Non-ablative Laser Rejuvenation

What is non-ablative laser rejuvenation?

Non-ablative skin rejuvenation uses a laser to improve the appearance of wrinkles, brown spots and minor scars by creating heat in the skin without injuring the surface of the skin. The heat generated by the laser promotes collagen production which causes the skin to tighten and look young and healthy. Nonablative lasers often are fractionated so they deliver heat into the skin through thousands of tiny, deep columns known as microthermal treatment zones with intervening normal untreated skin. The fractional approach allows the skin to heal much faster than if the entire area was treated. This approach lessens the recovery period and reduces the number of complications that can occur. Multiple sessions are needed in most cases.

Possible Risks

Temporary lightening or darkening of the skin

  • Scarring
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Infection

Before (left) and after (right) nonablative fractionated laser resurfacing with pulsed dye laser - Acne scars.

Photo courtesy of J Waibel

Before (left) and after (right) 1927 nm non-ablative fractionated laser.

Photo courtesy of S. Fabi

Before (left) and after (right) - 8 non-ablative fractionated laser treatments - acne scars - right cheek.

Photo courtesy of T. Katz

Before (left) and after (right) - 1 month after 4 NAFR.

Photo courtesy of S. Bruce

Who is not a candidate for non-ablative laser rejuvenation and is it painful?

The procedure may not be appropriate for people with certain chronic health conditions or unrealistic expectations of the procedure’s outcome.

A topical anesthetic is usually applied to the treatment area to minimize discomfort. Pain is usually minimal.

When is non-ablative laser rejuvenation appropriate?

The procedure is used to improve the appearance of skin conditions such as:

What to expect after the procedure

Recovery time following the procedure is minimal. Improvement is gradual and can take several months to take full effect. In some cases, a series of treatments may be necessary.

  • Most patients can return to work immediately after the procedure.
  • Redness caused by the treatment can be camouflaged by makeup without any negative effects.
  • The treatment area should be kept well moisturized.
  • Patients should avoid sleeping on the treated area to prevent prolonged swelling.
  • Cold compresses can be applied to alleviate pain.
  • Sun exposure should be avoided after the treatment. Broad spectrum sunscreens of at least SPF 30 should be applied daily.

What you should know before the procedure

Before the procedure, an ASDS dermatologist will usually review the patient’s medical history and conduct a physical exam. Let your doctor know if you have a history of cold sores or similar disorders. This is also the time for the doctor and patient to discuss appropriate treatment expectations, potential risks and benefits of the procedure. Prior to treatment, the patient should:

  • Avoid tanning or excessive sun exposure.
  • Avoid perfumes, deodorants and other potential irritants in treatment area.
  • Avoid taking aspirin and other blood thinners prior to treatment.