to manage long-term stress
- Not drinking enough water
What Happens When Collagen Breaks Down
As our production slows and collagen breaks down, it weakens the deeper layers of our skin, causing our face to lose its anchor. Certain weaknesses in the dermis create different sized areas of volume loss. Some can be smaller, as when our skin falls to create small lines and wrinkles. Other areas can be larger, and we can lose volume in places like our cheeks and cheekbones.
The decline in collagen also allows our cells to damage more easily, causing age and sunspots, discoloration, and uneven texture. Restoring collagen is the key to reversing these signs of aging.
How Co2 Laser Resurfacing Works
As this laser is moved across your skin, your doctor will target deeper layers of skin that have been damaged by loss of collagen. The heat from the laser creates enough disruption for your skin to replace all those layers of skin, but to do that, it has to produce a lot of new collagen.
As this healing process continues, newly regenerated skin cells slowly replace those damaged layers of skin with healthier ones. The foundation of these layers of skin is made strong again, removing those weakened areas and firming up the anchor for your face. The results can include:
- Reduced or eliminated fine to moderate lines and wrinkles
- Even skin tone and texture
- Reduced scarring
- A brighter, clearer complexion
- Smaller pores
- Tighter skin
What to Expect
Choosing to have any cosmetic treatment can be a daunting proposition given the vast number of options available. Your doctor will help you with the process.
Having an in-depth consultation with your doctor is the only way to determine if Co2 laser resurfacing is the right option for you. They will do a physical examination of your skin to determine its condition. They’ll discuss your areas of concern and get a clear understanding of your desired results.
Once the recommendation is made to move forward with treatment, there are certain preparations you’ll be instructed to make.
Before Your Appointment
Each patient is different, so pre-treatment instructions may vary. There are typical recommendations, however, that will make your treatment more effective and expedite your healing process:
- Avoid heavy sun exposure or tanning for four weeks
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen
- Avoid aggressive facial treatments like microdermabrasion, chemical peels, etc. for four weeks
- Don’t take medications that cause photosensitivity for several days prior
Your doctor may also recommend a specific take home product to use that will prepare your skin for treatment. These will increase your tolerance for the treatment and decrease the already low likelihood of adverse side effects. If it’s advised you take any medication following your treatment, the prescriptions will be filled before your appointment.
During Your Appointment
Your skin will be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized. You and your doctor will have already discussed any extra sedation and, if planned, they will administer it before the treatment.
Once the local anesthetic has sufficiently numbed the treatment area, your treatment specialist will move the laser around your face, targeting precise areas to achieve maximum results. When the treatment is done, your doctor will apply a protective balm or salve to the treatment area and may dress it in protective wraps.
Aftercare instructions will vary depending on the patient and the area treated, so it’s important to follow those directions carefully. This treatment is done in the office, and you can leave afterward. If you’ve chosen sedation, you’ll need to be driven home.
You will be given specific instructions to make your recovery comfortable and maximize your results. Special cleansers and moisturizers may be necessary for a few weeks following treatment. Sunscreen usage is essential, every day, no matter the weather. Your skin will be more sensitive to sun damage for up to a year after treatment.
Timeline of Results
As your skin heals, it will reveal brighter and more even tone. The real results come as your collagen builds up and regenerates new layers of skin. Over the month or two following your treatment, you will notice lines and wrinkles diminishing as the collagen fills them in.
Loose skin will become tighter as it anchors to the newly formed fibrous collagen and the strong dermis it has created. Age and sunspots will lighten or disappear as those cells are replaced with healthy ones.
Clients will see results gradually continue to improve for months, with full results seen 3-6 months after treatment. Clients appreciate the slow progression of change because people notice their youthful appearance and not immediate “work” they’ve had done.
Length of Results
Each client is different, and the length of results depends on your natural aging process and how you care for yourself and your skin afterward. No treatment will stop the aging process, so over time you will continue to lose this newly formed collagen. Most clients enjoy results up to and even past the two-year mark.
Most people see the results they want after just one session. If you have severe wrinkles or skin damage, your doctor may recommend another treatment. Because the results are so remarkable, many clients follow-up with a repeat treatment 18-24 months after their initial treatment so they can enjoy continuous results. Your doctor will make a recommendation for the right follow-up treatment schedule for you.
Who Is a Good Candidate?
Only your doctor can determine if this is the right treatment for your skin, your areas of concern, and your desired outcome. Adult men and women in good health can be good candidates for Co2 laser resurfacing.
An overall health history will be taken to ensure there’s nothing that may exclude you from receiving this treatment. Some issues that could prevent you from receiving this treatment are:
- Taking Accutane
- Difficulty healing
- Bleeding disorders
- A history of scarring easily
These issues may not automatically disqualify you from treatment, and your doctor can discuss them more in-depth to determine your candidacy or suggest other treatment options better suited to you.
Choosing the Right Provider
If you’ve decided to talk to a doctor about how to reverse the signs of aging you find discouraging and bothersome, it’s important to make sure you consult only the best.
Call the office of Chernoff Cosmetic Surgery in Santa Rosa, CA to schedule a consultation. We earn your trust by partnering with you to develop the right treatment plan to meet your needs and address your concerns. We take our work and your results very seriously, so we have created a professional and caring environment where attention to every detail is paramount. We look forward to helping you look and feel your best.