Skin resurfacing using fractional CO2 laser has a more severe downtime than my well-loved pampa-blooming TCA peel procedure. Despite this unfortunate consequence, it is able to improve my deepest & most discouraging acne scars better than any chemical peel.
But before you commit to a more aggressive acne scar treatment, you may want to check the kind of downtime this scar-busting procedure can give your skin.
Day 0: I look severely, overly, very, annoyingly RED immediately after the treatment (as shown on my first fraxel* post). Positive facial swelling. Dot marks on the skin only visible upon close scrutiny.
Self-Consciousness Factor: 4/5
I feel abnormally self-conscious because I came to the clinic with a normal-looking face and went out looking bloody red. However, since I come out of the clinic after dusk (around 7pm), I get less uncomfortably conscious about my reddened face making the 4/5 rating drop to 2/5.
Days 1-2: Less reddish but notably more swollen. Untreated areas of the skin, for some reason, look soft and nice. Dot marks still less visible but begins to turn brownish towards the end of Day 2.
Self-Consciousness Factor: 2/5
I'm still able to meet people but I'm definitely aware that they're whispering behind my back saying, "mukhang nagpaderma." Definitely not the best time to see someone you have a crush on so better be around two types of people only: those who love you for who you are and those you care less about.
Days 3-4: Burnt-look. Dotted marks start to look very brown, almost scab-like, and micropeeling around the "screen wounds" take place. Skin looks rough especially on the nose area. Facial swelling is remarkably reduced by Day 4 though.
Self-Consciousness Factor: 4-5/5
I hang around with only one type of people: those who love me for who I am. I stay home and refuse to go out by Day 4.
Day 5: Major peeling happens on Day 5. Still, I refuse to leave home.
Self-Consciousness Factor: 5/5
Days 6,7, 8: Redemption Days. Approx 90% of the scabs completely peel off to reveal better-looking skin on Day 6. The scabs that are the last to go off are those on the sides of my face, nose, and on the temples. Some dot marks especially those on the nasal area may still be rough-looking.
Self-Consciousness Factor: 0-1/5
There may still be scabs and dot marks on some areas of the face but the new skin that has resurfaced definitely makes up for it decreasing the self-conscious factor at its lowest. Still, Day 6 is not the best day to be seen by the guy who makes you swoon --- only because you want everything to be perfect when he's around.
Day 6 of Laser Resurfacing session 2: 90% peeled! Do you notice the dot marks along my lower mandible area?
This timeline is what has generally happened to my skin post-fractional CO2 laser treatment on sessions 1-3. My latest treatment, just last Thursday, yielded a quicker-paced timeline perhaps because Doctor Foronda shifted my retinoids from 0.05% to a 0.1%.
There's a catch to the early onset of peeling, though. I've never had post-fraxel peeling as unsightly as this:
Day 4 heavy peeling. Day 3 had more of those unsightly peeling scabs.
It may be a cliche but the good old saying holds very true for skin resurfacing via fractional CO2 laser: No pain, no gain. If you're ready to go through purposeful scabbing while becoming overly self-conscious for days, then you're definitely a step closer to better skin with less embarrassing acne scars!
*fraxel - I only use this term to shorten fractional CO2 laser. The Multixel machine is used for my treatment.