Skin Care after Fractionated Carbon Dioxide Laser Treatment

This information will help you care for your skin after your fractionated carbon dioxide (CO2) laser treatment.  

After CO2 laser treatment, it usually takes about 1 to 2 weeks for your skin to heal. Your skin will be very sensitive during this time. Follow the guidelines below to help your skin heal and prevent infection.

Some people need several treatments to get the best results. You can ask your doctor about how many treatments you may need.

Skin Care after CO2 Laser Treatment

Once your CO2 laser treatment is complete, your nurse will give you an ice pack to cover the treated area.  Hold the ice pack on the treated area for 15 minutes. This will help reduce swelling and make you more comfortable.

Before you leave, your nurse will cover the treated area with petroleum jelly (Vaseline®) or mupirocin (Bactroban®) and a bandage.

At home

You can shower right away after your treatment. Don’t take a bath until the treated area has healed.

  • For the first 2 to 3 days after your treatment:
    • Apply an ice pack wrapped in a soft cloth to the treated area. Hold the ice pack on the treated area for 15 to 20 minutes. Do this 1 to 5 times each day. After the first 2 to 3 days, use the ice pack as needed.
 
  • For __________ days after your treatment:
    • Gently wash the treated area with ____________________ and apply ____________________ ointment. Do this 2 times each day.
    • Keep the treated area covered with a dressing or bandage (Band-Aid®). Change the dressing 2 times each day, after you wash the area.
  • For 1 to 2 weeks after your treatment:
    • Don’t use saunas, swimming pools, baths, or hot tubs (such as a Jacuzzi®).
    • Don’t shave over the treated area.
  • Don’t wear makeup on the treated area until it’s completely healed.
  • Avoid exposing the treated area to the sun until it’s completely healed. If you need to be in the sun, use sunscreen with at least SPF 30 or wear clothing or a hat that protects the treated area from the sun.

It usually takes several weeks for people to see improvement in the treated area. During this time, the area may turn a red or blackish color, and a crust may form. This should gradually go away over 7 to 14 days. Don’t pick at or remove the crust. It will fall off on its own.

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Medications after CO2 Laser Treatment

If you have pain or discomfort, taking acetaminophen (Tylenol®) may help. Ask your doctor or nurse how much acetaminophen you should take.

Don’t take acetaminophen if you have liver problems. If you’re having pain but have a history of liver problems, call your doctor’s office.

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Call Your Doctor if You Have:

  • A temperature of 101° F (38.3° C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Green or yellowish drainage from the treated area
  • Increased pain or discomfort
  • Increased redness or swelling around the treated area
  • Bleeding that doesn’t stop when you apply pressure
  • Pain or discomfort that isn’t helped by pain medication
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