Ablative & Non-Ablative Laser Treatment

For different reasons, whether age, scares, or sun damage, our skin’s appearance can change, and not always in the way we would like. When this happens, many people turn to cosmetic laser surgery to ‘fix’ or mitigate the issue.

Doctors have several treatment options for cosmetic laser procedures. Among them are ablative laser and non-ablative laser treatments.

Ablative Laser Treatment

Ablative lasers use intense light wavelengths to remove a thin layer of outer skin from the patient. Typically, CO2 lasers or erbium yag lasers are used to perform these procedures. This treatment causes the skin to regenerate, added a new, tighter layer. Thus, the skin is being “resurfaced” with ablative treatments.

Common applications for ablative laser treatments are:
Skin damage / uneven skin tone
Age spots (liver spots)
Acne scars
Sun damaged skin

The outer layer of skin is removed and a new layer is generated, collagen under the skin also reacts. This helps tighten the appearance and reduce wrinkles or acne scars. The new skin will also be more uniform in appearance, making skin tones and scaring less prominent.

Depending on the application, technicians may use 100% ablative, or semi-ablative laser techniques. Semi-ablative is more targeted and better for scars or wrinkles. This technique allows for faster healing and less discomfort for the patient.

Ablative procedures are not painless. Typically, there are topical creams to help with the healing, make a patient more comfortable, and reduce the risk of infections. Some laser manufacturers have developed technology to simultaneously reduce the skin temperature as it treats the areas with the laser light. This assists in patient comfort during the procedures and may reduce discomfort after the procedures.

Nonablative Laser Treatment

Non-ablative laser treatment doesn’t resurface skin, though it does heat the skin. By heating it without damaging the skin, the non-ablative treatment stimulates collagen production, filing skin imperfections such as fine lines or wrinkles. These types of treatments are not as invasive and therefore won’t have the same impact as ablative. They may also require multiple treatments.

The following are the common treatments for nonablative treatments:

Skin color changes
Mild redness or swelling
Blisters or scars

When providing cosmetic laser services, doctors have options that they can offer patients that span speed and comfort levels.