CO2 Laser Vs Erbium YAG Laser

CO2 lasers and erbium YAG lasers are both types of lasers used in medical and cosmetic procedures, particularly in dermatology and plastic surgery. While they both have applications in skin resurfacing and rejuvenation, they differ in several key aspects:

  1. Wavelength:

    • CO2 lasers emit light at a wavelength of 10,600 nanometers (nm), which is absorbed well by water.
    • Erbium YAG lasers emit light at a wavelength of 2,940 nm.
  2. Tissue Interaction:

    • CO2 lasers are primarily absorbed by water in the tissues. They vaporize the water content in the skin cells, leading to tissue ablation (removal) and subsequent collagen remodeling.
    • Erbium YAG lasers have a higher absorption coefficient in water than CO2 lasers, allowing them to remove thinner layers of skin with less thermal damage to surrounding tissues. This makes them suitable for more superficial treatments.
  3. Depth of Penetration:

    • CO2 lasers penetrate more deeply into the skin compared to erbium YAG lasers. They are often used for deeper skin resurfacing and treatment of wrinkles, scars, and other deep skin imperfections.
    • Erbium YAG lasers have shallower penetration depth and are typically used for more superficial treatments, such as fine lines, pigmentation issues, and surface irregularities.
  4. Recovery Time:

    • CO2 laser treatments generally have a longer recovery time compared to erbium YAG laser treatments due to the deeper tissue ablation and potential for more significant post-procedural redness, swelling, and discomfort.
    • Erbium YAG laser treatments typically have a shorter recovery time and less post-procedural discomfort, making them more suitable for patients who cannot afford extended downtime.
  5. Indications:

    • CO2 lasers are often preferred for treating deeper wrinkles, severe photoaging, scars (including acne scars), and other deeper skin imperfections.
    • Erbium YAG lasers are commonly used for superficial wrinkles, mild to moderate photoaging, pigmentation irregularities, and superficial scars.
  6. Risk Profile:

    • CO2 lasers have a higher risk of causing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, especially in patients with darker skin types, due to the greater thermal damage and longer recovery time.
    • Erbium YAG lasers are considered safer for use in patients with darker skin types because they produce less thermal damage and have a shallower penetration depth.
Back to blog