With summer kicking into full gear, it’s important to understand the effect of UV exposure on the skin. Bathing in the sun is fun for the time being, but UV rays get into the skin and cause mutations in DNA and overexpression of factors that degrade collagen. Collagen is the primary fiber responsible for the elasticity of our skin, and the lack of it results in wrinkles and fine lines. These along with dark spots and cellular damage from mutations are all symptoms of accelerated aging in the skin due to overexposure to UV rays in the sun.
There are many different laser treatments used for aesthetic and medical conditions. One of the most popular is the carbon dioxide (CO2) laser. All dermatological lasers work by shooting light energy into tissue, but a CO2 laser works a bit differently from the rest. Since it's a gas laser, the light is initially shot through a gas tube surrounded by mirrors that reflect most of the light. While stuck in this tube, the light bounces around and increases in intensity. Then, the light is finally emitted into the tissue.
This process may make gas lasers sound a bit dangerous. And initially, they were. Gas lasers can be very intense. But improvements in technology have allowed scientists to modify the mirrors to control the emission of the laser to make it safe to apply CO2 lasers on the skin.
CO2 lasers emit light at a wavelength so high that it's only absorbed by water in the applied tissue. The water heats up past its boiling point, which causes the treated tissue to ablate by vaporization. This controlled destruction of tissue deep in the skin stimulates the body’s natural healing processes, resulting in increased collagen and rejuvenated, younger skin.
Due to the mechanism of the laser, minor swelling or redness in the applied area for a few days to a week is possible. However, because the wavelength of light is only absorbed by water, CO2 lasers are very safe and don’t damage surrounding tissue.
In clinical reviews of the dermatological use of CO2 lasers, it was found that they’re effective for dealing with lesions and warts, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and producing overall younger-looking skin.
If you have any questions about this treatment, or want to schedule an appointment, call our office at (609) 300-1517 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Omi, Tokuya, and Kayoko Numano. “The Role of the CO2 Laser and Fractional CO2 Laser in Dermatology.” Laser therapy vol. 23,1 (2014): 49-60. doi:10.5978/islsm.14-RE-01
CO2 Laser: Review, Downtime, Recovery, Side Effects (sozoclinic.sg)
How Do CO2 Lasers Work? (sciencing.com)