Overview

Laser resurfacing is a skin resurfacing procedure that uses a laser to improve the appearance of your skin or treat minor facial flaws by removing layers of skin. Laser resurfacing can be done with:

  • Ablative laser. This is a wounding laser, which removes thin layers of skin. Types of ablative treatments include the carbon dioxide (CO2) laser and the erbium laser.
  • Nonablative laser. This is a nonwounding laser, which stimulates collagen growth and tightens underlying skin. This includes many types of lasers as well as intense pulsed light (IPL) devices.

Another type of laser resurfacing, fractional photothermolysis (Fraxel), is available in ablative and nonablative forms.

Although nonablative laser resurfacing is less invasive and requires less recovery time, it's less effective than is ablative laser resurfacing.

Laser resurfacing can decrease the appearance of facial fine lines. Laser resurfacing can also treat loss of skin tone and improve your complexion if you have scars or sun damage. Laser resurfacing does have limitations, however. Understanding the specific techniques, risks and possible results can help you decide if laser resurfacing is right for you.

Mayo Clinic's approach