Skip to main content

How Fractionated CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing Works


Posted November 15, 2022 in Laser Treatment

Lasers are the cornerstone of serious skin rejuvenation. For those that need to improve the texture and quality of their skin, there’s no better treatment than a fractionated CO2 laser. Originally, CO2 laser treatments were known to be super aggressive with significant risks and downtime. However, as science continues to evolve, so do these lasers, and fractionated versions make them more tolerable with less downtime. When it comes to lasers, there’s pretty much no skin concern that they can’t correct, and the stronger the laser, the better the results. Fractionated CO2 lasers are the most powerful, which is why they’re prescribed for improving stubborn pigment, sun damage, scars, and wrinkles.

All lasers work on the same premise: delivering a beam of a specific wavelength allows it to be absorbed by the skin, stimulate collagen and either ablate or not ablate the uppermost layers of skin. In addition, the more energy delivered, the better equipped a laser is at reversing the signs of damaged skin, so it appears smooth and refreshed. One of the most effective fractionated CO2 lasers on the market is Acupulse by Lumenis.

What is a CO2 Laser?

Carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers are some of the more intense resurfacing lasers available. These types of lasers use high-energy wavelengths to vaporize and resurface the skin layer by layer. Fractionated CO2 lasers are often more ablative than lighter lasers, and the popular laser treatment is the most effective way to rejuvenate the skin and erase the signs of sun damage. However, the fractionated energy is delivered to the skin, so that small, controlled injuries are made rather than ablating the skin’s entire surface.

Fractionated CO2 lasers are effective for resurfacing facial, chest, and neck skin to improve the look of wrinkles and aging skin. But because these lasers are the workhorse of aesthetics, they come with downtime. 

What is the Lumenis AcuPulse Laser?

The Lumenis AcuPulse is a complete ablative laser resurfacing workstation featuring state-of-the-art technology for all aesthetic resurfacing needs. Acupulse can deliver energy into the skin faster than any other C02, which means less downtime and more remarkable results. This laser has 11 built-in treatment modes for enhanced comfort and a reduced risk of side effects. In addition, the laser can remove superficial pigment and deep wrinkles in the same pulse. As a result, this laser is the gold standard for skin rejuvenation and collagen growth.

The AcuPulse laser is also a fractionated CO2 laser device, meaning that it lays down a small pattern of dots so that the skin can heal more quickly rather than treating the entirety of the skin.

AcuPulse features the brand’s SuperPulse Technology, which has an exceptional ablation-to-coagulation ratio so that the laser can reach the desired treatment depth with a single pulse. 

How does a fractionated CO2 laser work?

Fractionated CO2 lasers emit energy in concise, small bursts, which target water molecules and vaporize skin cells in microscopic columns in the skin. Fractionated CO2 lasers are ablative, which removes skin cells on the surface of the epidermis. Clearing old, damaged skin, fresh, clear new skin emerges. The laser creates a controlled burn that stimulates a healing response to improve the skin on the surface.

While this happens on the surface, a lot occurs at the dermal layer, where new collagen is produced to firm and smooth the skin. New collagen creation is important because collagen degrades with age, yet stimulating it leaves the skin firm and smooth.

There’s a lot that fractionated CO2 lasers, like the AcuPulse, can improve on the face, neck, and chest, including:

· Fine lines 

· Wrinkles

· Discoloration and pigment changes

· Sun damage

· Age spots

· Deep acne scars

· Pore size

· Stretch marks

· Uneven skin texture

· Skin conditions, like rhinophyma

· Skin growths like warts

Depending on the skin issues, a fractionated CO2 laser can be used as a full-face treatment or to spot isolated concerns, like specific spots, wrinkles, or scars. 

The treatment is an outpatient procedure and lasts between 30 and 120 minutes, depending on the size of the treatment area. First, the face or treatment area is numbed with local anesthesia. Then, the handheld laser device is moved across the skin, and a powerful light beam is emitted section by section. Each ablated area is treated in a square, grid-like pattern, which may sometimes leave behind a tiny mark on the skin. Since you’ll be numb during the procedure, you shouldn’t feel anything on the skin, which is said to feel like a snapping rubber band.

After the treatment, your provider will cover the skin with a thick healing ointment and, if necessary, dressings.

Because there is ablation to the top layer of skin, it’s essential to treat the skin post-treatment with a gentle skincare routine that incorporates an emollient-rich moisturizer or ointment, like Aquaphor, to help the skin heal properly. Also, expect the skin to experience redness, swelling, and light, pinpoint bleeding as it heals. 

The results take time to surface, and you probably won’t see an immediate difference in your skin depending on the intensity of the laser. You won’t see the full results until the skin is completely healed and any redness dissipates, which can take a few weeks to a couple of months. Over the coming months, you’ll also notice the firming effects of increased collagen. 

Am I a good candidate for Acupulse?

The ideal candidate for an AcuPulse fractionated CO2 laser treatment is experiencing the common signs of skin aging and desires to fix it. Generally, lasers provide the best outcome in lighter skin since there is less risk of hyperpigmentation. However, non-ablative CO2 lasers can be used on those with darker skin tones and can provide better results. 

How long do the results last?

While no treatment is ever indefinite, the results from a fractionated CO2 laser are long-lasting, and the skin should remain in its new, firmer, and tighter state for several years. Most patients report that the results last about ten years or more.

How much does a fractionated CO2 laser treatment cost in Atlanta?

The cost of the AcuPulse CO2 laser treatment varies from patient to patient and depends on the size of the treatment area. Following your consultation, the Plastic Surgery Centre of Atlanta and Alchemy Aesthetics team will provide a detailed cost with all applicable fees for Dr.

Brothers and his surgical staff, necessary medical supplies, and follow-up care.

Financing is available through CareCredit®. We also accept cash, checks, and most major

credit cards.

Common FAQs

  • What skin problems can a fractionated C02 laser improve?

Fractionated CO2 laser treatment can improve a handful of skin-related concerns. Patients seek treatment to improve wrinkles, acne scars, sun damage, enlarged pores, and mild laxity. Fractionated CO2 lasers are not recommended for those who have recently incurred sun exposure or plan to continue to sunbathe. 

  • What will my skin look like after the laser?

Directly after the laser, the skin will be red and raw, usually lasting for about one week, if not longer. Because the skin has been compromised, following the specific skincare protocol recommended to you is essential.

  • Will I be left looking waxy?

The nice thing about fractionated CO2 lasers is that they produce a better result than the lasers of years past (which were not fractionated). Older CO2 lasers were known to leave the skin with a wax-like, shiny finish while also depigmenting it, leaving it looking pale. Fractionated lasers generally do not depigment the skin.

Contact Us

Plastic Surgery Center of Atlanta

5673 Peachtree Dunwoody Road, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30342

Alchemy Aesthetics

5667 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd #285
Atlanta, GA 30342

Get Directions Request a Consultation
Apply for CareCredit

Stay Social