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Laser Skin Resurfacing
Laser Skin Resurfacing

Laser skin resurfacing Laser skin resurfacing, a relatively new procedure, has grown considerably. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were 466,238 laser skin resurfacing procedures performed in 2011, an increase of 9% since 2010.

As people grow older, signs of aging become more and more prominent, usually one’s face. Many can accept this aging appearance as a fact of life, while others wish to regain a more youthful appearance. Various cosmetic procedures help these people achieve their cosmetic goals. Cosmetic surgery procedures such as a facelift can help remove the more visible signs of aging. However, there are some people that desire a youthful appearance, but without incisions or losing a significant amount of time from their daily activities. One such minimally-invasive option is laser skin resurfacing. Laser skin resurfacing, also referred to as a “laser peel,” is a procedure designed to minimize fine lines and wrinkles. This is commonly performed around the mouth and the eyes. Patients who undergo laser skin resurfacing gain a fresher, smoother skin appearance.

With the increasing popularity of various cosmetic surgery procedures, it is important that the prospective patient research and understand different issues like what the procedure can and cannot treat, inherent risks, costs, and other factors. Keep in mind, cosmetic surgery is just that – a surgical procedure whose results cannot simply be erased. While the information contained in this website will provide you with a good introduction to laser skin resurfacing, when considering this or any other cosmetic procedure, we recommend that you consult a qualified provider with significant experience. Some important elements you should understand regarding laser skin resurfacing include the following:

What are my options?

Laser skin resurfacing is not the only minimally-invasive option for improving the appearance of the skin. The following are some of the more common alternatives:

Chemical Peel: A chemical peel can remove sun spots or age spots that appear most often on the face and hands. When chemicals are applied to the skin, they change the skin’s composition and remove the outer layers of skin. Chemical peels are used more for treating fine irregularities on the skin’s surface.

Microdermabrasion: Microdermabrasion is used more for superficial skin texture irregularities. This is a slightly more aggressive procedure than chemical peels, which involves sanding off the first layer of skin with tiny crystals.

How is Laser Skin Resurfacing different?

"Laser skin resurfacing produces

less bleeding, bruising and post-operative
discomfort than is typically seen with other resurfacing methods."

Laser skin resurfacing can deal with more significant skin problems like deep wrinkles, crow’s feet, and scarring from moderate to severe acne. With this procedure, CO2, ultrapulse lasers cut away at the skin layer by layer, while still keeping the blood vessels sealed. This surgical method produces less bleeding, bruising and post-operative discomfort than is typically seen with other resurfacing methods.

To learn more about which of these minimally-invasive procedures would work best for you, please consult with your cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist.

Who would best Represent an Ideal Candidate for Laser Skin Resurfacing?

People looking to enhance their appearance in a quick, virtually painless fashion would represent an ideal candidate for laser skin resurfacing. Even though reasons vary from person to person, the more common include:
  • Enhancing appearance and boosting self-confidence
  • Becoming less self-conscious about appearance
  • Achieving smoother looking skin
  • Regaining a more youthful look
However, the prospective patient must also be aware that cosmetic surgery is designed for improvement, not perfection. Patients should have realistic goals and expectations for their laser skin resurfacing. Be sure to discuss your reasons for wanting to undergo this operation with the doctor during your consultation visit. This will also help determine your candidacy for the procedure.

Where do I begin?

"Consultation visits give patients

the opportunity to address their reasons for
wanting surgery and to ask any questions they might have."

Those considering laser skin resurfacing should first find a qualified cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist to perform the procedure. has created an easy and effective way for patients to find a cosmetic surgeon online. For more information, use our
physician locator.

After deciding upon a specific doctor, it is important to meet with that specialist for a consultation visit. During consultations, doctors can learn more about the patients and vice versa. This visit gives the doctor a chance to evaluate the current state of the patient’s skin and discuss options that will help the patient achieve a desired look. Consultation visits also give patients the opportunity to address their reasons for wanting surgery and to ask any questions they might have. These visits also allow the doctors to inform the patient of the benefits, precautions, treatment response, adverse reactions, method of administration and other important information.

How is Laser Skin Resurfacing Performed?

Patients undergo the laser skin resurfacing procedure either at a hospital, an outpatient surgery center or at a doctor’s office-based facility. This procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis and the patients can go home on the same day.

The procedure itself can take anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour, depending on how much area is to be treated. Laser skin resurfacing works through a beam of laser energy vaporizing the upper layers of damaged skin at specific and controlled levels of penetration and removing it in layers. The doctor carefully passes the laser back and forth over the skin until reaching a layer where the wrinkles or scars are less visible. As a result, new skin will replace the old, and the appearance of wrinkles and scarring are reduced considerably.

After completing the procedure, the doctor may apply protective creams or ointments to aid in healing.

How Much Pain is Associated with Laser Skin Resurfacing?

Laser skin resurfacing is usually performed under local anesthesia allowing the patient to be awake but relaxed during the procedure. For more extensive cases, the operation can be performed under general anesthesia so that the patient will sleep through the operation. Following the procedure, the patient may experience some mild swelling and discomfort. This can be lessened applying ice packs and taking prescribed medication.

What should I expect after undergoing Laser Skin Resurfacing?

"Expect one week

of downtime while recuperating."

Expect one week of downtime while recuperating. The skin’s complexion will remain bright pink to red in the weeks following surgery. Medications may be prescribed to make the redness subside, or it could subside on its own within a week. However, some of the pink complexion may remain for months. Expect to apply camouflage makeup while the pinkness fades. To ensure proper healing and to reduce the possibility of complications, patients must follow their doctor’s post-op instructions. One typical instruction is not picking the crusts off the treated area. This may result in scarring. The crusts should be gone within 10 days after treatment.

What Are the Risks and Limitations of Laser Skin Resurfacing?

All cosmetic procedures share some degree of risk. While the risks involved with laser skin resurfacing are minimal, patients must be made aware the risks include burns (due to the heat the laser produces), scarring, and changes in pigmentation. Rarely will laser skin resurfacing cause any types of infection.

What Are The Typical Costs Associated With Laser Skin Resurfacing?

"The national average cost for

laser skin resurfacing is $2,378." -ASPS

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the national average cost for laser skin resurfacing is $2,378. Fees within various regions may vary depending on whether the doctor’s practice is in an urban, suburban or rural area. This fee only covers the physician’s costs, and does not include other miscellaneous costs. Plus, this fee is only for one treatment session and multiple sessions may be needed for optimal results. A comprehensive cost figure may be obtained while consulting with the physician. Make sure this figure includes any and all associated costs.

Unfortunately, most medical insurance providers do not cover cosmetic surgery procedures. However, most surgeons do offer multiple financing options. On rare occasions, the procedure can be performed to modify scars or remove pre-cancerous growths on the skin. These conditions could then meet criteria allowing insurance companies to cover the procedure. Check with your cosmetic surgeon and insurance provider for more information.


Ten Questions Patients Undergoing Laser Skin Resurfacing Should Ask Their Surgeon

To better educate the patient about laser skin resurfacing, as well as assisting in formulating realistic expectations, it is recommended that the patient look at before and after photographs, speak with previous patients, (you are always welcome to ask your doctor for referrals to previous patients and where to contact them) and get answers to the following questions:
  1. Where is the laser skin resurfacing performed and how long will it take?
  2. In my case, is laser skin resurfacing the best option for achieving the look I want?
  3. What kind of anesthesia will the surgeon use during the surgery?
  4. How much does laser skin resurfacing cost and what other elements factor into that cost (i.e., hospital fee, anesthesia, etc)?
  5. What should I expect, post-operatively, in terms of soreness, scaring, approximate recovery time and so on?
  6. What is the surgeon’s level of experience in performing laser skin resurfacing?
  7. Does the surgeon have privileges to perform laser skin resurfacing with a CO2 laser at an accredited hospital?
  8. What percentage of patients experience complications with the laser skin resurfacing?
  9. What is the surgeon’s policy in regards to correcting or repeating the procedure if the laser skin resurfacing does not meet agreed upon goals?
  10. Have you ever had your malpractice insurance coverage denied, revoked or suspended?
In addition, it is important that patients undergoing laser skin resurfacing relay to their surgeon information regarding any allergies and serious medical conditions they may have. Furthermore, patients should inform the surgeon of any medications they are taking.

This site provides information about plastic/cosmetic surgery and is designed to help users make decisions regarding their own treatment options. But medical information is not the same as medical advice--the application of medical treatment to a person's specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a qualified medical practitioner if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.

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