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Laser Resurfacing: What You Need To Know About This Skin Rejuvenation Treatment

Medically reviewed by Martha Juco, MD · Aesthetics

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Aug 22, 2022

Laser Resurfacing: What You Need To Know About This Skin Rejuvenation Treatment

Nowadays, there are many ways to stave off the signs of aging. Besides a range of anti-aging products, you can also consider undergoing cosmetic procedures, such as Botox to improve the appearance of wrinkles or injectable fillers to increase the fullness of facial features. If you desire a facial rejuvenation treatment that might help increase collagen production and address issues, such as wrinkles, scars, sun-damaged skin, and uneven skin tone, you might want to consider laser resurfacing. 

The Types of Laser Resurfacing

As the name suggests this procedure uses laser beams to resurface the skin to bring about a smoother, tighter, and more youthful appearance. 

There are two main types of laser resurfacing: one uses an ablative (wounding) laser, and the other makes use of the nonablative kind:

  • Ablative laser wounds the outermost skin layer (epidermis) and heats the layer underneath (dermis) to stimulate collagen production. As the epidermis heals, the newer skin would be smoother and tighter. An example of ablative laser resurfacing uses a carbon dioxide or CO2 laser. 
  • The nonablative laser also promotes collagen production but is less invasive as it doesn’t wound the outer skin layer. However, reports say it’s also less effective than wounding laser resurfacing. An example of a nonablative laser uses intense pulsed light or IPL. 
  • How Do You Prepare For a Laser Resurfacing

    The first and most important thing to remember is you need to consult a doctor first before diving right into the procedure. Steer clear from anyone who tells you they can perform laser resurfacing right away without proper consultation. 

    You see, a doctor first needs to know things about you before they can clear you for the laser treatment. They have to know if you have any medical condition (like diabetes, history of herpes, etc), are smoking, or are taking medicines and supplements. Only after they give you the signal should you even consider laser resurfacing. 

    Here are some useful reminders:


    Before the treatment, the doctor might ask you to take medications, such as antivirals, especially if you’re having an ablative laser resurfacing. To reduce the possibility of side effects and complications, doctors also recommend:

    • Avoiding unprotected sunlight exposure
    • Quitting smoking at least 2 weeks before treatment
    • Stopping using any skincare products with drying or exfoliating agents (e.g. glycolic acid, retinol) 2 to 4 weeks before laser resurfacing. 

    Don’t forget to arrange a ride home because laser resurfacing typically uses anesthesia. 

    Also, set your expectations. The treatment may improve skin imperfections, but it cannot remove them completely. Case in point: scars are not eliminated, but their appearance may significantly improve. 

    Finally, know that a huge part of the success of treatment lies in the skills and expertise of the dermatologist. For this reason, only trust a board-certified doctor. 

    During the Procedure

    During laser resurfacing, the dermatologist would use intense laser beams to promote skin turnover and collagen growth. Hence, the doctor needs to cover your eyes for protection. 

    Depending on the type of laser and size of the area that needs treatment, the doctor may use local anesthesia or sedation. 

    For non-ablative laser resurfacing, the course of treatment may be divided into several appointments. 

    After the Procedure

    Ablative lasers often results in itchy, swollen, and raw skin. Your doctor will likely prescribe a skin care regimen to hasten the healing process and to decrease redness. They might also give you painkillers and ask you to use cool compresses. During this time, it’s best to avoid skincare products and activities that might irritate the skin, such as swimming.

    Nonablative laser surfacing needs less recovery time, and you typically can resume your normal activities right after. There might be some swelling and redness, but often, a cool compress would suffice as a treatment. 

    Since each person is different, you must listen to the dermatologist’s instructions for the aftercare of the treated skin. 

    Key Takeaways

    Laser resurfacing uses intense laser beams to promote collagen growth and help achieve newer, smoother, and tighter skin. However, this procedure is not for everyone. If you’re interested, please discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor first.   

    Learn more about Skin Care and Cleansing here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Martha Juco, MD


    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Aug 22, 2022

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