Can Carbon Dioxide Laser Treatment (CO2) Help in Acne?

Acne is one of the most common skin disease affecting millions of people across the globe and is characterized by frequent outbreaks of pimples, whiteheads, blackheads and inflammations marked by scarring and redness of the affected area.

In this article, we shall discuss the carbon dioxide laser treatment which has been widely popular in fading the marks and spots.

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What is Carbon Dioxide Laser Treatment?

Since more than a decade, lasers have been used successfully for many major and minor health and cosmetic benefits.

It has been known to fade away scars and stains and gained immense popularity in the cosmetic industry because of its use in hair removal treatment, teeth whitening, reduction of wrinkles and other signs of aging, along with various other surgeries.

Carbon dioxide laser treatment involves exposing the affected area on the skin to very highly concentrated laser light.

This pulsated light evaporates the water contained in the epidermis which constitutes 70% of the entire content causing the damaged layers of skin to dissolve.

This dissolution causes new cells to form and a fresh and younger layer of skin to develop, as the dead skin starts to shed.

This treatment is used mostly on the face, hands, chest, and neck.

It is effective in treating sun damage, aging symptoms which include lines and wrinkles and acne scars among other things.

If used only partially, this treatment might take 35 to 40 minutes whereas if used on the complete face it can take well over an hour and a half.

Also, shallow wrinkles and lines that are mostly confined to the upper layer of the epidermis can be treated in one round while deeper skin problems may require more rounds.

How does CO2 Laser Treatment Treat Acne Scars?

Carbon dioxide laser treatment has been widely used by people around the globe to do away with their acne scars.

The laser beams to which the skin is exposed creates tiny holes in the skin of the affected area causing the water in the epidermis to dissolve the damaged cells and affect the growth of new once.

These new cells increase the rate as well as the production of collagen which provides structural support to your skin making it tight and firm while at the same time, improving the texture and tone of your skin.

The redness caused due to the exposure to the laser beams take 2 to 3 weeks to completely disappear. This treatment requires to be repeated after every 6 months, though not compulsorily.

After the treatment, the area concerned is kept covered for at least 3 days and it might take 10 to 21 days for it to heal completely even as the redness takes more than 3 months to go away completely at times.

What kinds of acne scars CO2 Laser can treat?

The carbon dioxide laser treatment has usually been used and recommended for dealing with the following kinds of scars:

  • Ice pick scars: They are less than 2 mm deep pits in an across manner. It feels like tiny holes have been punctured in the skin.
  • Boxcar scars: These scars mostly form on the cheek and temples and can be either shallow or deep. They are angular in shape
  • Rolling scars: These scars are wide and shallow usually caused by deep damage under the skin.

Types of Carbon Dioxide Laser Treatments

With time, new kinds of laser treatments have been developed which is not only time effective but also protect the skin from maximum damage that laser might cause.

Some of them are enlisted below:

  • Fractional laser skin treatment: It treats microscopic areas of the skin and affects a reduced amount of bleeding and scabbing relatively.
  • Plasma skin resurfacing: This method uses plasma energy to heal lower layers of the skin while leaving the upper layers to enact and unaffected which might also assist the underlying layers in healing by providing protection.
  • Superficial erbium YAG: It is a mild treatment mostly used for wrinkles and on surface problems.
  • Infrared laser surfacing: It attacks the deepest layer of the skin to cause tightening of the skin through heat.

Cost of CO2 Laser Treatments

It is usually believed to cost 3000$ to 6000$. However, the price may differ from procedure to procedure depending upon where it is being done.

Also, if it is used as cosmetic surgery, most insurance companies might not be willing to cover its expenses. However, there can be exceptions if it is used to remove precancerous growth on the skin.

Benefits of using the CO2 Laser Treatment

The benefits of undergoing this laser treatment are enumerated below:

  • It reduces lines and wrinkles from your skin.
  • It lightens your complexion.
  • This treatment does away with uneven pigmentation.
  • It corrects the skin of any damage by the sun or pollution exposure.
  • This has been very effective and helpful in reducing precancerous spots.

Limitations of CO2 Laser Treatment

The potential risks of laser treatments can be quiet a few and some of them are enlisted below:

  • Itching and swelling of the affected areas are short-term effects and tend to go away with time.
  • Skin erythema which can last anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months.
  • It might cause hyper or hypopigmentation and have known to do so in 30% to 40% of the cases. In dark-skinned people especially, it makes the skin around the affected/treated area extremely dark.
  • The skin might develop a burn due to all the heat from the laser.
  • Laser treatment might cause bacterial or viral infection to the skin.
  • In people prone to acne issues, treatment might cause acne breakouts.
  • In very rare cases of eye exposure, it might cause ectropion in which edge of the eyelids rolls outward. This might require surgery for correction.

Precautions with CO2 Laser Treatment

The CO2 laser treatment may have quite a few potential side effects and there is an important need to maintain the following precautions in order to avoid any damage or danger:

  • You must avoid taking any such medication that might reduce clotting, 10 days before the surgery.
  • You need to cut out on smoking 2 weeks before and after the procedure in order to facilitate healing.
  • After 24 hours of the treatment, you need to wash the affected area 4 to 5 times a day and moisturize it to prevent scabbing.
  • Around the time of the procedure and some days following it, you should avoid wearing any makeup.
  • After treatment, your skin becomes sensitive to the sun and you must avoid any exposure and if not completely avoidable, do not forget to wear a sunscreen lotion having an SPF of 30 or more.
  • The skin should be properly moisturized.

Customer reviews of CO2 Laser Treatment

We did an analysis of online reviews by consumers who have used this treatment to see what they liked and disliked about it. Here is a summary of their experiences:

What they liked about it

Effective: Most people felt that this treatment was extremely effective. They noticed a good 80% reduction in their scars in only 2 to 3 rounds of treatment. Some people went on to say that it made them feel as if they never had any scars at all.

Skin texture: Not only was this treatment effective in fading away from the scars, but it also improved the tone and texture of the skin as a whole making it softer, smoother and more firm. Many were of the view that it made their skin more youthful.

What they did not like about it

Expensive: One factor which disturbed a few consumers was the expensiveness of this treatment.

This became a more pressing issue also because most insurance companies are not willing to cover the expenses if it is for a cosmetic purpose.

Cystic breakout: Some consumers complained that it leads to cystic acne breakouts in about 3 to 4 months after the treatment.

It is important to note that it happened with people who had never earlier faced the problem of cystic acne. It also resulted, in some cases, in extreme redness of the skin.


It has been almost over a decade since this new technique was first used. Time along with people’s testimony has proved its worth and effectiveness.

The treatment will not only fade away the scars but also provide you with a more youthful, damage free and firm skin texture.

Its helpfulness also extends to reducing the signs of aging from your skin. This treatment might seem expensive at first, but its effect makes it worth all that and this one definitely deserves a try.

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