Several series have documented the ability of the carbon dioxide laser to smooth facial rhytids; however, follow-up has been limited to several months. Since 1995, more than 600 full or partial facial resurfacings were performed with the pulsed CO2 laser. To assess the long-term efficacy and safety of this procedure, the results of 211 resurfacings were retrospectively reviewed using a custom-designed database. Variables that were input included patient demographics, Fitzpatrick skin type, smoking history, prior and concurrent facial procedures, laser pass data, and postoperative complications. Short and long-term aesthetic results were graded by a blinded panel of plastic surgery reviewers (none of whom performed the laser resurfacing) using a standardized photographic rhytid scale. For each facial region, this scale consisted of eight high-resolution photographs depicting increasingly severe wrinkling. Facial rhytids were almost completely ablated at the 3 and 6 month follow-up. Some relapse was seen at 1 year, but the overall aesthetic result remained very good. Regions with dynamic rhytids (e.g., the perioral region) showed more recurrence. The best and most durable results were seen in the cheeks. Infection and scleral show each occurred in 13 patients (6 percent). Forty-five patients (21 percent) developed postprocedure hyperpigmentation, but the overwhelming majority of this group were treated before our postoperative antipigment regimen. Hypopigmentation was noted in 17 patients (8 percent) in this early follow-up group. Two patients (1 percent) developed postoperative scarring. It is hoped that these data will serve to provide additional information on the long-term results of laserbrasion.
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