What’s the Difference between Ablative and Non-Ablative Lasers, and Which Do I Need?
Laser skin rejuvenation and resurfacing have become some of the most popular cosmetic procedures for both women and men, as they can offer a wide range of treatment options without requiring surgery or extensive downtime. As technology continues to expand, there are a growing number of choices when it comes to laser treatment, which may make it somewhat challenging to decide which type of laser may be most appropriate for you.
Generally speaking, laser treatments can be broken down into two distinct categories: ablative and non-ablative. But what, exactly, do these terms mean, and how do you determine which one you might need?
What Does “Ablative” Mean?
The primary difference between ablative and non-ablative lasers is that ablative methods work by removing the outer layer of skin in order to reveal a smoother, refreshed look. Non-ablative, on the other hand, heat up the underlying layers of skin to stimulate collagen and elastin regrowth without removing the outer layer (Mayo Clinic).
Ablative lasers are typically recommended for those with deeply-set wrinkles, scarring, or significant discoloration. Non-ablative lasers, such as Laser Genesis and Forever Young BBL, may be better suited for women and men looking to improve the overall appearance of their skin texture and tone, although these treatments can also help to minimize more moderate lines and wrinkles.
While each of these treatment options can achieve excellent results, you’ll want to discuss your specific needs and goals with a board-certified dermatologist or experienced laser technician to help you choose the best laser type for your skin.
The Most Popular Ablative Lasers
There are a variety of ablative lasers that can help to deeply treat wrinkles, sun spots, acne, stretch marks, birthmarks and other common skin concerns (American Society of Plastic Surgeons). Three of the most popular ablative lasers include:
- Sciton ProFractional. ProFractional by Sciton works by targeting only the area that actually needs improvement, leaving the surrounding tissue untouched. This allows for a pain-free and extremely customizable experience, along with shorter healing times. The pin-point accuracy of the ProFractional laser creates highly effective and beautiful results on any skin area of the body.
- MicroLaser Peel. This procedure works by removing the outer layers of the skin on the area treated, while simultaneously working to tighten the deeper underlying layers. The MicroLaser Peel can be an excellent treatment option for those who wish to significantly reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, as well as acne scarring or other skin discoloration.
- CO2 Laser. Fractional CO2 (carbon dioxide) lasers have the longest wavelengths of any laser treatment currently available, and can be extremely effective at treating more severe skin conditions, including deep wrinkles, acne scars, or surgical scars. This laser, however, does not treat skin redness or visible blood vessels.
How to Choose the Best Laser for Your Needs
If you feel that laser skin treatment is right for you, be sure to speak with a certified and experienced professional who can guide you through the process. While this guide can give you a general idea of which type of laser might be the right fit for your needs, the best way to determine this is to schedule a consultation with a dermatologist or other skin care professional. It’s also worth noting that although laser treatments are relatively quick and easy, they still need to be administered by a trained professional to ensure your safety and optimum results.
At Acqua Blu Medical Spa in Pittsburgh and Wexford, we offer a wide variety of both ablative and non-ablative laser treatments, administered by our team of highly skilled physician assistants, who have extensive experience performing laser treatments and diagnosing many different skin conditions.
For more information about laser skin resurfacing, or to schedule your consultation, please contact us online or call us at (724) 933-1800 and a member of our friendly, knowledgeable team would be happy to help you.