Skin Resurfacing Treatments: Ablative Vs. Non-Ablative Lasers

What is the difference?

By Azra Shuib | May 12th, 2023

Laser skin resurfacing has helped dermatologists and aestheticians to improve various skin conditions such as wrinkles, age spots, acne scars and dullness. And since there are a lot of treatment options using advanced technology, it’s important to do your research to consider all the choices you have. Some skin conditions may require you to get repeated sessions, so choosing the right laser treatment to commit to can be beneficial in the long run.

Generally, there are two categories of lasers: ablative and non-ablative ones. Both attempt to function in similar ways and can give you desirable results as well as dramatic improvements, but they do differ significantly.


Ablative Lasers

Examples of ablative lasers are carbon dioxide (CO2) and erbium (Erb YAG). These lasers work by vaporizing the skin’s surface to trigger tissue repair and stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. With these lasers, results can last for 1 to 5 years, but they pose a longer recovery period of around 1 to 2 weeks, and present potential side effects like redness, swelling, infection and scarring. They are normally used to treat warts, wrinkles, acne scarring and deep skin flaws.


Non-ablative Lasers

ND: Yag, Alexandrite lasers and N-lite lasers are non-ablative lasers. Erbium Lasers can be ablative or non-ablative as well. This type of lasers generate light and heat below the skin to treat damaged skin cells without injuring the surrounding skin. Although being a less intense laser, it is capable of producing great results for diminishing fine lines, fading acne scars and treating dullness. And for a less invasive option, the downtime and risks for side effects are also lower. A trade-off for this type of lasers is that you may require repeated sessions. But once all the sessions are over, the results will be long lasting.


Which one is for me?

First thing first is, to always know your type of skin and acknowledge the issues you have to deal with your skin. As a general rule, you can opt for ablative ones if you have more significant skin issues - deep or pitted scars, more pronounced aging signs, and severe hyperpigmentation. The intense laser can damage the problematic pigment on your skin, giving you significant improvements in your skin tone and texture. You must also note that recovery time may take a few weeks and you should prepare for extra measures to take care of your skin.

If you don’t have very serious skin issues, you can go for non-ablative lasers, but it's always better to consult with your dermatologists to know which is right for you. Letting the experts assess your skin and determine the right treatment for you is the best way to treat it.

However, remember that with any laser treatments, your skin will be more sensitive to UV light. Take the necessary aftercare steps such as wearing an appropriate amount of sunscreen and reducing your skin exposure to sunlight. UV rays are a big factor in causing damage to skin which includes aging. In fact, it's capable of reversing any results you get from your facial treatments.

 If you’re looking for laser treatments done by professionals with extensive experience (which is an important requirement for all laser treatments!), check out our links below to book your desired procedure:

Ablative Laser Treatments

Non-Ablative Laser Treatments

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