The conclusion was reached by researchers at the University of Michigan who studied the effects of the laser treatment on 47 patients between 1996 and 2004. This long-term follow up helped the researchers look with more confidence and detail at the after-effects.
Carbon dioxide laser resurfacing is a well-known treatment that works by vaporizing the water molecules inside and outside the skin cells causing thermal damage to the surrounding tissue.
This shock provokes the production of the protein collagen in the skin which in turn fills in wrinkles, according to the researchers.
Assessing the treatment, the authors of the study in the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery said: "Our results verify those of previous studies that found that carbon dioxide laser resurfacing leads to long-term improvement in facial rhytidosis (wrinkles)."
However, over half of those who underwent the treatment suffered some kind of complication.
Milia or acne was the most common complaint while others suffered from hypopigmentation (skin lightening), hyperpigmentation (skin darkening), sagging eyelids, and infection.
Despite the frequency of skin complaints most problems were cleared up quickly.
"With the exception of one case of hyperpigmentation, which resolved within two years of treatment, hypopigmentation was the only long-term adverse effect," said authors Daniel Ward and Shaun Baker.
Six patients suffered from hypopigmentation but were also more likely to have a greater response to the treatment.
"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," added the authors.
Source: Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, 2008;10(4):238-243Long-term Results of Carbon Dioxide Laser Resurfacing of the Face.P. Daniel Ward, Shan R. Baker.