- Laser skin resurfacing is a cosmetic procedure that uses concentrated beams of light at a specific wavelength to heat water molecules in the skin.
- This treatment can improve a number of skin issues including wrinkles, fine lines, scars, uneven skin tone and age spots.
- Professional treatments are typically between $200–$6,000, while at-home alternatives are from $500–$800.
Laser skin resurfacing costs can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, including the type of laser used, the severity of the condition being treated and the size of the treatment area.
Laser skin resurfacing is a popular form of phototherapy. Both ablative and nonablative laser treatments are utilized to address a variety of skin concerns such as wrinkles, scars and blemishes by stimulating the natural collagen production process and skin cell turnover rate.
Types of lasers
There are two main types of resurfacing lasers: nonablative and ablative.
Nonablative options, such as pulsed dye, heat collagen in the skin without damaging the surface layer. This increases collagen production with minimal recovery time. However, the results of nonablative treatments are less dramatic than its ablative counterpart, and multiple sessions are often required for noticeable results. This option is best for younger patients with early signs of aging and for those with raised hypertrophic scars.
Ablative options, such as CO2 and Erbium lasers, are more invasive as this procedure removes the top layer of skin. This process increases the efficacy of the treatment, to significantly improve aged skin, deep acne scarring and hyperpigmentation – often in a single session.
While ablative lasers are more powerful, they are also more expensive and have a longer recovery time of up to 3 weeks. Additionally, they have more associated severe side effects, including potential scarring, swelling and infection.
Fractional lasers, available in both ablative and nonablative forms, are another type of resurfacing that splits the treatment light beam into thousands of small columns. This causes several small areas of collagen to heat up at once, leading to better results than traditional forms of nonablative lasers, and provides a faster recovery time than traditional ablative options. These treatments can address wrinkles, acne scars, sun damage and skin discoloration.
How Much Does Laser Resurfacing Cost?
The cost of laser skin resurfacing can vary widely depending on a number of factors. A full skin resurfacing treatment ranges from as low as $200 to as much as $6,000. The average resurfacing session is priced at roughly $1,600, however multiple sessions may be needed.
One of the key factors that determines the price of a resurfacing procedure is the type of laser being used. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) the average cost per session is approximately $2,000 for ablative and $1,150 for nonablative procedures.
Fractional options are usually less expensive than nonfractional alternatives, typically ranging from $300–$2,000, with most procedures priced around $1,500.
Other factors that can impact the price of your procedure include:
- Size of the treatment area
- Number of treatments required
- Skin condition being treated
- Geographic location
- Experience of the practitioner
Size of treatment area
The treatment area can range from a small spot treatment to the entire face and neck. As more extensive procedures require more time and effort on the part of the practitioner, the price of treatment can climb rapidly as the area to cover increases. When used to rejuvenate the entire face in cases of skin aging, the price of resurfacing is usually between $1,000 and $2,500 per session.
Spot treatments used to address smaller, localized skin issues, such as acne scars, age spots and birthmarks, are significantly quicker procedures and tend to range from $200 and $500 per session.
Number of treatments
Multiple sessions may be required to treat more severe skin issues; large scars and deep wrinkles may need up to three sessions. However, issues such as fine lines and mild skin discoloration can be addressed in a single session.
Nonablative procedures are also more likely to require multiple sessions than ablative treatments, as it offers less dramatic results.
The price of your treatment is essentially multiplied by the number of sessions you require, however some specialists may offer discounted pricing when more than one session is needed.
Your location within the United States can play a role in determining the cost of your treatment. As a general rule, cosmetic procedures tend to be more expensive in larger cities with higher rent costs.
The experience of the practitioner that you choose to work with also impacts the overall cost. Highly qualified dermatologists with years of experience generally charge higher fees than less experienced counterparts.
With this in mind, it is important to research several clinics in your area to find one that suits your needs and budget.
Is Laser Skin Resurfacing Covered by Insurance?
Laser skin resurfacing is usually a cosmetic procedure, and as such, is rarely covered by most health insurance plans.
However, you may be covered when the procedure is used for medical reasons, such as removing precancerous cells, or for reconstructive reasons, such as scar revision. Speak with your insurance provider prior to your procedure to find out if some or all of the costs are covered by your plan.
Can You Finance Laser Skin Resurfacing?
As resurfacing procedures can be prohibitively expensive for some, most clinics offer the option of financing the procedure with a payment plan. On a two-year plan, a full-face treatment usually costs between $50–$100 per month.
However, financing usually results in additional fees, especially if the clinic uses a third-party financing company. This can add up to several hundred dollars or more over the course of payment.
Additional Costs of Laser Skin Resurfacing
When calculating the cost of your resurfacing procedure, additional products and fees can increase the overall cost by as much as several hundred dollars. Some of the most significant costs to take into account are:
- Anesthesia to reduce pain during the procedure
- Painkillers and high SPF sunscreen following the procedure
- Financing costs – if using a payment plan
While not a fee, another financial consideration for some is the downtime associated with laser skin resurfacing. These procedures, particularly ablative options, can result in redness and swelling that may require time away from work. In some cases, side effects can take up to 3 weeks to fade after each session.
At-Home Laser Skin Resurfacing Cost
Most at-home laser resurfacing devices are weaker versions of nonablative fractional lasers used in clinics. There are several tools on the market which typically cost between $500 and $800.
At-home devices are usually accompanied by gel products to help the device glide smoothly across the skin for optimal results. Once the included supply is depleted, additional tubes will cost from $20–$150 depending on the quality and amount of gel purchased.
Ablative, nonablative and fractional laser treatments can help address the visible signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles, as well as scarring and uneven skin tone.
The price of laser skin resurfacing ranges from $200–$6,000. The cost of your procedure will vary depending on your skin concern and severity, as well as other factors including location and provider.
While a single nonablative treatment session is less expensive than an ablative one, nonablative lasers are less effective and are more likely to require multiple treatment sessions, leading to a higher overall price tag in the long term. While they may require more downtime and cost more per session, ablative lasers are more likely to produce results after just a single session.
Cosmetic laser treatment is not covered by insurance policies but many clinics offer financing options to make the procedure more accessible.
At-home laser skin resurfacing offers a more affordable alternative to clinical treatment. Typically priced between $500–$800, commercial nonablative fractional laser devices offer a less powerful version of clinical tools.
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