Laser Resurfacing: The Difference Between Ablative and Non-Ablative

Laser resurfacing is when a laser is used to remove blemishes, age or liver spots, minor wrinkles, scars and other imperfections in the skin and so improve its overall look. There are two types of lasers that can be used for skin resurfacing. One is ablative and the other nonablative.

The ablative laser actually destroys layers of skin, while the nonablative laser treatment encourages the body to produce more collagen beneath the skin and make it more elastic and tight. Ablative laser resurfacing does involve some damage to the skin and there’s a recovery period after the procedure. The patient will experience itching, inflammation and a redness that might last for some months. There’s also a risk of infection with ablative laser surfacing and some people might find their skin becomes dramatically darker or lighter. Still, over time ablative laser resurfacing has been shown to be more lasting and effective than nonablative laser resurfacing.

However, even the non-invasive nonablative laser resurfacing comes with its own risks. Nonablative laser resurfacing can also cause skin to become darker, especially if the person has dark skin. Usually, this goes away on its own after a while. The area will also become red and swollen, though this doesn’t last as long as the swelling and redness of ablative laser resurfacing. The procedure can also raise blisters in the affected area, which can lead to scarring. Moreover, it can cause the dormant herpes virus to become active.

People who have preexisting conditions like diabetes, an autoimmune disease, or have taken certain medications are probably not good candidates for laser resurfacing. Women who are pregnant or nursing are also advised against having laser resurfacing performed. People who are interested in laser resurfacing should consult with their doctor before they agree to have the procedure done.

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