Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Carbon Dioxide Laser Resurfacing Has Good -- but Not Unblemished -- Record of Treating Wrinkles Long Term

WebMD Health News

Laser Resurfacing: Lasting Wrinkle Fix?

July 21, 2008 -- Laser resurfacing of the skin may be an effective long-lasting wrinkle treatment, but there may be drawbacks for some.

A new study shows laser resurfacing using a carbon dioxide laser reduced the appearance of wrinkles by 45% more than two years after treatment.

Researchers say carbon dioxide lasers work by vaporizing water molecules inside and outside cells, which damages the surrounding tissue. The skin's natural response to this damage is to produce more of the protein collagen, which reduces the appearance of wrinkles.

Most side effects of the high-tech wrinkle treatment were short term, such as acne, darkening of skin, and infection. But the study showed 13% of those who underwent laser resurfacing also developed a lasting lightening of skin color.

"In addition to structural changes, the healing process frequently leads to pigmentary [coloring] changes," write P. Daniel Ward, MD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues in the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery. "These changes in skin pigmentation may be desirable, such as when patients wish to remove solar evidence of aging; however, changes in pigmentation after treatment can often be a troubling adverse effect."

Zapping Wrinkles for Good

In the study, researchers followed 42 women and five men (average age 52) who underwent carbon dioxide laser resurfacing on their entire face between 1996 and 2004.

The results showed 45% experienced no complications following the wrinkle treatment. Of those who did have complications, the most common were:

  • Acne (30%)
  • Darkening of the skin (17%)
  • Lightening of the skin (13%)

In addition, 2% developed an infection after the laser resurfacing.

After more than two years of follow-up, most of these side effects had improved, and facial wrinkles had improved by 45% on average.

But 13% of the participants experienced lightening of the skin that persisted after a year. These patients were also more likely to have had a greater response to the wrinkle treatment.

Researchers say treatment with chemical peels using glycolic acid or tricholoroacetic acid may help blend the lines of demarcation between treated and untreated skin. They say the risk of developing this side effect may be minimized by advising people to use sunscreen before and after laser resurfacing treatment.

URAC: Accredited Health Web Site TRUSTe online privacy certification HONcode Seal AdChoices