Balshi Blog

A Closer Look at Laser Skin Resurfacing

Taking a closer look at laser skin resurfacing: In the last 20 years, there have been major advances and improvements in laser skin resurfacing technology. There are many cases where laser technology could be used for skin resurfacing. Laser skin resurfacing gives the patient minimal disruption or downtime for procedures such as reducing facial wrinkles, acne scars, skin growths and blemishes. This is why laser skin resurfacing has become vastly popular over the ages.

In the developing years, the industry has been advancing the “ablative” laser systems. Which means they mainly target the top of layers of the skin and a little below the surface on the lower layers of the skin. Most laser techniques used today are “non-ablative” laser technology that focuses only on the dermis, and leaving the epidermis intact. 


Types of Laser Skin Resurfacing Available

Although the results of a “non-ablative” laser skin treatment are not as effective, they are more popular with the safety of these technologies and fast recovery post treatment. These lasers are separated into three categories (PDL) pulsed dye laser, two visible light laser, and (IPL) intense pulsed light laser

There are actually a lot of laser options available. One procedure cannot treat all kinds of skin types or all patients with different skin concerns. Your decision can be narrowed down to what problems do you want to address? What results are you hoping to achieve? What are your overall goals? Fortunately, you don’t have to figure this out on your own. With board certified Dermatologists like Dr. Thomas Balshi of South Florida, you’ll have top trained professionals who are able to recommend the best treatment for you based on your skin and skin needs. 


However, there are a few options of laser technology you can look into:

1 – IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) – IPL uses a broad spectrum of light wavelengths, delivered in brief pulses. This light absorbs excessive pigmentation in the skin, and stimulates collagen production, which improves overall skin tone. IPL is considered a non-ablative treatment and requires little to zero downtime. 

IPL treats: fine lines, vascular lesions, texture problems, age spots, freckles, spider veins, rosacea, sun damage, hyperpigmentation

2 – CO2 Lasers – considered ablative lasers, these lasers treat scars, warts, and deep skin flaws like wrinkles. 

3 – Pulse-Dye Lasers – considered non-ablative lasers. These lasers heat the skin and reduce redness, hyperpigmentation, absorbs pigments, broken capillaries, and rosacea. 

4 – Fractional Lasers – these can be ablative or non-ablative. Thousands of tiny beams which treat only a small portion of the skin in the area. This reduces recovery time. Most of these procedures for age-related blemishes. 

5 – Erbium Lasers – can also be ablative or non-ablative. This is a well-known tool for treating skin laxity, aging, lines, and wrinkles through collagen remodeling. 


Are You An Ideal Candidate for Laser Skin Resurfacing?

For those who don’t prefer or would like to avoid long recovery times, these patients would benefit from non-ablative laser resurfacing. Patients who are also looking to reduce wrinkles from the sun, reduce acne and facial scars from trauma, remove benign skin growths and scaly patches on the body are all good candidates for laser skin resurfacing.

People with tanned or dark skin should consider testing in a spot to avoid experiencing extreme dyspigmentation. It is also recommended to avoid direct sun and to ensure they’re wearing sunscreen before and definitely after treatments. For people who live here in Delray Beach, Florida, having darker or tanned skin tends to be more common. This usually comes from all the direct sunlight we get all year ’round. These procedures should be taken seriously when it comes to sun exposure. Making sure all efforts have the best and healthiest results. 


Consult Your Dermatologist

If you are considering laser skin resurfacing it is best advised to consult with your dermatologist to find out if you are for sure, a good candidate. Your doctor will provide you with good pre-procedure advice to prep you before treatment.

Doctors will most likely ask you to not take any supplements or medications before your procedure. To stop smoking before your treatment. Also, your doctor may prescribe you an antibiotic medication to prevent infections. 

Considering this is an outpatient procedure, you won’t have to stay overnight. Whereas, small parts of the face can take 30 to 45 minutes and a full face treatment could take up to a couple of hours. 

Many Dermatologists recommend undergoing laser procedures during fall and winter months. Because laser-treated skin is hypersensitive, spending most of your time indoors helps protect the skin from long-time sun exposure


Is Laser Skin Resurfacing Painful?

Various intense pulsed light therapies destroy melanin-producing cells without damaging the skin’s surface. This procedure typically takes a couple of sessions. Ablative lasers to remove the top layer of skin (epidermis) and normally make a difference after one procedure. However, non-ablative laser treatment is a flash of light that is absorbed in the skin. It is more frequently absorbed by darker pigmented spots on the skin. When dark pigmented skin or dark spots absorb all the light’s energy, it’ll simply peel off in a few days.

It can be mildly uncomfortable. The procedure is described to feel like snapping on your skin. One treatment can be enough but depending on the level of damage, some patients may need to schedule a couple of additional treatments for best results. 

Collectively, depending on the procedures and lasers used, pain will vary. Non-ablative laser treatments are less painful than ablative treatments on average. It does not require pain management. It may only provide a little discomfort that could be minimized with a cold pack. 

For ablative laser treatments, small areas could be treated with topical anesthetics. Larger procedures may also include injectable, inhaled or regional anesthetics. Ablative laser heats the skin’s layers which encourages collagen production. It creates an even and smoother appearance by stimulating the skin in the treatment area.


Are Dark Spots Worrisome?

Most dark spots and moles look similar. So for first time dark spots, you should always get evaluated by a doctor. If there is something wrong, early detection can be significant in the healing process. Having dark spots doesn’t mean it is always a serious diagnosis like cancer. It’s only considered significant because darker spots are damaged skin that can develop cancer. 

However, when left untreated, dark spots can increase over time and become harder to treat. Preventing dark spots from accumulating during the summer months means taking specific precautions when it comes down to putting on sunscreen daily and staying out of direct sunlight. 

It is suggested that if you do get brown spots cleaned off your skin, having these treatments during the colder months will make it easier to keep them away. So in the summer months you can take measures to ensure you can prevent them from reoccurring. 


Are There Any Risks in Laser Skin Resurfacing?

Any treatment can come with risks. As long as you are being treated by a qualified Dermatologist these risks are minimized. Risks could include:

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

Patients can expect swelling for twenty-four to forty-eight hours after treatment, itching or stinging for twelve to seventy-two hours after treatment, and slough and peel off skin five to seven days after treatment. Healing can take up to twenty-one days depending on location and size of the procedure. You will be advised to use oil-free make-up for a couple of months, avoid sun exposure and use sunscreen. Also, to make sure skin is well-moisturized.

There are always risks for complications for laser skin resurfacing. Although it can improve the appearance of your skin. There are risks that may or may not include:

  • Injuries like burns from the heat of the laser
  • Scarring
  • Bacterial infection from open wounds
  • Reactivating viral issues, such as herpes
  • Changes in pigmentation, mostly within darker skin types


Recovery Time?

In most cases, non-ablative laser resurfacing can be a short post-recovery period or none really at all and returning to regular daily activities almost immediately. 

However, ablative laser resurfacing can range from one to four weeks. Depending on the treatment, there may be swelling, redness, and sloughing of the treated area. In various cases, it is possible to wear make-up to hide the side effects and wear sun protection until all the effects subside.  


What Might it Cost You?

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in 2017 laser skin resurfacing costs anywhere from $1,114 to $2,124. Which can all vary based on how many procedures you have, how big the area you are treating is, and where it’s being done. Most insurance companies consider laser skin resurfacing a cosmetic procedure and will not cover costs.



For best results, ablative laser resurfacing is considered top gold standard in comparison. Even though results from non-ablative laser therapy are not as guaranteed as with ablative, there are advantages to low risk and recovery time over several appointments. Most cases do result in better even tone and texture, reduced facial lines, and healthy looking skin. Especially in the Sunshine State of Florida where direct sunlight is a seriously common but yet beautiful side effect of our tropical weather. 

For over ten years, Balshi Dermatology has provided the most exceptional state-of-the-art skincare and cosmetic services to patients of all ages in South Florida. Dr. Thomas Balshi is board certified in both internal medicine and dermatology. His specialties include the aesthetic enhancement of pigmented skin conditions, non-invasive skin rejuvenation, and cosmetic dermatology.


To schedule a skin cancer screening with a board-certified dermatologist in Delray Beach, contact Balshi Dermatology at (561) 272-6000 or send us a message on our Contact Page to set up your appointment.