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 lasers the entire outer epidermis is removed, whereas in non-ablative techniques it is mostly preserved which results in faster healing but with less dramatic improvements.

Non-Ablative Laser Skin Resurfacing Overview - Everything You Need to Know

The Skinny

Non-Ablative Laser Skin Resurfacing
avg. recovery
3 days
Laser/Light Therapy
$1031 - $1144

About the Procedure

Last Updated: 07.28.2021

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 epidermis at these sites is coagulated and destroyed, but the areas between these MTZs remains intact, leading to much faster healing. Each MTZ is one-tenth the size of a hair follicle. 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.

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.

Recovery Notes

Typically none, most patients return to work immediately. Minimal erythema will likely be present, but can be covered by makeup.

Ideal Candidate

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

Not Recommended For

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

Side Effects

Side effects from non-ablative 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.


  • minimal pain
  • minimal treatment time
  • safe for most skin types
  • less risk of complications
  • increased precision and accuracy compared to superficial chemical peels


  • multiple treatments
  • not as dramatic results

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