What is the difference between IPL and CO2 laser treatments?
If you have considered laser treatments to reverse aging skin or sun damage, there are many laser treatments to choose from. You may come across IPL and CO2 laser treatments when searching for information. Deciding on the right treatment can be a bit overwhelming. But it's not that hard.
How does laser therapy work?
First, let's start with how laser treatments work. The laser bathes the skin in energy, and the type of energy depends on the patient's skin type and goals. The energy stimulates different areas of the epidermis (and in some cases, the dermis) to trigger a response, such as stimulating collagen, heating water molecules to tighten the skin, or removing damage and triggering a healing response. By doing this, the skin is able to heal and remodel itself over time and reverse signs of aging, skin damage, scarring and slight discoloration. There are several different types - CO2 and IPL treatments are the most popular and they work in different ways.
The IPL laser is a non-ablative fractional laser. This powerful combination is a great way to reverse sun damage, fade age spots and facial redness, and even minimize conditions such as rosacea. It works by delivering pulses of light energy to target different pigments within the skin. Healthy tissues are not harmed, but hyperpigmented spots such as sun damage, age spots, rosacea, scars, and even spider veins absorb this light energy. The absorption destroys the pigments that are beginning to break down, signaling to the body to filter them out as part of the natural process of removing cellular waste.
This is a very tolerable treatment, as most patients report that their skin feels warm, rather than the squeezing sensation of some of the more invasive laser treatments. Because IPL is non-ablative, the skin layers remain intact and therefore no flaking or peeling is involved. Discoloration broken down by the laser energy occurs more deeply and microscopically, so downtime is minimal. Patients are able to reapply makeup and resume their busy day immediately after IPL treatment. It may take 3-6 treatments to fully achieve patient goals.
CO2 Laser Treatments
The main difference between IPL treatment fractional and CO2 laser resurfacing is ablation. CO2 is a deeper ablative treatment for more intense cell renewal because it is a concentrated treatment. Because it is a focused treatment, the CO2 laser removes columns of skin in a precise matrix to a depth that is most conducive to the healing process. By removing the skin in this manner, healthy skin tissue remains intact next to the columns to bridge the gap and aid in healing. Because it does not target hyperpigmentation, fractional CO2 laser resurfacing can improve a wider range of skin problems such as fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone and texture, skin laxity, dullness and weakened collagen.
CO2 laser resurfacing is one of the most effective laser treatments to repair skin in one procedure, including advanced skin damage and aging. It's like performing multiple non-invasive procedures at the same time. Because it is so intense, there is a 7-14 day recovery period, during which your skin will experience intense peeling and flaking periods while it heals. A variety of anesthetics are available for patient comfort.
What's right for me?
In general, CO2 is the more thorough treatment, but each treatment has its pros and cons. Everyone's skin is different. We believe your treatment should be tailored to your unique needs. If you would like to know if IPL or CO2 is right for you, we are here to help.
During your initial consultation, our staff can help you develop a plan to give you the best skin possible. After all, you should be comfortable in your own skin.