412-693-6475 Menu

The Cortex™ CO2/Erbium Yag Laser transmits laser beams deep into the dermis to resurface tired, damaged surface skin while stimulating new healthy growth deep from within. This remarkable treatment is customized for each patient and helps to restore the natural glow and beauty of healthy, smooth skin.


Why is the Cortex™ laser particularly attractive to patients who want to improve the youth and vitality of their skin?

To answer this question, it is useful to review the development of cosmetic skin lasers over the last 20 years. During that time, full CO2 (carbon dioxide) laser treatment has been a common treatment to regenerate new skin and reduce the signs of aging. Full CO2 treatment removes the epidermis (top layer of skin) and part of the dermis (inner layer of skin).

Although this ablative laser works effectively to stimulate new skin growth, its aggressiveness causes substantial downtime (up to 4 weeks) and a number of possible risks. These risks include, but are not limited to: infection, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, swelling, pain and the formation of scars. The symptoms after treatment often include a painful, raw face.

Laser Skin Rejuvenation Pittsburgh

To combat the issues associated with full CO2 lasers, non-ablative lasers were created to rejuvenate the skin with less intensity and without vaporizing the tissue. Although non-ablative lasers have considerably less downtime, results are gradual, and a series of treatments are required. In order to get the best of both worlds, fractionated lasers, such as the Cortex™ CO2/Erbium Yag Laser, were developed.

When a fractionated laser is fired, spaces are left between the beams of energy. This creates areas of vaporized skin along with surrounding healthy tissue, which results in faster recovery and less risk of complications. Fractionated lasers like the Cortex™ CO2/Erbium Yag laser has revolutionized the world of laser treatments by resurfacing the skin with less downtime and more safety and effectiveness.

What is the difference between the CO2 Laser and the Erbium Yag Laser?

You will have the option to have a combination of both the CO2 and Erbium Yag laser treatment, or you may receive one or the other. The CO2 Laser penetrates into the dermis (inner layer of the skin) for deep resurfacing. It can decrease the appearance of moderate lines and wrinkles, acne scars, skin texture problems, dyschromias and pigmented lesions.

In contrast, the Erbium Yag laser is for surface treatment of the epidermis (outer layer of skin). It can be used to treat shallow wrinkles and lines, reduce brown spots, and improve skin texture. The Erbium Yag Laser could be used as an alternative to a chemical peel. Dr. Leong or our nurse aesthetician will determine which treatment option is best for you based upon your skin concerns, history and expectations.

What type of patient can be treated with the Cortex™?

The Cortex™ CO2/Erbium Yag Laser is recommended for patients with fair to moderate skin who fall within the Fitzpatrick scale of I-III. The laser could cause hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin) in patients with darker skin. The patient should not be nursing or pregnant, have an immunosuppressive or blood clotting disorder, skin condition or currently be smoking. The patient should be in good general health, with realistic expectations.

How long does treatment take?

The length of treatment depends upon the area being treated. Treatment can take as little as 15 minutes, but as long as 2 hours if there is a large service area to be covered. The Cortex™ CO2/Erbium Yag Laser procedure is done in our state-of-the-art center located in Pittsburgh.

Laser Skin Rejuvenation Pittsburgh

What should I do to prepare for treatment?

In preparation for laser treatment, it is important to:

  • Stay out of the sun and refrain from any laser or chemical peel treatments and Retinoid usage for at least 3-4 weeks prior to treatment.
  • Discuss any current medications that you are taking with the doctor. Certain medications such as Accutane (isotretinoin) can adversely affect treatment results. Blood thinning agents, such as Ibuprofen, Vitamin E, Fish Oil and Alcohol should be avoided.
  • Fill any medication prescribed by the doctor prior to treatment. Antiviral medication is often prescribed to reduce the chance of an outbreak.

The CO2/Erbium Yag Laser procedure is done in our state of the art center located in Pittsburgh.

What is the recovery time after laser skin rejuvenation?

Patients should expect approximately 8 days of downtime. Outlined below is what you can expect on each day following treatment.

  • Day 1 – you look sunburned and your skin will feel tight
  • Day 2 – your skin looks bronzed and darker
  • Day 3 – your skin begins to peel and the area feels itchy
  • Day 5 – the peeling should be subsiding. If needed, you can wear make-up (mineral make-up recommended)
  • Day 6/7 – you are usually back to your baseline
  • Day 8/9 – redness typically resolves

Please note that the recovery time of the neck area is usually longer. It takes approximately 2 - 3 weeks to bronze and peel.

Paul Leong MD FACS

The Facial Specialist

Dr. Leong completed his medical degree at the Yale University School of Medicine. He then dedicated the next seven years honing his skills specifically in head, face, and neck surgery at the University of Pittsburgh—a university consistently ranked among the top five otolaryngology programs in the country. Dr. Leong continued to develop his surgical skills through a fellowship in Advanced Oncologic Surgery of the Head and Neck at the Pittsburgh Medical Center. This was followed by yet another fellowship in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Oregon Health Sciences University.

What are the post-treatment instructions?

Our office will provide you with a full list of post-treatment instructions, but some of the primary instructions include:

  • It is vital to continually keep the skin moist after treatment with an ointment or moisturizer. Occlusive products such as Vaseline and Aquaphor work well to retain moisture and should be applied at least 2-3 times daily.
  • Purchase a gentle cleanser and a quality SPF to protect the area from the sun.
  • Avoid the sun, excessive dryness or heat.
  • Cool compresses such as wet paper towels or frozen peas help to ease the sunburned/tight feeling normally felt on day one.
  • To relieve itching, it is helpful to create a solution of vinegar and water (1 teaspoon of vinegar and 2 cups of water).
  • Eat healthy, refrain from alcohol and drink plenty of water.
  • You may take Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen after treatment to reduce pain or discomfort.

How long do the results last?

The longevity of results depends upon how well the patient has followed post op instructions and maintains an appropriate skin care regimen. Please keep in mind that as you get older, skin continues to age, and you may benefit from receiving additional treatments to sustain results.

Dr. Paul Leong is a facial plastic surgeon who focuses exclusively on the face and neck. For more information about Dr. Leong, please visit his biography page or contact our practice today.

Contact Sistine Facial Plastic Surgery

To learn more about some of the best laser skin resurfacing Pittsburgh has to offer, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Paul Leong to talk more about this treatment, please contact Sistine Facial Plastic Surgery today.

Schedule A Consultation

Schedule a Consultation