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Ablative Erbium Laser

Laser skin resurfacing is a technique used to rejuvenate the skin and is an alternative to dermabrasion or chemical peel. It is utilized to treat fine lines and wrinkles, as well as pigmentation differences or scars. There are many different types of lasers, but of the lasers considered more aggressive or ablative, the most common are the erbium laser and carbon dioxide. These can also be used in combination or in sequence for amplified results.

Ablative Erbium Laser

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The Skinny


Average Recovery

2 weeks

Permanence

Temporary

Application

Laser/Light Therapy

Surgical

No

Cost

$2000 - $2500

Before & After Images by Provider

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The Specifics


What is ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing?

An ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing procedure is a more aggressive form of laser resurfacing. The ablative component means intense heat is used to vaporize skin cells (unlike non-ablative lasers, which do not destroy skin cells). Ablative laser skin resurfacing treatments stimulate new collagen, tighten/tone skin, and destroy damaged or unevenly pigmented skin cells.

An erbium laser is less intense than an ablative CO2 laser (carbon dioxide) in that it causes less surrounding cell damage due to the more effective absorption of the laser waves. Erbium, therefore, has faster re-epithelization, better hemostasis (blood clotting), and faster recovery times. The results are less dramatic than a CO2 laser, but it is often a safer option for patients with darker skin tones.

What cosmetic concerns does an ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing procedure treat?

  1. Fine Lines & Wrinkles: Ablative lasers stimulate collagen to firm and fill fine lines and wrinkles.
  2. Facial Skin Laxity: Collagen stimulation plumps and tones skin.
  3. Uneven Skin Tone: Removal of old skin layers exposes deeper healthier skin layers.
  4. Uneven Skin Texture: Ablative lasers remove dead skin cells and sebum buildup to smooth skin texture.
  5. Rosacea: Damaged skin cells are ablated and new cells are encouraged to grow.
  6. Melasma: Hyperpigmented skin cells are removed and healthier cells are exposed.
  7. Acne Scars: Ablation of scar tissue encourages new cell growth in the area.

Who is the ideal candidate for an ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing procedure?

The ideal candidate for an ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing has mild to moderate sun damage, fine lines and/or wrinkles, skin laxity (especially of the lower eyelids), changes in skin texture and tone, or some types of precancerous skin lesions. Ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing is not recommended for those with dark skin tones due to the risk of hypopigmentation (areas of low skin pigment).

What is the average recovery associated with an ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing procedure?

Most patients experience one to two weeks of downtime following an ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing. Reddened and raw skin, mild swelling, and itchiness are common following laser resurfacing treatments. Patients can expect skin redness/pinkness to persist for several weeks. Hydrating ointments, skin care, and limited sun exposure can reduce recovery time.

What are the potential side effects of an ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing procedure?

Potential side effects following an ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing include burns or damage to skin cells, scarring, patchy hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation, reactivation of cold sores, bacterial infections, and milia (white bumps).

What can someone expect from the results of an ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing procedure?

The results of an ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing will not be immediately apparent following the treatment, but will develop over a few weeks as skin heals. Patients should take care to avoid sun exposure and utilize sunscreen during the time immediately following the treatment to mitigate the risk of irregular skin pigmentation. The skin results of an ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing will be subject to age related changes and sun damage over time.

What is the average cost of an ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing procedure?

An ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing procedure can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $2,500. The actual cost of an ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing is dependent upon location, provider, and length and involvement of the cosmetic procedure.

Pros

precisioncan target tiny areasdepth more controlled than chemical peelsless postoperative discomfortless risk of demarcation linessafe on the necksafe on the chest

Cons

less dramatic resultshyperpigmentationdemarcation lines at the borders of treatmentlight sensitivity

Invasiveness Score

mildmoderatesevere
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Invasiveness is graded based on factors such as anesthesia practices, incisions, and recovery notes common to this procedure.

The Takeaway


An ablative erbium laser skin resurfacing treatment provides enhancements to skin tone, texture, and facial appearance. Ablative erbium lasers are more targeted and cause less surrounding tissue damage for improved recovery and results.

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Source List

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AEDIT uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. American Academy of Dermatology Many Ways to Firm Sagging Skin
  2. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery Skin Tightening americanboardofcosmeticsurgery.org
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