Non-ablative Laser Resurfacing: Benefits, Side Effects, and More

Non-ablative laser resurfacing is a medical procedure performed with the purpose of reducing the appearance of fine-lines and wrinkles. It is a non-invasive treatment that is a popular choice among many for gaining healthier, more youthful skin. With a quick recovery-time and minimal discomfort, it’s easy to see why so many people are opting for this procedure.

Below you will find all the information you need to know about non ablative laser resurfacing: who should use it, what the pros and cons are, what you should expect, and what it can do you for you.

How Does Non Ablative Laser Resurfacing Work?

Non-ablative laser resurfacing “stimulates collagen growth in the skin resulting in a healthy glow and smoother texture“. The special procedure uses laser energy to reach underneath the skin’s surface to stimulate your body’s natural ability to produce collagen. Collagen is an extremely important element within your body that aides in the look and elasticity of your skin.

Skin resurfacing procedures are referred to as either ablative or non-ablative. Ablative procedures work by removing thin layers of skin in a more dramatic approach. Non-ablative procedures keep the skin entirely intact and work by tightening from underneath the skin instead. It is an ideal treatment for those looking for a mild approach to improving skin. There is no risk of skin infections and little-to-no recovery-time.

The type of resurfacing agent could vary. Some non-ablative instruments may produce laser-energy or intense pulsed light (IPL). There is also a fractional photothermolysis-option, which can target more specific areas. These types of resurfacing are usually done on the face, chin, or neck, and can treat a variety of cosmetic concerns. It can be costly however, with an average cost of between $1,000-$3,000, and it is not typically covered by most insurances.

Non-ablative laser resurfacing before and after
Before and After Non-ablative Laser Resurfacing (source: Aesthetics Center of Louisville)

Benefits of Non Ablative Laser Resurfacing

There are many reasons why this procedure might be right for you. Some benefits of the treatment can be found below.

  • This type of laser resurfacing can treat a range of aging issues, including wrinkles, age spots, blemishes, and acne scars. It can also balance your skin’s tone and tighten it.
  • The recovery-time of this procedure is extremely minimal. Most patients can return to their normal activities almost immediately following a session.
  • The results may not last forever, but the effects can last for years.
  • The pain or discomfort associated with this procedure is considered minimal. Your doctor can apply topical anesthetics or administer pain medication to help.
  • Depending on the areas which are receiving the treatment, a patient could be done within 20-30 minutes.
  • Typical side effects are minimal and include redness, swelling, and tenderness.

Disadvantages of Non Ablative Laser Resurfacing

As with all medical procedures, there are drawbacks and possible complications associated with receiving the treatment. The following should be considered before a decision is made:

  • This procedure, because it is non-ablative, does not show immediate results. You will require more than 1 session and it may take a few months to notice a difference.
  • Results do not last forever and it is not a permanent solution.
  • There are severe, but rare side effects that include scarring, infections, and changes in skin color.
  • It is not advisable for all types of people and all skin types.

Who Benefits from Using Non Ablative Laser Resurfacing?

Non Ablative Laser Resurfacing
Before and After Non Ablative Laser Resurfacing (source: Manhattan Dermatology)

While most people can enjoy the benefits of non-ablative laser resurfacing, there are some who are better-suited than others. It is most-effective on lighter-toned people, for example. Your doctor may recommend against this treatment if you have infections (or are prone to infections), have active acne, have a weakened immune system or autoimmune disease, or have very dark skin. You should also talk to your doctor about your medical history including medications, because certain medicines can affect how the skin reacts and heals.

When Should We Get Non Ablative Laser Resurfacing?

Oddly enough, there are things you can do to help ensure the procedure makes a difference. For example, it is recommended to receive the procedure during the fall or winter months, so your time spent in the sun is shorter. This allows your skin to not only heal properly from the procedure, but also stay away from harmful rays. It is also important to receive your treatment from a licensed, reputable professional; to fight against the possibilities of harmful side effects.

Prolonging the Effects of Non Ablative Laser Resurfacing

Regardless of when you have the procedure done, you should always wear a sunscreen that has broad-spectrum SPF 30 or above. This protects the effects of the procedure but also the general health of your skin from skin cancer and the effects of aging. Keeping your skin well-moisturized is another way to naturally fight the signs of aging.

It is possible that you could require multiple sessions, but it may also be advised that you come back for “touch-up” sessions every once in a while, to keep your collagen rejuvenating. Other things you can do to prolong the health of your skin including quitting smoking and relieving stress.

Precautions to Remember Before Trying Non Ablative Laser Resurfacing

While this treatment is non-invasive and is considered minimally painful, it is important to understand that the pain is different for everyone. The level of pain will be determined by the type of laser, depth and area of the treatment, and your own tolerance for pain.

Non-ablative laser resurfacing allows you to get right back to your normal activities, but you will experience skin side effects for days, weeks, or even months. Many patients experience redness, swelling, and peeling for weeks after.

The Bottom Line

Non-ablative laser resurfacing is an excellent choice for people looking to reduce the appearance of aging without the use of an invasive surgeries or injections. It requires little of your time, causes minimal discomfort, gets you back to your life in no-time, and can change the nature of your skin to make it appear younger and healthier.

Before considering this cosmetic procedure, be sure to consult your doctor. For the right candidate, non-ablative laser resurfacing can you the confidence and glow you’ve been waiting for.

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