Ablative Laser Resurfacing Cost: What You Need to Know

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the Basics: Ablative laser resurfacing is a cosmetic procedure aimed at improving skin texture and appearance by removing outer layers of skin, often performed by plastic surgeons to enhance the surface and expedite the healing process.
  • Cost Differences: Ablative laser treatments are generally more expensive than non-ablative options due to their intensity, effectiveness, and skin tightening benefits, often performed by plastic surgeons.
  • Price Influencers: Costs vary based on factors like the type of laser used, the extent of the area treated, the skin tone, and the geographic location of the clinic.
  • Laser Types Matter: Different types of ablative lasers, such as CO2 and Erbium, offer varied benefits and price points for skin conditions treated by a surgeon on the face.
  • Plan Financially: Explore financing options or payment plans to manage the cost of your treatment effectively and face the risk of skin conditions treated with laser energy.
  • Choose Wisely: Select a qualified dermatologist with experience in laser resurfacing to ensure safety, minimize risk, and achieve optimal results.

Understanding Laser Resurfacing

Laser Skin Resurfacing

Laser skin resurfacing is a cosmetic procedure. It aims to improve the appearance of the skin. This treatment uses laser energy to remove layers of skin, posing some risk. The goal is to reduce wrinkles, scars, and blemishes. Laser resurfacing can make the skin look smoother and younger, but there is a risk.

Ablative vs Non-Ablative

There are two main types of laser treatments: ablative and non-ablative. Ablative laser skin resurfacing removes the top layer of the skin. This type of ablative laser skin resurfacing is more intense, utilizing laser energy, and has a longer recovery time. It is effective for deep wrinkles and severe sun damage using laser skin resurfacing and laser energy.

Non-ablative lasers do not remove the top layer of the skin. They work by heating up the underlying tissue. This stimulates collagen production and tightens the skin. Non-ablative treatments, like laser skin resurfacing, have shorter recovery times but may need multiple sessions using laser energy.

Purpose and Outcomes

Ablative laser treatments are used for significant skin issues. These include deep wrinkles, scars, and uneven texture. The results are often dramatic but require more downtime.

Non-ablative lasers are suitable for mild to moderate skin concerns. These include fine lines, minor scars, and slight discoloration. The results of laser skin resurfacing are less immediate but still noticeable over time.

Insurance Coverage

Laser resurfacing is considered a cosmetic procedure. It aims to enhance appearance rather than treat medical conditions. Because of this, it is not covered by medical insurance.

Patients should be prepared to pay out-of-pocket costs for these treatments. Costs can vary based on several factors:

  • Type of laser used
  • Number of sessions required
  • Geographic location
  • Expertise of the practitioner

Ablative vs Non-Ablative Costs

Average Cost

Non-ablative laser treatments cost around $1,031 per session. Ablative laser treatments are more expensive, averaging $2,330 per session. The price difference is significant.

Ablative lasers remove layers of skin. Non-ablative lasers target deeper skin layers without removing the surface. This difference impacts the cost.

Treatment Intensity

Ablative procedures are more intense. They offer deeper skin resurfacing. This requires specialized equipment and skilled practitioners. These factors increase costs.

Non-ablative lasers are less invasive. They involve shorter recovery times and fewer risks. These treatments are usually cheaper due to their lower intensity.

Depth of Treatment

Ablative lasers penetrate deeply into the skin. They treat severe wrinkles, scars, and sun damage effectively. This depth of treatment justifies the higher cost per session.

Non-ablative treatments focus on superficial issues like fine lines and minor pigmentation problems. Their shallower penetration results in lower costs.

Long-Term Effectiveness

Despite higher initial costs, ablative treatments can be more cost-effective long-term. They often require fewer sessions for desired results.

Patients may need multiple non-ablative sessions to achieve similar outcomes as one ablative session. Over time, this can add up in terms of both money and time.

Factors Affecting Prices

Number of Sessions

The number of sessions needed influences the overall cost. Some people may need multiple treatments to achieve their desired results. Each session adds to the total price. For example, treating deep wrinkles or scars often requires more sessions. This is because these issues are harder to fix with just one treatment.

Treatment Area Size

The size of the treatment area impacts the price significantly. Larger areas require more resources and time. Treating a small area like the upper lip might take only 15 minutes. However, treating the entire face could take over an hour. More time means higher costs due to increased labor and equipment use.

Dermatologist’s Experience

A dermatologist’s experience and reputation also affect charges per session. Experienced dermatologists often charge more for their services. They have specialized skills and knowledge that can lead to better results. Patients may pay a premium for this expertise.

Skin Condition

The condition of your skin plays a role in determining costs too. Severe skin issues like deep acne scars or extensive sun damage need more intensive treatment. This increases both the number of sessions and the complexity of each session, leading to higher prices.

Geographic Location

Where you live can also influence ablative laser resurfacing costs. Urban areas with high living expenses usually have higher treatment prices. Clinics in cities like New York or Los Angeles tend to charge more than those in smaller towns or rural areas.

Technology Used

Different types of lasers can affect costs as well. Advanced laser technologies often come with higher price tags but offer better results and shorter recovery times. Clinics using cutting-edge equipment may charge more due to the high cost of maintaining such devices.

Post-Treatment Care

Aftercare is another factor that can add to the overall cost. Proper post-treatment care is essential for good results and quick recovery. This includes special creams, follow-up visits, and sometimes additional minor procedures.

Types of Ablative Lasers

CO2 Laser

CO2 lasers are one of the most common types of ablative lasers. They use carbon dioxide to remove layers of skin. This type is effective for deep wrinkles, scars, and warts. The CO2 laser works by vaporizing the top layer of skin, which stimulates collagen production. Recovery time can be longer compared to other methods.

Erbium Laser

Erbium lasers offer a different approach. They target water in the skin cells, making them ideal for fine lines and moderate wrinkles. The Erbium laser removes less skin than CO2 lasers, resulting in shorter recovery times. It is also suitable for patients with darker skin tones.

Technological Advancements

Technological advancements have improved ablative laser treatments significantly. Modern devices offer greater precision and control. These improvements help reduce side effects like redness and swelling. Newer models also come with cooling systems to enhance patient comfort.

Precision and Recovery Time

Enhanced precision means that doctors can target specific areas more effectively. This reduces damage to surrounding tissues. As a result, recovery times are shorter now than they were in the past. Patients can return to their daily activities sooner.

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Ablative Laser Resurfacing Cost: What You Need to Know 2

Skin Issues Treated

Different ablative lasers cater to various skin issues:

  • CO2 lasers are best for deeper scars and severe sun damage.
  • Erbium lasers work well on fine lines and moderate wrinkles.
  • Some newer lasers can treat both types of issues but may vary in cost.

Cost Implications

The choice of laser affects the cost of treatment. CO2 laser treatments tend to be more expensive due to their extensive capabilities and longer recovery periods. Erbium laser treatments might be less costly but still effective for many conditions.

Procedure Steps Overview


The first step is a consultation. During this visit, the doctor assesses your skin. They identify issues and determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. This assessment helps tailor the treatment to your needs.

Pre-Treatment Preparation

Before the treatment, patients must prepare their skin. Doctors often recommend avoiding sun exposure for several weeks. They might also prescribe topical creams to improve skin condition.

The Procedure

On the day of the procedure, patients arrive at the office. The doctor starts by cleaning the skin thoroughly. A numbing cream or local anesthesia is applied to minimize discomfort.

Using a laser device, the doctor targets specific areas of the skin. The laser removes the outer layer of damaged skin cells. It can penetrate multiple layers depending on the severity of the issue.

Most treatments are done in one session but sometimes require multiple sessions for best results.

Post-Treatment Care

After the procedure, proper care is crucial for healing. Patients should keep the treated area clean and moisturized. Avoiding direct sunlight is essential to prevent complications.

Doctors usually provide detailed instructions on how to care for your skin post-treatment. These guidelines help ensure optimal healing and long-lasting results.

Financing Your Treatment

Financing Options

Many clinics offer financing options for ablative laser resurfacing. These plans help patients manage the cost over time. One option is to work with third-party financing companies like CareCredit or Alphaeon Credit. They allow patients to pay in monthly installments.

e clinics also provide in-house payment plans. Patients can discuss these options during the initial consultation. It’s important to understand all terms and conditions before agreeing to any plan.

Health Insurance

Most health insurance does not cover cosmetic surgery, including ablative laser resurfacing. This is because it is usually considered elective. However, there are exceptions if the procedure addresses a medical issue.

Patients should contact their insurance company to verify coverage details. It may also be helpful to get a letter from the dermatologist explaining the medical necessity of the treatment.

Package Deals

When multiple sessions are required, some clinics offer package deals. These deals can provide significant cost savings for patients who need extensive work done over time.

For example, a clinic might offer three sessions at a reduced rate compared to paying for each session individually. Patients should ask about these deals during their consultation.

Discounts and Promotions

Consulting with the dermatology office about potential discounts can also reduce costs. Some offices provide discounts for upfront payments or seasonal promotions.

For instance, clinics might offer lower rates during less busy months of the year. Patients should inquire about any upcoming promotions or special offers when scheduling their consultation.

Side Effects and Recovery

Common Side Effects

Ablative laser resurfacing can cause several side effects. Redness is one of the most common. It may last for a few weeks or even months. Swelling often occurs immediately after the procedure. Peeling of the skin is typical as new skin forms. Some people experience itching or discomfort.

Recovery Time

Recovery time varies from person to person. It depends on the intensity of the treatment and individual healing rates. Generally, initial recovery takes about 1-2 weeks. Full healing can take several months. During this time, new collagen production continues beneath the skin.

Minimizing Side Effects

To minimize side effects, follow these tips:

  • Avoid sun exposure.
  • Use recommended skincare products.
  • Keep the treated area clean.
  • Apply moisturizer regularly.
  • Avoid touching your face unnecessarily.

These steps help reduce redness and swelling, promoting faster healing.

Managing Concerns

Concerns about infection are valid but rare if proper care is taken. Keep an eye out for unusual symptoms like excessive redness or pus. Contact your doctor if you notice these signs.

Individual Results

Individual results vary based on skin type and treatment depth. Some may see improvements sooner than others. Patience is key during this process.

Choosing Your Dermatologist

Board-Certified Experts

Selecting a board-certified dermatologist is crucial. They have specialized training in skin conditions and treatments. This ensures safety and effectiveness during ablative laser resurfacing. Board certification indicates that the doctor has passed rigorous exams.

Experience Matters

Experience in laser treatments is key. Dermatologists or plastic surgeons with years of practice know how to handle different skin types. They can address specific concerns like acne scars or hyperpigmentation. Look for specialists who frequently perform this cosmetic procedure.

Reviews and Photos

Researching reviews helps find reputable doctors. Patient testimonials provide insights into their experiences. Check before-and-after photos of previous patients. These images show potential results and help set realistic expectations.

Consultation Importance

Schedule consultations with potential dermatologists. Discuss your skin concerns, such as sun damage or uneven skin texture. Ask about the costs involved and any additional fees. Use this meeting to gauge your comfort level with the doctor.

Understanding Costs

During consultations, clarify the cost structure. Ablative laser resurfacing can be expensive, so understanding all charges is essential. Ask if follow-up visits are included in the initial fee.

Safety and Comfort

Ensure that you feel safe and comfortable with your chosen dermatologist or plastic surgeon. The right professional should answer all your questions clearly. They should explain the procedure, recovery time, and possible side effects thoroughly.


Navigating the costs of ablative laser resurfacing can be daunting, but understanding the different factors and options makes it easier. From comparing ablative and non-ablative treatments to knowing what affects prices, you’re now equipped to make an informed decision.

Ready to take the next step? Consult a trusted dermatologist to discuss your needs and budget. Investing in your skin’s health is worth it. Take action today for a brighter tomorrow.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost of ablative laser resurfacing?

The cost ranges from $1,000 to $5,000 per session. Prices vary based on location, provider experience, and specific laser type.

How does ablative laser resurfacing differ from non-ablative treatments in terms of cost?

Ablative treatments are generally more expensive than non-ablative ones. Ablative lasers penetrate deeper, offering more dramatic results but at a higher price.

What factors influence the price of ablative laser resurfacing?

Factors include the type of laser used, provider expertise, geographic location, and the extent of the area being treated.

Are there different types of ablative lasers?

Yes, common types include CO2 and Erbium lasers. Each has unique benefits and costs associated with them.

Can I finance my ablative laser resurfacing treatment?

Yes, many clinics offer financing options. Payment plans can make this treatment more accessible.

What are the side effects of ablative laser resurfacing?

Side effects may include redness, swelling, and peeling. These usually subside within a few weeks.

How do I choose the right dermatologist for my procedure?

Look for board-certified dermatologists with extensive experience in laser treatments. Check reviews and ask for before-and-after photos.