Utah’s Leading CO2 Laser Resurfacing Clinic

Do you struggle with fine lines, dark age spots, or other signs of aging that make you feel self -conscious about your appearance? CO2 laser resurfacing could be the solution you've been searching for! This advanced laser technology targets damaged skin cells with precision, stimulating collagen production and promoting natural healing and regeneration. The result is smoother, clearer, and more youthfullooking skin, with reduced dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles, improved texture and tone, and a more radiant complexion overall. CO2 laser resurfacing is a popular choice for those seeking to rejuvenate their skin and achieve a more confident, youthful appearance.

What is CO2 Laser Resurfacing?

Our most powerful and effective treatment for skin rejuvenation and scar revision, the CO2 laser procedure treats skin irregularities such as pigment, sunspots, acne scars, and other common blemishes. In addition, the treatment fills fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating the body to produce more collagen. Some downtime is required but the results are the gold standard for facial rejuvenation. Contact our office today to learn more about our skin resurfacing treatment where we serve Cottonwood Heights and the greater Salt Lake City area.

What Is Skin Resurfacing?

Skin resurfacing is a rejuvenating treatment that works by removing the uppermost layer of tissue, where visible signs of sun damage or scarring are present. Concerns often treated with this technique include sunspots (or age spots), uneven skin tone, dullness, textural irregularities, scarring, lines and wrinkles, and thin skin on the face, neck, and chest.

There are a number of methods for skin resurfacing, all of which have advantages and disadvantages. At Ward Institute in Cottonwood Heights, we perform laser skin resurfacing with the CO2 platform from Candela. This type of CO2 laser resurfacing uses fractional technology, which means that the device harnesses one of the most effective types of laser energy, Carbon Dioxide, and controls its aggressiveness by fractionating, or separating, light into pinpoints.

The CO2 Laser Resurfacing Procedure

How Does CO2 Skin Resurfacing Work?

CO2 laser is one of the most powerful cosmetic lasers out there. It essentially vaporizes the water from the skin cells in its path, causing a burn that removes the uppermost layer of tissue, where visible signs of sun damage, wrinkles, or scarring are present. A very controlled burn, but a burn nonetheless. This damage causes a strong local inflammatory reaction and stimulates the body to heal itself.

Let us compare this to a traumatic burn, such as from a fire or a hot oven rack. Initially, the damaged skin feels very hot and red, swells, and then the cells that are too damaged die and slough off after a few days. Then the body heals that defect by building fresh skin cells beneath it. Now the difference between a campfire burn and a CO2 laser burn is that a fire causes such extensive damage to the entire surface that it touches and carries that damage deep below the upper layers of skin. This means that when the new cells begin to divide and grow, they overcompensate for the damage and reinforce the area by building a thick scar.

The critical difference between a traumatic burn and CO2 laser resurfacing is that the laser has a tightly regulated depth of penetration (it only reaches the epidermal or dermal layer of the skin, depending on the provider’s preferences), distribution (the laser only touches a fraction of the surface area rather than 100% of the surface area like an actual fire), and length of exposure (a fraction of a second versus several seconds with a fire). CO2 laser carefully stimulates collagen production and evenly resurfaces the treated area. Collagen helps to tighten the skin and give it a beautiful healthy glow. Resurfacing removes the old, damaged skin cells at the surface, including ones that have deposited excess pigment. The result is naturally firm and glowing skin with a more evened tone.

Some of the contraction or shrinking of the skin happens immediately. However, collagen production takes several months to visibly see. The inflammatory response begins right away, but actually manufacturing enough collagen that you can visually see a difference takes time. So expect to see some immediate results, and then continued improvement in skin tone and texture for up to a year or more.

Who Is An Ideal Candidate For a CO2 Laser Resurfacing?

Ideal candidates for CO2 laser resurfacing include those with aging skin, wrinkles, sunspots, or scarring. This procedure is only safe for those with lighter natural skin tones. You should be able to commit to staying out of the sun for a minimum of 2 weeks following your procedure. It is also important that you are not a “picker” as scratching or picking at the treated areas can lead to scarring and pigmentary changes. While it does not automatically disqualify you from receiving laser treatments, be sure to let your provider know about any skin infections you get including cold sores around the mouth. They will help you manage these conditions to make your laser treatment safer. At your consultation appointment, your medical history will be reviewed to ensure that you do not have any conditions that would make CO2 laser treatment unsafe for you.

Procedure Description

At Ward Institute, we want you to get the absolute most out of your treatment. That’s why we include a full system of products and services to enhance your results. 2 weeks before your full-face laser treatment, you will be provided with a CO2 skin care system. This includes the products you will need to prepare your skin prior to treatment and support the healing process after treatment.

At your pre-procedure appointment, you will also receive a complimentary Signature Tox treatment. While it may simply sound like a great perk, this Signature. Tox treatment is actually critical to your healing. Tox (Botox or Dysport) weakens the muscles contractions that cause wrinkles. While you are healing from your laser treatment, wrinkling the burnt skin can be very uncomfortable and could potentially lead to scarring.

At this appointment, you will also be prescribed any necessary medications. This is done completely on a case-by-case basis. Antibiotics are not typically necessary because, as long as you follow the strict cleaning protocol, you really shouldn’t need them. Unnecessary antibiotics can make you more susceptible to other infections, deteriorate your gut health, and introduce other risks. To improve your comfort during the procedure, you will be prescribed a strong prescription numbing cream. You will apply this numbing cream to the full treatment area approximately an hour before you ever even arrive at the clinic for your treatment. Most patients are very grateful for this extra numbing preparation.

At the clinic, you will be led to our special laser procedure room where your provider will inject numbing anesthetic throughout the whole face. This is probably the most uncomfortable part of the day. After the numbing injections have taken effect, you should not experience any major discomfort. One of our skilled medical assistants will also draw a few vials of your blood to be used after the laser. This will be addressed in a moment.

Then, your laser treatment begins. This takes somewhere around 1-2 hours, depending on the individual. ...

Recovery Process

For the first several hours following treatment, it will feel like a severe sunburn with radiating heat and mild tenderness. You will also likely experience mild bleeding and some scabbing. This stage does not last long. You will also notice significant swelling, especially the morning following treatment. Expect puffy eyes that may not open completely for a day or two. This is completely normal. While it may sound scary, the aftermath of CO2 laser resurfacing looks far worse than it feels.

The majority of the healing process takes place over the next 1-2 weeks. Around day 4 or 5 you’ll enter the sloughing stage. All the burnt, damaged skin starts to peel off. These dead skin cells are coated with the ointment, making a sort of paste. This paste may produce a mildly foul odor that lasts for 2-3 days. During the sloughing stage, you can expect some itchiness. It is critical during this time to keep your skin clean and completely covered in ointment to avoid drying out, infection, scarring, or pigmentary changes. As long as you follow the detailed aftercare instructions, this phase usually passes within a few days without issue.

Tip: Depending on the individual, the sloughing phase can be frustratingly itchy. If this is the case, please let us know so that we can guide you in safe and effective ways to manage the itching. It will never be a totally relaxing process, but we want to make it as comfortable as possible. Staff are available for calls and questions even on weekends and after hours to serve you.

You may notice during the sloughing phase that many dark spots you intended to erase actually become darker. Fear not. This is the pigment coming closer to the surface in preparation for the slough. Within a few days, those spots will fall right off.

Once the sloughing phase is complete, you will feel significantly better. You will remain fairly red for about a month but will be able to wear sunscreen and makeup at that point. Plan on the redness fading slowly over about a year. For patients that would like to expedite the resolution of the redness, one or two IPL treatments can be very helpful.



After a CO2 laser resurfacing treatment, patients can expect to see some immediate skin tightening. Other results including reduction in pigmentation and improved texture will continue to develop over the course of 12+ months as the skin continues to heal and regenerate collagen. Within about 2 weeks after your CO2 laser procedure, you should be able to start going out in public and participating in your normal activities, provided you wear the recommended sunscreen and take all other precautions as directed. It's important to follow the post-treatment instructions provided by your doctor to ensure proper healing and to minimize the risk of complications.

Once healed, you should enjoy significantly smoother and tighter skin with far fewer fine lines and wrinkles. You’ll notice tightening of the eyelids, reduction of dark spots, and a generally more youthful appearance.

While most patients are very happy with the results of a single treatment, it is safe to repeat CO2 laser resurfacing as early as 2 weeks after your initial treatment depending on the recommendation of your provider. For deeper scarring, you may be happier with additional treatments.


  • I’m so glad that I put my trust in Dr. Ward. His skill and sense of aesthetic are impeccable and the surgery has changed my life for the better! In addition, his staff is also incredible and hand-picked. They helped ease my nervousness and told me what to expect pre and post-op.

  • I’m so glad that I put my trust in Dr. Ward. His skill and sense of aesthetic are impeccable and the surgery has changed my life for the better! In addition, his staff is also incredible and hand-picked. They helped ease my nervousness and told me what to expect pre and post-op.

Portrait of plastic surgery patient Testimonial

CO2 Laser Resurfacing FAQ

Is Laser Skin Resurfacing Permanent?

After CO2 treatment, it is possible to enjoy younger-looking skin for several years. Obviously, the natural aging process continues. However, there are ways that you can maintain the beauty that is achieved during your appointment. Because we know that UV light degrades collagen and leads to brown spots, wrinkles, and other problems, sun protection is one of the first recommendations that is made to any person interested in preserving a youthful appearance.

Results continue to improve for 12+ months after treatment. Most patients are very satisfied with the results of a single treatment. However, some may elect to repeat the procedure to treat more stubborn scars and pigment, or to simply rejuvenate the skin after several more years of aging have passed.

Can C02 Laser Resurfacing Remove Acne Scars?
How Long Does The Treatment Last?

The treatment itself requires a few hours of time in the office. This is because we want to provide sufficient time for topical anesthetic or any sedative medication to take full effect prior to commencing with the procedure. Direct treatment time is usually about 1-2 hours. If a sedative has been given, we may monitor you for a short time once your procedure is complete. It will be necessary to have someone drive you home.

Is Laser Treatment Safe?
Does it Hurt?
What To Expect After CO2 Laser Resurfacing?

The Consultation

On the day of your consultation, you will be greeted by our friendly and helpful reception staff. They will guide you through the necessary paperwork. You will then be led to our state -of-the-art photography studio where our photographer will capture images of your face at various angles. It is important that you not wear any kind of makeup during these photos because these will be used as a visual baseline and “before” comparison for all your “after” pictures following your procedure.

A Medical Assistant will then gather your medical history. At this point you will meet your provider. Make sure you take this opportunity to express your aesthetic goals as well as any questions or concerns you may have. Your provider will review treatment options with you, including the risks and benefits of each. Together, you will develop a plan to achieve realistic aesthetic goals. A Patient Care Coordinator will then provide you with a quote, answer any other questions you may have, and give you the opportunity to schedule your chosen procedure. Your Patient Care Coordinator will be an excellent resource who will guide you through your aesthetic journey at Ward Institute. Please feel free to contact them with any questions or concerns you may have along the way.