The Good, the Bad and the Ugly about the Fractional CO2 Laser

Fractional CO2 Laser – One Treatment, One Week Recovery, One Youthful Face, One Perfectly Amazing Skin

In December 2014 and September 2015 I has the Fractional CO2 Laser with Dr. Bill Kortesis, board certified plastic surgeon at the Hunstad Kortesis Plastic Surgery + MedSpa. The Fractional CO2 laser is the most powerful anti-aging treatment and that’s why I had it done two years in a row and I plan to have it done again. The recovery takes 6-7 days and, while it was about what I expected, it was not a comfortable recovery.

Why Did I Do the Fractional CO2 Laser?

  • The CO2 laser is the most amazing anti-aging treatment because it can fix all aging signs except dark spots. However, Dr. Kortesis is a wonderful doctor so he combines the CO2 laser with the IPL – which treats dark spots – thus, one treatment virtually fixes all aging issues. Since my 2014 treatment, Dr. Kortesis also added platelet rich plasma injections (PRP) to the laser to give the face a natural plumpness and to further stimulate collagen and speed up healing time.
  • The CO2 laser is performed under general anesthesia so I didn’t have to suffer through a painful treatment.
  • The CO2 Laser is the gift that keeps on giving. You will see results as soon as one week but the results continue to improve month after month and last for several years.
  • I love the convenience of getting all the results I want with just one treatment, one recovery.

Notes

  • In December 2014, I had the CO2 laser with the IPL. In September 2015, I had the CO2 laser, IPL, PRP injections and Ultheraphy on my face and neck.
  • The pictures I’m posting in this article are a combination from my 2014 and 2015 treatment. In 2014, I didn’t think about writing an article for this blog so I didn’t keep up with pictures as I did in 2015. However, my day to day recounting is based on my 2014 recovery.
  • The recovery differs from person to person. This article is my personal story.

The Recovery

Day 1
fractional co2 laser
2015 Sept, Day 1

The Good

  • The procedure went great! Dr. Kortesis, his anesthesiologist and all the nurses took the outmost care of me.

The Bad

  • I had Aquaphor all over my face and the Aquaphor was there to stay at all times for the next 6-7 days. The Aquaphor was greasy and gave me a constant feeling that my face and hair were dirty. I had a hard time getting comfortable.
  • My face was starting to ooze yellowish stuff and to weep.

The Ugly

  • Just look at the picture…
Day 2
fractional co2 laser
2015 Oct, Day 2

The Good

  • I was a day closer to amazingly perfect skin.
  • Vinegar soaks: Every 3 hours, I cleaned my face and applied gauze pads soaked in refrigerated vinegar water to my face. The coldness of the soaks was heaven on earth!
  • Oxygen treatments: After my CO2 laser, each day for five days I got an oxygen treatment at Dr. Kortesis’s office. During this treatment, the Aquaphor was washed off my face (how wonderful!) and the oxygen felt cooling. These treatments were also an opportunity for my aesthetician and Dr. Kortesis to check on my face and give me the reassurance my face was healing well.

The Bad

  • My skin was getting very red.
  • My face was very swollen. I started to look like a cross between a fattened chipmunk and the loch ness monster.
  • My face was oozing and weeping constantly.
  • The Aquaphor was sipping into my hair, thus from neck up, I was a greasy mess which contributed to the feeling of being dirty. I couldn’t find comfort.

The Ugly

  • Look at the picture and the ugly will speak for itself.
Day 3
fractional co2 laser
2014 Dec, Day 3

The Good

  • I was a day closer to amazingly perfect skin.
  • Vinegar soaks
  • Oxygen treatment

The Bad

  • The morning of Day 3, my face looked at its worse. The area under my right eye swelled up badly and was going through extra oozing of gross yellowish stuff and weeping. Dr. Kortesis looked at my eye and he said it was normal healing process, which was good.
  • My face started to smell. I was so glad my aesthetician told me the day before, my face may start to smell.
  • I religiously cleaned my face every 2-3 hours which was good and bad. It was good because it kept the buildup of the oozing and the smell to a minimum. It was bad because I was grossed out by the build up coming off my face but I was telling myself to toughen up and be detached; thinking of that, the process became easier.

The Ugly

  • The healing process… so sorry to use this word, but the healing process was… disgusting! I had yellowish stuff oozing out of my skin, my face weeped constantly and it had a foul smell. I was red and swelled up beyond recognition. Thank God, I had a strong sense of humor… I needed it!
Day 4
fractional co2 laser
2014 Dec, Day 4

The Good

  • A day closer to amazingly perfect skin
  • Vinegar soaks
  • Oxygen treatment
  • The swelling is starting to go down.

The Bad

  • The smell continued into Day 4. Upon returning home from my oxygen treatment, I was tired so I was looking forward to relaxing on the couch with some comfort food and chocolate. I prepared my food but as soon as I sat down, I felt a strong odor come out of my face… my appetite was gone. I put the food away and just sat on the couch telling myself that this laser took 5 years of a person’s face in just 7 days, so of course it was going to be an intense recovery. That thought made me feel better.
  • I was starting to feel physically and emotionally tired from not sleeping so well since the day of the procedure.

The Ugly

  • Around 2am I woke up to an intense feeling of my face itching. The itching was so intense and I needed some sleep so badly that I was ready to trade a pair of my beloved shoes for one Benadryl. Most people don’t have issues with itching but for me, both in 2014 and 2015, itching has been the biggest issue during recovery.
Day 5
fractional co2 laser
2015 Oct, Day 5

The Good

  • A day closer to amazingly perfect skin
  • Oxygen treatment
  • The smell stopped!!!
  • The swelling has gone way down.
  • The weeping and the oozing have subsided.
  • Dr. Kortesis!!! He is the doctor that will always be there whenever you need him!

The Bad

  • I still had Aquaphor on my face but I was starting to accept it and resign to the fact that I was going to feel dirty, resignation that actually gave me comfort.

The Ugly

  • Itching!!! As I mentioned above, the night before Day 5, I woke up to unbearable itching. My face started to feel like I had a million ants crawling and stomping on my face.
  • Emotionally this was the toughest day for me because I didn’t slept well in a few days and, when I thought my recovery was winding down, my face started to itch. My morale dropped. Fortunately Dr. Kortesis was within reach and assured me my face was healing well and checked on me everyday. I was able to talk to Dr. Kortesis even at 9pm on a Friday!
Day 6
fractional co2 laser
2015 Dec, Day 6

The Good

  • I’m very close to amazingly perfect skin
  • The swelling and the redness have gone down so my face was starting to look… normal.
  • No smell, very little oozing and weeping left
  • Dr. Kortesis: I was able to talk to Dr. Kortesis even through the weekend and got the reassurance my face was healing well. Talking to him gave me comfort. Thank God, for Dr. Kortesis!

The Bad

  • No bad. It was either really good – my face was healing well – or really bad – the itching of my face was consuming me and I was tired.

The Ugly

  • My face was itching with a vengeance. Luckily… sort of luckily, because I didn’t worked for the last two days, I spent the entire day working in the office (my office is at my house) keeping myself distracted.
  • The night of Day 6 was the toughest of all the recovery. I was tired and the itching kept me up all night but minute after minute, hour after hour time passed and the morning came…
Day 7
fractional co2 laser
2014 Dec, Day 7

The Good

  • The itching stopped!!! The morning of Day 7 arrived and my face healed enough to wash the Aquaphor off my face. As soon as the Aquaphor was gone, the itching stopped. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
  • Dr. Kortesis: That morning, on a Sunday, I talked to Dr. Kortesis again, send him pictures of my face and he said that my face was doing well. I was so grateful I had Dr. Kortesis to get me through that weekend.
  • Cleanliness: I washed my hair! It was amazing to have both my face and hair clean and Aquaphor free.
  • Sleep: I spent most of the day sleeping and at 9pm, I was back in bed sound asleep until morning.

The Bad

  • None

The Ugly

  • None
Day 10
fractional co2 laser
2014 Dec, Day 10

The Good

  • From Day 7 forward there was only good for my face. No more bad! No more ugly!
  • For the following few days, since I washed the Aquaphor off my face, the word “fresh” kept coming to me whenever I looked and felt my skin. I wanted to take a picture of my face to capture it but… without makeup! Without makeup?! Up until then I never took a picture of myself with no makeup. I never had the confidence. Nonetheless I took the above picture and I saw beauty!
Day 18
fractional co2 laser
2014 Dec, Day 18
  • Since my CO2 laser treatment, I stopped using foundation whenever getting my make up done because I don’t see the need anymore; I have nothing to cover up. Look at my skin, it’s perfect! I apologize if I sound cocky… but my skin looks so good, I can’t help it…
2 Months
fractional co2 laser
2015 Feb, 2 months
  • Taking pictures of myself with no makeup has become one of my favorite things to do since the CO2 laser. In this picture I haven’t even brushed my hair yet but look at my skin, look at my face: it’s youthful and beautiful! Again I apologize if I sound cocky but remember my recovery pictures, especially Day 3 and 4; those days earned me that skin and the self-confidence.

Before & After

  • Before my 2014 treatment I did not take any Before pictures (and I so wish I did!) but the idea of me in front of a camera with no make up was out of question. Nonetheless, before I went in for my 2015 treatment, I took plenty of Before pictures.
  • Bellow are my 2015 Before pictures and my 2-week After pictures. Remember, the full results for both the CO2 laser and Ultheraphy only show after 3 months, however I am already amazed and in awe at the results just 2 weeks after treatment.

fractional co2 laser

fractional co2 laser

My 2014 Recovery vs My 2015 Recovery

  • My 2015 recovery was much easier compared to 2014.
  • In 2015, the redness,the swelling, the oozing and the weeping were dramatically reduced.
  • In 2014, my face smelled for 2 days; in 2015, I had issues with the smell for only a few hours on Day 3 of recovery.
  • In 2015 I was able to get rid of the Vaseline (in 2014, I used Aquaphor during healing time; in 2015, I switched to Vaseline to help me with itching) a day earlier than 2014.
  • My face still had issues with itching but, as always Dr. Kortesis was right there when I needed him and this time he actually managed to get my itching under control. He is wonderful! The best doctor!

Conclusion

The Fractional CO2 Laser recovery is intense but every stage moves quickly and brings you closer to recovery and to perfect skin and a youthful face. Now I look in the mirror and I admire my face with a smile. There are days I wake up and I have to look in the mirror twice because there’s an actual glow of my skin. I am proud to say: one treatment, one week recovery, one self-confident woman!

Share my article on the Fractional CO2 Laser on Facebook and Twitter and let me know if you had the CO2 Laser done or if you are planning to have the treatment done. 

© Isabella Adkins – 2016

Isabella

I often used to say that my life is about what I want, what I need, what makes me happy. I was proud to be self-centered. However, one of the reasons God created us is for each of us to become the best person God intended for us to be. So God changed my life in such a way to make me realize that life is about what God wants, what God needs, what makes God happy. Today I am so grateful and humbled for God’s intervention to help me gain in wisdom. Read more in the About Me page.

14 Comments
  1. Thank you so much for your comment and advice! I always read extensively on all treatments that I do and only entrust my face to a surgeon who is board certified and has an extensive reputation to proving the best care to his patients.

  2. Hi Isabella,

    How long does it take for the redness and discoloration (those caused by the laser) on your face to completely disappear?

    I’m now 11 days post fractional co2 laser and my face is still red, though the redness has subsided day by day after the procedure.

    Thanks^^

    1. Hi Gigi,
      For my first treatment, it took about 3 weeks. For my second treatment, by week two all the redness went away. On my third treatment, the readiness took the longest to go away almost 6 weeks… It was interesting to see how the skin healed at different rates with each treatment.

  3. Thanks so much for your diary. I just had CO2 fractional laser on Wednesday, so I’m still terribly swollen, puffy and red. I am also encountering the rather unpleasant smell, and was panicking about possible infection. But I’m in no severe pain and the swelling is ever-so-slightly starting to subside (although I have a swollen double chin at the moment which adds to the horrible sight). Reading your post has helped me dig deep and not panic, taking one day at a time! Thank you

    1. Hi Tracy! The recovery is indeed just… horrible and worrisome, no other way to put it. Always double checking with your doctor helps relief the anxiety but I am glad you found comfort in my article 🙂

  4. I DID THE CO2 FULL FACE NON FRAXIONAL IN 96 IN MELBOURNE…AMAZING RESULT THEN AND IT KEPT FOR AGES AGES..I AM NO 52 AND WILL GO FOR LUMENIS FRAX. CO2 IN JAN.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CLOSE