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Ablative Fractional Laser Skin Resurfacing

Ablative fractional laser skin resurfacing utilizes laser energy to precisely remove layers of damaged skin. By depositing heat deep into the skin, this treatment eliminates previously pigmented skin. The technique is used as a treatment for fine and deep wrinkles, scars, and skin lesions. It can also be used to improve skin complexion and loss of skin tone.

Ablative Fractional Laser Skin Resurfacing

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The Skinny


Average Recovery

18 days

Permanence

Temporary

Application

Laser/Light Therapy

Surgical

No

Cost

$2000 - $12500

The Specifics


What is ablative fractional laser skin resurfacing?

An ablative fractional laser skin resurfacing procedure is a more aggressive form of laser resurfacing. The ablative aspect makes use of intense heat to vaporize skin cells (versus non ablative lasers which do not destroy skin cells), and the fractional aspect means the laser treatment is targeted to a specific treatment area. Ablative fractional laser skin resurfacing treatments stimulate new collagen production, tighten and tone underlying skin, and destroy old, damaged, or hyperpigmented skin cells.

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

  1. Fine Lines & Wrinkles: Collagen stimulation encourages skin tightening to smooth fine lines and wrinkles.
  2. Facial Skin Laxity: Increases in collagen production plump, tone, and tighten skin.
  3. Uneven Skin Tone: Abnormally pigmented cells are eliminated and healthier new cells are created for more consistent tone.
  4. Uneven Skin Texture: Removal of the top skin layer and dead skin cells can smooth skin texture and appearance.
  5. Acne Scars: Removal of dead skin cells and sebum, and collagen stimulation allow for acne scars to be smoothed and alleviated.

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

The ideal candidate for an ablative fractional laser skin resurfacing has sun damaged skin, fine lines/wrinkles, skin laxity (especially of the lower eyelids), changes in skin tone or texture, or some types of precancerous skin growths. Ablative fractional 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 fractional laser skin resurfacing procedure?

Most patients experience two to three weeks of downtime following an ablative fractional laser skin resurfacing. Red, raw skin, swelling, and itchiness are common following laser resurfacing treatments. Patients can expect skin redness or pinkness to persist for two to three months. Thick, hydrating ointments, good skin care, and limited sun exposure can lessen recovery time.

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

Potential side effects following an ablative fractional laser skin resurfacing include burns or skin damage from the laser heat, scarring, hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation of skin areas, reactivation of cold sores, bacterial skin infections, and milia (white bumps).

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

The results of an ablative fractional laser skin resurfacing will not be immediately noticeable following the treatment, but will develop over weeks to months as skin heals. Patients should take care to avoid excessive sun exposure and utilize sunscreen during this time period to mitigate the risk of irregular skin pigmentation. The skin appearance results of an ablative fractional laser skin resurfacing will be significant, but also subject to age related changes and sun damage as patients continue to age.

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

An ablative fractional laser skin resurfacing procedure can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $12,500. The actual cost of an ablative fractional laser skin resurfacing is dependent upon location, provider, and length and involvement of the cosmetic procedure.

Pros

smooths skintightens skinlasting resultsimprove skin qualityimprove skin textureeffectiveimproved recovery time

Cons

scarringpigmentation changesexacerbate skin disordersmore invasive

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.

What to Expect


Ablative fractional laser skin resurfacing utilizes laser energy to precisely remove layers of damaged skin. Here is a quick guide for what to expect before, during, and after fractional ablative skin resurfacing.

The Takeaway


An ablative fractional laser skin resurfacing procedure can provide noticeable enhancements to skin tone, skin texture, and facial appearance. By removing the outermost layer of skin cells and promoting new collagen production, ablative fractional lasers restore, refresh, and rejuvenate the skin.

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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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