No matter how well we care for our skin, we can’t fight the march of time. As the years go by, sun exposure, stress, and aging (and, for smokers, tobacco) leave their unmistakable marks upon our bodies—and especially upon our faces. Regardless of the forms these marks take—whether they’re fine lines, wrinkles, sunspots, acne scars, liver spots, or discoloration—when they appear, most people’s response is the same: How can I get rid of these?

When it comes to treating and rejuvenating skin, there’s a basic rule of thumb: the more drastic the procedure, the more drastic the results.

This may be an unpleasant reality to have to face—we all have our lives to live, and spending more than a week recovering from a facial treatment is not at the top of many people’s priority list. And for some, extreme treatment is unnecessary anyway; there are a lucky few out there who can see positive (though minimal) results simply from routinely applying Retin-A and alpha hydroxy acid creams to problem areas, or from undergoing slightly less aggressive laser treatments (such as fraxel or erbium laser treatments).

For many, however, even fraxel and erbium laser are simply not going to achieve the results they desire. That’s where CO2 laser resurfacing comes in. It will take at least a couple of weeks before the redness begins to fade, and you will experience some swelling and oozing in the area of skin that was treated for the first five to seven days after the procedure—but the CO2 laser’s ability to erase fine lines and wrinkles (especially crow’s feet and smile lines), pigment disorders (age spots, liver spots, uneven skin tones and sunspots), and scarring (including scarring from chickenpox or acnes) is unmatched by other lasers used for skin treatment. Once you heal, your skin will be softer, smoother, and more even than you’ve seen it in years.

The decision to undergo skin rejuvenation is an investment in your future. If the wrinkles, scars, or discoloration on your face are superficial or barely noticeable, treatment this aggressive may not seem worth it to you to pursue; however, if you want to see a real change, don’t let promises of shorter recovery times sway you from CO2 laser resurfacing—it’s the only laser treatment that will produce the drastic results you want.