How does it work?

Carbon dioxide lasers have been in use for many years to treat different non-cancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) skin conditions. A new generation of carbon dioxide lasers uses very short-pulsed light energy (ultrapulsed) or continuous light beams that are delivered in a scanning pattern. These lasers very precisely remove thin layers of skin with minimal heat damage to the surrounding structures. Such lasers have been successfully used to treat wrinkles (rhytides), photodamage and scars, as well as other benign skin growths such as warts, linear epidermal nevi (birthmarks), rhinophyma (enlarged oil glands on the nose), and other skin conditions.

The field of carbon dioxide laser resurfacing is rapidly progressing and evolving. The ability to rejuvenate sun-damaged, wrinkled skin has been revolutionized by this new technology. Carbon dioxide laser resurfacing is yet another tool in our treatment options, which include Retin-A® products, vitamin C lotion, alpha hydroxy acids, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, collagen or fat augmentation, and botulinum toxin for decreasing facial lines and scars. Patients are encouraged to seek out surgeons with documented training and experience in laser surgery.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/01/2015.


  • Alexiades-Armenakas M, Dover J, Arndt K. The spectrum of laser skin resurfacing: Nonablative, fractional, and ablative laser resurfacing. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2008; 58(5):719-737.
  • Perkins S, Henry D. Management of aging skin. In: Flint, PW. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 2010:Chap 27.
  • Tanzi EL, Alster TS. Skin resurfacing: ablative lasers, chemical peels, and dermabrasion. In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, Katz SI et al, editors. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 7th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Medical; 2008:Chap 252.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy