Best Laser For Acne Scarring: CO2 VS Fraxel (Which Is Better?)

Do you suffer from acne scarring?

Have you been looking for the best possible way to take care of your acne scarring issue, even if it means having a more intensive treatment performed than just using a cream at home?

Would you like to learn more about the best lasers for acne scars that may be available to you?

If so, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll help you learn everything you need to know about the two options you have to choose from when you’re looking to treat your acne scars with lasers.

Laser treatments aren’t for everyone, but if you’re someone who would like to manage your scarring through something more intensive and long-lasting than other treatments, this may be something you should bring up with your dermatologist. These types of treatments are generally reserved for people who have more severe scarring due to acne, but even if yours is moderate, you may be able to qualify for laser treatment.

Below, we’ll walk you through both options so you can determine which is the best laser for acne scarring[2] to suit your needs. They’re both fairly similar in the way they work and in what they do, but there are some key differences you’ll want to keep in mind before making your final decision.

There’s a lot to learn on this topic, especially if you are unfamiliar with these kinds of treatments, so let’s get started.

best lasers for acne scars

Real name: Carbon dioxide laser skin resurfacing

Any other names: CO2 Laser Treatment

With the CO2 laser skin resurfacing treatment, you’ll notice results after the first session, but you’ll need to keep going back for follow-up treatments until the procedure is totally complete. This process removes the layers of your skin slowly using lasers to essentially vaporize them, one layer at a time. This is very similar to the way microdermabrasion works, and it’s also similar to chemical peels. However, the biggest difference is the use of the laser itself, which makes this a more effective but also more intense treatment in the long run.

Through this process, the laser’s intensity is focused specifically for the needs of your individual skin. It can be changed depending on how affected a specific area of your face may be. There are generally three options your dermatologist will choose from when determining which intensity is right for your skin. For example, he or she may choose to use the ultra pulse method for resurfacing but go to the focused setting when your skin needs to be gently cut without causing any bleeding.


  • People who have severe acne scarring have seen great results with this method, especially with dedicated treatments over the course of some time.
  • Many patients enjoy the skin tightening and age-defying side effects of this procedure, even though that may not be the initial reason for the procedure.


  • Some patients have reported receiving different scars in the long run through this process, and may find that it simply isn’t worth it to trade off one scar for another.
  • Some patients may dislike the downtime after the procedure in which old skin is prone to sloughing off and causing an overall unhealthy and unwanted facial appearance.
different types of lasers

Real name: Fraxel laser treatment

Any other names: Fraxel re:fine, Fraxel Dual, Fraxel re:pair

Fraxel is another type of laser treatment for acne scarring and other skin issues that works slightly differently than the CO2 laser. With Fraxel, you can choose between three different types of lasers. Your dermatologist may recommend one more than another depending on your specific needs. The first of these, the Fraxel re:fine laser, is non-ablative and will smooth and rejuvenate your skin. The second, Fraxel Dual, is non-ablative and targets damaged skin to encourage new collagen production

The last option, Fraxel re:pair, is usually what is recommended for patients dealing with acne scarring. This is an intense treatment that starts showing results almost immediately, although it may still require more than one treatment before patients get to the point where they want to be with their acne scarring. This procedure will smooth skin and help soften deeper scarring as well.


  • With enough treatments, Fraxel can usually take care of most types of scarring as well as other types of skin damage with little to no residual scarring remaining.
  • Fraxel may be much more affordable overall than many other types of laser treatments, depending on your location.


  • When you have the Fraxel re:pair laser treatment performed, you may have to have a little more downtime than you’ll require with the other two options, and this downtime may last up to a week in some patients.
  • Many patients have trouble dealing with the sunburned feeling and appearance of their skin following any form of this laser treatment.


So how do you feel about your options? As you can see, the two aren’t entirely different from each other, and no matter which option you go with, you’re going to end up having a similar treatment experience. Both types of laser treatments for acne scars involve having lasers either passed over your skin or pulsed onto your skin, depending on the strength and intensity required by the specific procedure. And in both instances, you’re going to have at least a little bit of downtime in which your skin may look burned or feel a little painful to the touch.

best laser for acne scarring

However, when it comes down to it, there is one option that stands out a little more than the other. We believe that the CO2 laser treatment option is slightly better for acne scarring. This treatment has been around a little bit longer and has had a slightly better overall success rate among patients who have given it a try. This treatment is also somewhat less painful in the long run than the Fraxel treatment may be, and there’s a good chance you’ll only have negative downtime for a couple of days following CO2 as opposed to several days or even a week with Fraxel.

In the end, however, the decision is entirely yours. You’ll have to figure out which option fits best into your budget, which one may be offered in your location, and which suits your needs the best as well. Your dermatologist will likely have some recommendations for you, too, so don’t forget to speak to him or her and ask about both forms of acne scarring treatment before you make your final decision. Either way, you’re sure to love the results you’ll get when you have your scarring treated with laser therapy!


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