The Role of the CO2 Laser and Fractional CO2 Laser in Dermatology
Background: Tremendous advances have been made in the medical application of the laser in the past few decades. Many diseases in the dermatological field are now indications for laser treatment that qualify for reimbursement by many national health insurance systems. Among laser types, the carbon dioxide (CO2) laser remains an important system for the dermatologist.
Rationale: The lasers used in photosurgery have wavelengths that differ according to their intended use and are of various types, but the CO2 laser is one of the most widely used lasers in the dermatology field. With its wavelength in the mid-infrared at 10,600 nm, CO2 laser energy is wellabsorbed in water. As skin contains a very high water percentage, this makes the CO2 laser ideal for precise, safe ablation with good hemostasis. In addition to its efficacy in ablating benign raised lesions, the CO2 laser has been reported to be effective in the field of esthetic dermatology in the revision of acne scars as well as in photorejuvenation. With the addition of fractionation of the beam of energy into myriad microbeams, the fractional CO2 laser has offered a bridge between the frankly full ablative indications and the nonablative skin rejuvenation systems of the 2000s in the rejuvenation of photoaged skin on and off the face.
Conclusions: The CO2 laser remains an efficient, precise and safe system for the dermatologist. Technological advances in CO2 laser construction have meant smaller spot sizes and greater precision for laser surgery, and more flexibility in tip sizes and protocols for fractional CO2 laser treatment. The range of dermatological applications of the CO2 laser is expected to continue to increase in the future.
Keywords: CO2 laser; fractional laser; laser ablation; nevus; photorejuvenation; verruca.