CO2 Laser Resurfacing – What It Is and What You Need to Know

Co2 laser resurfacing

CO2 Laser Resurfacing is one of my all-time favorite laser treatments because it’s kind of a one stop shop to giving the skin a nice “overhaul.” CO2 Laser resurfacing is an ablative (skin peeling) laser peel that helps to completely resurface the skin, improve texture, reduce and eliminate pigmentation and sun damage, and erases fine lines and wrinkles. That’s right, it does it ALL!  

Who is  CO2 Laser Treatment For?

This treatment is best for lighter skin types and more mature skin that is ready to be resurfaced at a deeper level than chemical peels or microneedling can provide. This intense treatment is completely customized to the patient when it comes to level of aggression we will use in treatment. Every patient has different needs and goals depending on skin type and condition of the skin.

What Does the Laser Actually Do?

With CO2 , the laser heats up the dermal layer of the skin causing tons of collagen stimulation.  You will continue to see the collagen producing effects on the skin for up to 6 months post treatment!

Second, is what this treatment can do for the fine lines and crepey skin under the eyes and around the mouth. Those teeny, tiny etched in lines that cannot be treated with injectables can really be tackled with this laser treatment as the heat can help to “iron” them out. I like to describe it as a shrink-wrap like effect on that thin under eye skin. This is one of my favorite transformative ways to use  CO2  laser 

Does it Hurt? What’s the Downtime?

This treatment involves 7-10 days of downtime. You will not be able to wear makeup or use your normal skincare products for 7-10 full days. You will be very red, swollen, with some “weepy” peeling skin for majority of the week. You will have to also sleep on your back, avoid scratching and avoid the sun. Most patients need time off work, and you would not want to plan any social events during this period. By day 7, we can typically get you back in makeup – and at this point most patients can resume normal activities and work. With that being said, it is new skin and therefore you will be slightly pink for several weeks afterwards as the skin continues to heal. This pinkness is coverable with makeup.

What to Expect During Your Treatment

Two weeks prior to your appointment we will do a “pre-op” visit to go over what to expect and thoroughly go over after care instructions.

On the day of treatment you will arrive to the office and we will start by getting a full set of photos, consents, and get you started on your “lollipop sedation.” The numbing process, to keep patients comfortable, I use a lollipop that contains pain medications, relaxing agents, and an anti-nausea to counteract the pain meds. This blocks the majority of the pain and really helps with patient comfort. Next, I numb the entire face with a strong topical numbing cream, lastly I will perform some lidocaine blocks to numb certain parts of the face completely! Next, I put a numbing drop into the eyes and then place in metal eye shields to completely protect the patient’s eyes from the laser. My #1 concern is always patient safety! Once the patient is completely comfortable I will start the laser process which typically takes about 20 minutes or so to complete. 

After the lasering portion is complete, I will remove the eye shields and begin doing ice soaks to pull heat out of the skin and increase comfortability. All in all, patients are very comfortable during the treatment! 

Afterwards, it will feel like a moderate sunburn for a few hours and fade into a mild sunburn feel for the remainder of the week. There is no residual pain when the treatment is over and all you need to use during the healing process is ibuprofen and ice soaks to alleviate any uncomfortableness should it occur. 

Within 15 minutes or so you are able and ready to head right home! I check in with my patients throughout the week and they always have access to get ahold of me should they need anything during the healing process.

Like I mentioned most people do take 5-7 days off work but others don’t or don’t have the option. As long as you are open to having the conversation, or just ‘wearing it’ then of course you will not be in too much pain to physically work! But your skin will be peeling off in thin pieces, and will look very uneven textures, spotty and after a few days can be very very red and pink and blotchy. So be prepared to have that happen in public. I recommend watching a youtube video to know what you expect! 

However, it’s just ONE week to tighter, brighter, & smoother skin! CO2 is intense but it’s a great way to make big changes in the skin.


Any questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out! 



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Racquel Frisella

Board Certified Nurse Practitioner & Aesthetic Specialist based in Saint Louis, Missouri

I work as a cosmetic injector and skincare specialist with 12 years of experience in the Aesthetic Industry. I see patients both in-office at Racquel Aesthetics for treatments as well as online for customized, complimentary skincare plans. I focus heavily on preventative and corrective injections, treatments, and skincare.  My career is my passion and I love to help people feel like the very best version of themselves. I am a wife and a mother of 3 beautiful children under the age of 3. I love all things beauty, fashion, and fitness. I am creating this site as a place to share my expertise on beauty, anti-aging, and skin while also giving a glimpse into my lifestyle as a mom, wife and lover of fitness!  


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