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 Overview - Everything You Need to Know

The Skinny

Ablative Fractional Laser Skin Resurfacing
avg. recovery
18 days
Laser/Light Therapy
$2000 - $2500

About the Procedure

Last Updated: 07.27.2021

Laser skin resurfacing is a procedure used to treat fine and deep wrinkles, scarring, and skin lesions. It also can be utilized to treat loss of skin tone and to improve the general complexion of the skin. The lasers used in this procedure are ablative, meaning that they deliver heat directly to the skin, and fractional meaning in small, focused columns. This makes the lasers more intense than their non-ablative counterparts. The fractional nature of the procedure delivers the lasers on a concentrated treatment area as opposed to non-fractional lasers which administer heat across an entire section. The fractional approach results in a lessened recovery period and reduces procedure complications. The cost of fractional ablative skin resurfacing ranges from approximately $2,000-$2,500 depending on the area size and severity of skin treatment. Ablative lasers are used to encourage collagen regrowth while tightening the underlying skin, leading to a more youthful look. The treatment in effect eliminates older pigmented skin and therefore, stimulates collagen remodeling. The two most common types of resurfacing lasers are CO2 lasers and erbium lasers. CO2 lasers are used for the treatment of wrinkles, scars, warts and other conditions whereas erbium lasers are used to remove both superficial and deep lines and wrinkles on the face, hands, neck, and chest. The erbium laser bears fewer side effects than CO2 lasers. Specific ablative fractional lasers include types of 1600 nm fractional lasers such as Pixel CO2, SmartSkin, DEKA DOT, Ellumine, NaturaLase CO2, MIXEL, Fraxis, Ultrapulse Encore, AcuPulse MultiMode, Fraxel re:pair, CO2Re. Types of 2940 nm fractional lasers include Er:YAG lasers include Pixel 2940, 2940 DualMode, Icon 2940 fractional, Sciton ProFractional (xC), and Cutera Pearl Fractional. Depending on the laser used, a topical or local anesthetic may be applied to numb the skin. Some laser devices will have a cooling element built into the handpiece to reduce the discomfort felt by the patient. The laser will then be expertly applied to the treatment area, targeting uneven skin texture, irregular pigmentation, fine lines, and other skin imperfections. The provider will closely monitor the skin to ensure an effective but comfortable session. Once the skin has been thoroughly treated, a soothing serum or ointment will be applied and a bandage may be applied to the skin.

Laser skin resurfacing is used to reduce skin imperfections. Sun damage, fine lines or wrinkles, skin laxity, brown spots, blotchiness, scars and certain precancerous growths can be addressed with laser skin resurfacing.


Ablative Fractional Laser Skin Resurfacing addresses concerns such as:

Recovery Notes

Following an ablative fractional skin resurfacing treatment skin will feel raw and swollen. The treated area will have a thick ointment and protective dressing applied after the resurfacing session. Continual application of protective ointment will be needed to keep skin hydrated. After 1-2 weeks, new skin will have formed but will likely remain pink or red in tone for several months. To prevent irregular pigmentation always use a broad spectrum SPF to protect skin from sun exposure.

Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate for ablative fractional laser resurfacing has sun-damaged skin with wrinkling around the eyes and mouth as well as skin laxity in the lower eyelid area, has experienced irregular changes in skin color such as blotchiness or brown spots, has scars that have made the surface of the skin uneven, or has certain precancerous skin growths.

Not Recommended For

Ablative fractional laser resurfacing is not recommended for use on darker skin tones due to risk of hypopigmentation.

Side Effects

Side effects from ablative fractional skin resurfacing may include burns or other injuries from the laser's heat, scarring, changes in the skin's pigmentation (including areas of darker or lighter skin), reactivating herpes cold sores, bacterial infection, and milia may appear in the laser-treated areas during healing.


  • smooths skin
  • tightens skin
  • lasting results
  • improve skin quality
  • improve skin texture
  • effective
  • improved recovery time


  • scarring
  • pigmentation changes
  • exacerbate skin disorders
  • more invasive

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