What are some main differences between Fractional CO2 and Fractional Erbium laser?

Doctor's Answers (1)

Dr Chin Yee Choong

"Dedicated to the ethical practice of Aesthetic Medicine"

Both CO2 laser and Erbium-YAG laser are known as ablative lasers, which means that tissue is actually destroyed, not just damaged, in the path of the laser. Both lasers work by targeting water in the skin that lies in the path of the laser light.

The key differences between the 2 lasers lie in their differing wavelengths. This, in turn, affects the degree of absorption of the laser light, depth of ablation and heat diffusion (how much heat spreads laterally). The differences may influence the downtime and results of the laser treatment. In short:

  • Erbium-YAG laser wavelength is typically 2940nm and CO2 is 10,600nm.
  • Erbium-YAG wavelength is more highly absorbed by water
  • CO2 laser penetrates deeper
  • CO2 laser is associated with greater lateral heat diffusion 

In clinical practice, Fractional CO2 laser is associated with possibly better results due to its greater depth penetration and lateral heat diffusion translating to greater collagen remodelling albeit with slightly longer downtime.

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