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Non-Ablative Laser Skin Resurfacing

Non-ablative laser skin resurfacing preserves the skin's outer layer, which results in faster healing but with less dramatic improvements.

Non-Ablative Laser Skin Resurfacing

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The Skinny


Average Recovery

3 days

Permanence

Temporary

Application

Laser/Light Therapy

Surgical

No

Cost

$1031 - $1144

The Specifics


What is non-ablative laser skin resurfacing?

Non-ablative laser skin resurfacing preserves the skin's outer layer. The layer that is being ablated or not is the epidermis - the outer covering of the skin. With ablative laser skin resurfacing, the entire outer epidermis is removed. In non-ablative techniques, it is mostly preserved, which results in faster healing but with less dramatic improvements. As such, non-ablative laser skin resurfacing procedure is the least aggressive form of laser resurfacing.

In non-ablative resurfacing, the endpoint is coagulation of the tissue, whereas in ablative resurfacing the endpoint is vaporization of the tissue. Either can be performed in a fractional technique, which delivers energy to the dermis to stimulate collagen remodeling through many narrow columns called microthermal treatment zones (MTZs).

The energy deposited in the dermis then acts to tighten skin and stimulate collagen remodeling beneath a mostly intact epidermal layer. Remember that this energy is less than a full ablative technique and, therefore, multiple treatments are likely to be required.

What cosmetic concerns does a non-ablative laser skin resurfacing procedure treat?

  1. Fine Lines & Wrinkles: Collagen production smooths fine lines and wrinkles for improved skin aesthetic.
  2. Facial Skin Laxity: Collagen stimulation improves facial tone and firmness.
  3. Uneven Skin Tone: Abnormally pigmented cells are destroyed and more uniformly pigmented skin layers are exposed.
  4. Uneven Skin Texture: Dead skin cells and sebum build ups are eliminated to create smoother texture.
  5. Rosacea: Top skin cell layers affected by rosacea are removed, and new healthy layers are exposed.
  6. Melasma: Hyperpigmented areas are eliminated, and new consistently pigmented cells are exposed.
  7. Acne Scars: Scar tissue is removed, and new healthy skin is able to grow in its place.
  8. Mommy Makeover: Laser energy can help to remove targeted areas of hyperpigmentation or scarring following pregnancy.

Who is the ideal candidate for a non-ablative laser skin resurfacing procedure?

The ideal candidate for non-ablative laser skin resurfacing tends to be someone who is younger in age and wishes to improve the tone and texture of their skin due to early signs of photo-aging. Candidates wish for minimal to no recovery time but are willing to receive multiple treatments.

Non-ablative laser skin resurfacing is not recommended for candidates who want to treat more severe skin imperfections, such as deep scarring or severe wrinkling, in a shorter time period with more dramatic results.

What is the average recovery associated with a non-ablative laser skin resurfacing procedure?

Most patients experience a few days of downtime following a non-ablative laser skin resurfacing. Red and raw skin with mild swelling, and itchiness usually occurs following laser resurfacing treatments. Thick, hydrating ointments, good skin care, and limited sun exposure can help speed recovery time. Makeup can be worn after two days.

What are the potential side effects of a non-ablative laser skin resurfacing procedure?

Side effects from non-ablative laser 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.

What can someone expect from the results of a non-ablative laser skin resurfacing procedure?

The results of a non-ablative laser skin resurfacing will develop gradually over a series of laser resurfacing treatments. Patients should take care to avoid excessive sun exposure and utilize sunscreen during to mitigate the risk of irregular skin pigmentation. The results will be subject to age related changes and sun damage as time progresses.

What is the average cost of a non-ablative laser skin resurfacing procedure?

A non-ablative laser skin resurfacing procedure can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500. The actual cost of a non-ablative laser skin resurfacing is dependent upon location, provider, and length and involvement of the cosmetic procedure.

Pros

minimal painminimal treatment timesafe for most skin typesless risk of complicationsincreased precision and accuracy compared to superficial chemical peels

Cons

multiple treatmentsnot as dramatic results

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


A non-ablative laser skin resurfacing procedure provides noticeable enhancements to skin tone, skin texture, and facial appearance. By promoting new collagen and tightening skin, non-ablative lasers restore, refresh, and rejuvenate skin aesthetic.

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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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