Maybe laser surgery won’t make you younger, but it certainly can make you look that way. With new advances in laser skin resurfacing techniques, the Fountain of Youth might prove not to be a myth after all.

One technique, CO2 Fractional Laser therapy, combines the effectiveness of traditional carbon dioxide lasers with a new application that prevents damage to the epidermis, or top layer of skin. This enhances its use for such issues as wrinkles, moles, scars and other skin conditions.

There are two types of lasers: ablative lasers, which remove only the top layer of the skin, or epidermis, and non-ablative lasers, which remove tissue below the epidermis. The former, which include CO2 lasers, are appropriate for use with minor facial problems that are mostly on the skin’s surface, such as blemishes and wrinkles. Non-ablative lasers are used in cases of more severe skin damage, such as birthmarks, enlarged blood vessels, severe acne scars, and for removing unwanted hair.

Role of Collagen

As we age, we tend to lose the important connective tissue protein called collagen, which makes skin strong and elastic. Exposure to the sun and pollution also takes a toll on collagen. As a result, wrinkles can develop and skin can sag.

To stimulate the body’s natural production of collagen, laser resurfacing uses beams of light to bore tiny holes in the skin. However, use of this technique has some unpleasant aspects. These include a recovery period that can last for weeks, facial redness that can last for months, lightening of skin color, and the potential for infection that could result in scarring.

Skin Areas Left Intact

The CO2 Fractional Laser therapy breaks up the laser beam into many small fractionated, or micro, beams which send thousands of tiny columns of heat deep into the skin. This heat destroys old skin cells and induces the production of new collagen. Meanwhile, those areas of skin that lie between the points of contact by the micro beams are left intact. This promotes a more rapid recovery overall, with less risk of complications.

According to the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, fractional resurfacing can be performed on the face, neck, chest, and hands. Common side effects can include temporary redness and swelling.