RF/CO2 Resurfacing

RF/CO2 Resurfacing

RF/CO2 Resurfacing in Aurora, ON, Canada, by Dr Amber Bockneck

RF/CO2 Resurfacing

Lasers for skin tightening, firmness, treating laxity, fine lines, scars and more.

Textural disturbances (stretch marks, laxity, crepe-y-ness, fine lines, scars and some resistant pigmentation) can be helped with lasers.

In our office, we have several methods to try to assist with these problems. We have microneedling and PRP can also be used for some of these issues and they are discussed under their own separate tabs. This section is focused on laser therapies. There are 2 main types of lasers: Ablative and non ablative.

Both of these types of laser technologies are used for collagen stimulation and skin rejuvenation. While both aim to promote collagen production, they differ in their mechanisms of action, depth of penetration, and associated downtime. Here’s a comparison of ablative and non-ablative lasers for collagen stimulation:

Ablative Lasers:

  1. Types of Ablation Devices: In our office, we have 2 main types of ablative technology.  Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing and Fractional Plasma resurfacing – the similarities and differences will be discussed further down this web page, after the explanation of Ablative vs Non ablative.
  2. Mechanism of Action:
    • Removal of Tissue: Ablative lasers work by removing layers of skin tissue. They cause controlled damage to the outer layers, stimulating the body’s natural healing response.
  3. Depth of Penetration:
    • Deeper Penetration: Ablative lasers penetrate more deeply into the skin, reaching the epidermis and often extending into the dermis.
  4. Targets:
    • Fine Lines, Wrinkles, Scars: Ablative lasers are effective for treating moderate to severe signs of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles, and certain types of scars.  They can also be effective on stubborn pigmentation that fails to respond to milder treatments
  5. Downtime:
    • Extended Downtime: Ablative laser treatments are associated with a more extended downtime. Patients COMMONLY experience redness, swelling, and peeling for several days to weeks, depending on the intensity of the treatment.  Make up generally can not be worn until approximately 6-7 days after the treatment
  6. Painful Procedure:
    • Both of these fractional resurfacing devices (CO2 and fractional RF ablative plasma) are painful treatments.  We generally have our patients prepare by using some or all of the following:
    • 1 hr pre treatment – 2 extra strength Tylenol and apply freezing cream to the entire zone to be treated.  Then cover all the cream with saran wrap to improve the penetration of the medicated cream and the freezing effect
    • At treatment, we prescribe a anesthetic puffer to be used to help with the acute pain.  The only people who can’t use this puffer are those with a known allergy to general anaesthetics, severe kidney/liver disease and/or a condition called malignant hyperthermia.
    • After treatment, a fan (and the air conditioning in your car on the way home) for 2-4 hrs helps to significantly reduce the sunburn feeling.
    • Usually after 2-4 hrs, the pain passes and the healing process continues.
    • For those with a history of cold sores or frequent skin infections we use antivirals and antibacterials, respectively over the course of the first 5-7 days.
  7. Collagen Stimulation:
    • Stimulates Collagen Production: By causing controlled damage, ablative lasers trigger a significant increase in collagen production during the healing process.


  • Treatment Goals:
    • Ablative lasers are often chosen for more significant improvements in wrinkles, scars, and skin tightening.
    • Non-ablative lasers are preferred for those seeking milder improvements with less downtime (see Clearlift).
  • Skin Type:
    • Non-ablative lasers may be suitable for a broader range of skin types, including individuals with darker skin tones, as they pose a lower risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
  • Number of Sessions:
    • Ablative lasers may achieve results in 1-3 sessions, while non-ablative lasers (see Clearlift) often require 5-10 sessions for optimal results.
RF/CO2 Resurfacing in Aurora, ON, Canada, by Dr Amber Bockneck
Fractional Laser Skin Resurfacing Before and After in Aurora, ON, Canada, by Dr Amber Bockneck

It’s crucial for individuals considering fractional laser resurfacing to have a thorough consultation with their healthcare provider. During this consultation, the provider can assess the individual’s skin type, discuss potential risks, and establish realistic expectations for the treatment. Adhering to post-procedure care instructions, including avoiding sun exposure and using recommended skincare products, can help minimize side effects and optimize results. 

After care for laser resurfacing:

Proper aftercare is crucial to promote healing and minimize potential side effects after fractional laser resurfacing. The specific instructions may vary based on the intensity of the treatment and individual skin characteristics, so it’s essential to follow the guidance provided by your healthcare provider. Here are general aftercare recommendations:

  1. Keep the Treated Area Clean:
    • Gently cleanse the treated area twice daily with a mild, fragrance-free cleanser recommended by your healthcare provider.
    • Avoid harsh or abrasive cleansers that may irritate the skin.
    • Cetaphil or Spectro gel are good choices and are available at most pharmacies
  2. Moisturize:
    • Apply Vaseline twice daily after cleansing and any time the skin feels dry
  3. Use Sunscreen:
    • Protect the treated area from sun exposure by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Start this at 1 week post treatment
    • Avoid direct sunlight and wear protective clothing, such as hats and sunglasses, when outdoors entirely during the 1st week of recovery, and then continue to be vigilant after the first week, even when wearing sunscreen.
  4. Avoid Sun Exposure:
    • Minimize sun exposure for several weeks after the procedure, as the skin will be more susceptible to damage.
    • If sun exposure is unavoidable, take precautions to protect the treated area.
  5. Avoid Scratching or Picking:
    • Refrain from scratching, picking, or rubbing the treated area, as this can disrupt the healing process and increase the risk of infection.
    • If itching occurs, consult your healthcare provider for appropriate remedies.
  6. Stay Hydrated:
    • Drink plenty of water to keep the body hydrated, which can contribute to overall skin health.
  7. Avoid Irritants:
    • Steer clear of products that may irritate the skin, such as products containing alcohol or strong acids.  Wait 1 full week before resuming retins or vitamin C serums
    • Avoid using makeup or skincare products that are not approved by your healthcare provider during the first week.
  8. Follow Prescribed Medications:
    • If your healthcare provider prescribes any medications, such as antibiotics, antivirals or topical ointments, use them as directed.
  9. Attend Follow-Up Appointments:
    • Attend any scheduled follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider to monitor your skin’s progress and address any concerns.
  10. Report Problems Quickly:
    • If you note you were doing well, but you develop new tenderness, new worsening redness, new itch or irritation, new heat in an area, any discharge, any odour or any fever, notify the team immediately.  These could be signs of infection and we would want to initiate treatment swiftly.

Always consult with us if you have any questions or concerns about your aftercare routine. Individual recovery experiences may vary, and your provider can offer personalized advice based on your specific needs and the intensity of the fractional laser resurfacing treatment.

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