• 2016-4-960

    What is a dermatologic surgeon?

    Part of a progressive medical subspecialty, ASDS member dermatologists perform medically necessary and cosmetic procedures to improve the health, function and beauty of skin through every stage of life.

  • 2016-3-960

    From forehead furrows to frown lines…

    Performing more than 5 million cosmetic procedures each year, ASDS member dermatologists offer many treatments that are less intense, safer and have quicker recovery times than ever before.

  • 2016-2-960

    3 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every year

    Any suspicious new growths or changes should be examined by a dermatologist immediately. ASDS member dermatologists are trained to select the best treatment choice based on the individual patient.

  • 2016-1-960

    From excess fat to wrinkles…

    Offering a range of office-based cosmetic procedures, ASDS member dermatologists can select the appropriate treatment choice to meet your individual goals.

+ / -
Article to be sent via email:

To email(s):
(use commas to separate multiple addresses)
  (use commas to separate multiple addresses)
Your name:
Your email address:
Add a Message:

In This Section

Laser Resurfacing for Scars


Treatment Options


Learn more about treatment options for scars


Laser resurfacing uses a laser to send out brief pulses of high-energy light that are absorbed by water and substances in the skin. The heat energy from the laser vaporizes thin sections of skin, layer by layer. New, fresher skin grows over the treated area resulting in an improved appearance. The procedure also heats the layers underneath to promote collagen production, which stimulates skin in the treatment area to heal in a smoother, more even appearance.

child burn scars on chest - nonablative fractionated laser, ablative fractionated CO2 laser, and broad band light treatments_BandA 
 Before and after nonablative fractionated laser, ablative fractionated CO2 laser and broad band light treatments to burn scars on the chest.

Photo courtesy of Jill S. Waibel, MD -Miami, Florida 

Why choose laser resurfacing for scars

Laser resurfacing is most effective for treating superficial scars caused by acne, surgery or trauma that are not growing or getting thicker.

What you should know about laser resurfacing for scars

The scar is cleaned and marked with a pen. Often a local or topical anesthetic is used to numb the area before treatment. Some patients are given a sedative or anti-anxiety medicine to relax. Patients being treated for facial scarring may need to wear goggles to prevent eye damage by the laser. Wet towels will be placed around the treatment area to absorb excess laser pulses. The laser is passed over the skin several times. In between passes, the scar is wiped with water or a saline solution to cool the skin.
The process may sting or burn slightly. Some patients feel a snapping sensation against their skin. Little or no bleeding occurs in most cases, although severely damaged skin may bleed. When the treatment is finished, the area is covered with a clean dressing or ointment.

Possible risks

As with any treatment, there are risks associated with it, though they are minimized in the hands of a qualified ASDS dermatologist. These include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Scarring
  • Crusting
  • Discoloration
  • Infection  


The average cost for laser resurfacing is between $1,750 and $2,300. Other factors affecting cost include size and location of the procedure. Although laser resurfacing is considered a cosmetic procedure, there are certain situations where insurance covers the procedure for scar modification.

How to prepare for the procedure

Before the procedure, an ASDS dermatologist will usually review the patient’s medical history and conduct a physical exam. This is the time for the doctor and patient to discuss expectations, potential risks and outcomes of the procedure.

What to expect after the procedure

Following treatment, your ASDS dermatologist will bandage the treatment area. Patients will be required to:

  • Clean the treatment area after the first 24 hours, and then four to five times a day thereafter.
  • Apply an ointment, such a petroleum jelly, after cleanings to prevent scabs from forming.

Laser resurfacing patients also can expect the treated area to:

  • Swell for 24 to 48 hours after treatment.
  • Itch or sting for 12 to 72 hours after treatment.
  • Slough and peel off old skin five to seven days after treatment.

Healing typically takes 10 to 21 days, depending on the size and location of the procedure. After the treatment area is fully healed, patients should:

  • Use only oil-free makeup for at least two to three months.
  • Avoid sun exposure and apply an appropriate sunscreen to the area, which will have a lighter appearance following resurfacing.
  • Keep new skin well-moisturized.

Find a doctor for your laser therapy for scars

Visit “Find a dermatologic surgeon” and choose “Laser Resurfacing” from the dropdown menu. In 2013, ASDS dermatologists performed nearly 152,000 laser resurfacing treatments, up from 82,000 in 2012. Because ASDS dermatologists are trained in a variety of the best and latest techniques, they are the most qualified to evaluate and select the best treatment choice based on the individual patient’s condition.

Render 960px View
Render 768px View
Render 480px View
Render 320px View