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The Ultimate Guide to Lasers and Resurfacing Facial Treatments

The Ultimate Guide to Lasers and Resurfacing Facial Treatments

Lasers and Resurfacing Facial Treatments

Find out how lasers resurface your complexion with targeted treatments like Fraxel, IPL, RF Protenza, Co2, etc. In addition, a summary of each kind, what they do, who they are for, who is not a good candidate, what technology is used, benefits, cost, and estimated downtime.

If you were to go back in time, even 100 hundred years, and tell others the future would have skin resurfacing treatments that involved laser light beams, can you imagine their amazement?

Skin care technology has greatly evolved in the past century, and continues to grow. The first use of a laser for skin-related concerns was in the 1960s by an American surgeon. Since then, advancements have been made to perfect the technology.

Nowadays, professionals frequently recommend laser treatments and other resurfacing facial treatments to treat various skin conditions, ranging from wirnkles and age spots to acne and melasma (hyperpigmentation caused by hormonal changes.)

Here’s a look at what lasers can do for your skin, the different types on the market, and other resurfacing facial treatments to consider!

What Do Lasers Do To the Skin?

Lasers are a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to skincare. You can not only use lasers to improve the appearance of your skin, but you can use lasers to:

  • Remove tattoos
  • Remove hair
  • Remove warts and moles
  • Reduce birthmarks, scars, rosacea, & broken blood vessels (spider veins)
  • Treat pre-cancerous areas
  • Minimize hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)

Lasers employ light and heat energy to temporarily signal the skin, so your body’s renewing response generates new skin. This results in the skin appearing younger, clearer, tighter, and healthier!

After a laser treatment, you will receive at-home care instructions to follow for days to come. The regenerating process can last anywhere from 5 to 21 days. This is contingent upon both the laser used and the purpose of your treatment.


Different types of lasers are used, but the two basics ones are ablative and non-ablative lasers. In layman’s terms, ablative lasers work by vaporizing the outer layers of the skin, one by one, while non-ablative lasers work by heating the skin while causing no harm.

Both laser treatments stimulate collagen production and benefit the skin. However, non-ablative lasers produce less visible results because they are less aggressive.

There are also fractionated and non-fractionated lasers. Fractionated lasers enhance the skin by treating small fractions of the skin, while non-fractionated lasers enhance the skin by treating the skin’s entire surface area.

Because non-fractionated laser treatments are more non-invasive than fractionated lasers, they require more recovery time. Moreover, to relive discomfort during the procedure, there is a possibility of receiving a sedative.

CO2 Laser

CO2, or carbon dioxide, laser resurfacing directs light beams to destroy the epidermis, or outermost layer of the skin, via vaporization. As the dermis, or middle layer of the skin, heats up, it stimulates collagen production.

In fact, professionals can accurately address specific areas with CO2 lasers; all without impacting other areas of the skin.

In fact, its wonderful for addressing wrinkles, especially around the eyes and mouth. A study revealed that using a C02 laser improved subject’s facial wrinkles by 45%!


Popularized by celebrities like Chelsea Handler, fractional laser resurfacing treatments work by splitting a laser light beam into several smaller beams to create micro-injuries in the skin.

These micro-injuries prompt the body’s natural healing response by telling your body to produce more collagen. Research shows that 80% of volunteer subjects who received fractional laser therapy saw decreased visible aging!

Fractional lasers work wonders on large pores. They strengthen the skin's barrier, and tighten up pores minimizing the look of large pores. In addition, they help reduce redness and improve the evenness of skin tone. This treatment is a must for anyone dealing with hormonal issues or hormone replacement therapy that can increase pore size.


Erbium, or Er: YAG, laser resurfacing is similar to CO2 laser resurfacing in that it obliterates the skin to encourage collagen production and healthy skin rejuvenation.

Said to have more precision than a CO2 laser, Erbium lasers can target the skin without harming neighboring skin cells. This precision allows them to treat smaller and more sensitive areas of the skin. 

Researchers have even tried combining C02 and Erbium laser technologies to generate a synergistic effect with minimal side effects!


IPL, or intense pulsed light, is a cosmetic treatment comparable to laser therapy, but different. Laser therapy creates an individual wavelength of light energy, whereas light therapy precisely delivers various wavelengths of light energy to the skin.

IPL can treat more of the skin’s surface in less time than laser therapy. With a handheld device, light warms skin cells and wears them down. The body is then triggered to naturally clean out the dull tissue, leading to healthier, more beautiful skin!

This treatment helps reduce redness, even skin tone, and fading sun spots. IPL turns sun spots into a thing of the past. What looks like coffee grounds after a treatment, will slough off after a week or so leaving a fresh, healthier-looking complexion.

No matter your laser treatment, the key is to do multiple treatments. One session does not cut it. Typically, a six-treatment series is suggested. It is a commitment of time and money, but in the end, the results will speak for themselves.


Chemical peels

You can receive gentle chemical peels on your lunch break. But for more extreme chemical peels, you’ll need up to two weeks of recovery time.

Both work by using skin-safe chemicals to remove layers of the skin to reveal healthier, new skin below.

Reliant upon your skincare goals, you can choose from a variety of peels. Types of chemical peels (in order from weakest to strongest) include alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) peels, beta hydroxy acid (BHA) peels, Jessner peels, trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peels, and phenol peels.


Dermabrasion is a resurfacing facial treatment that uses a revolving instrument to exfoliate the outer layers of the skin by “sanding” the skin. At the same time, microdermabrasion is the same technique, but less aggressive.

Dermabrasion may require anesthesia to reduce discomfort throughout the treatment. You can expect the recovery to last around two weeks. Conversely, microdermabrasion does not require anesthesia with little recovery time.

Microneedling is a semi-invasive skincare treatment using small needles to create tiny holes in the skin. This harm stimulates the skin’s natural healing response, and collagen and elastic production!

Professional micro needling treatments require a numbing cream to be applied to the skin beforehand. It is normal to experience light bleeding during the procedure. Afterward, you can expect your skin to be sensitive for up to 5 days.

There are at-home microneedling, or derma rolling, devices, but beware only to use a needle length under .5 millimeters. A professional should do any device with a greater needle length.

Would you ever try a laser treatment? What other resurfacing facial treatments would you consider?

Slay the day with amazing, healthy skin!


Written by Sara Katharine Creamer ~Licensed Esthetician