- Laser treatment for scars reduces the appearance of scars. It uses focused light therapy to either remove the outer layer of the skin’s surface or stimulate the production of new skin cells to cover damaged skin cells.
- Laser treatment for scars can reduce the appearance of warts, skin wrinkles, age spots, scars, and keloids. It doesn’t completely remove a scar.
- This procedure requires a topical anesthetic to numb the skin. Sometimes sedation is needed.
- Laster treatment for scars is an outpatient procedure. It should only be performed by a board-certified dermatologist.
- Mild side effects of the procedure include pain, swelling, redness, and temporary oozing. These effects usually disappear in a couple of days.
- There’s no long downtime with this procedure. You can expect healing in about 3 to 10 days.
- The cost of laser treatment for scars varies. It can range from $200 to $3,400, depending on the size of the scar and the extent of the treatment.
- Although scars can’t be completely removed, studies have shown that laser therapy can effectively minimize a scar’s appearance and thickness.
Laser therapy uses focused beams of light to treat damaged areas on the body. It can remove tumors and other growths, improve vision, stop hair loss, and treat pain. Laser therapy can also improve the appearance of scars.
Laser treatment for scars is an outpatient procedure. Your doctor repeatedly moves a laser wand over your skin to remove damaged skin cells and diminish scars. These include:
- injury scars
- burn marks
- acne scars
- dark spots, age spots, and other types of hyperpigmentation
Because this procedure involves heat and light, your doctor may not recommend it if you have light sensitivity. Certain medications can cause this type of sensitivity. Be sure to speak with your doctor to see if you’re a good candidate.
Your doctor may also discourage laser treatments if you take blood-thinning medications due to the risk of bleeding.
They may also discourage laser treatments if you have:
- active acne
- skin sores
- darker ski
Since laser treatments for scars are cosmetic and elective procedures, your insurance may not cover the cost.
The cost of treatment depends on:
- the size of the scar
- the number of scars
- the amount of laser treatments you’ll need
Keep in mind that you may need more than one laser treatment to get your desired results. You’ll have to pay each time you see your doctor for treatment.
Because the out-of-pocket cost for laser treatment varies, it’s important that you consult with more than one doctor to compare prices before proceeding. Some offices will charge a consultation fee in addition to what you pay for the actual procedure.
On average, a single laser treatment to improve the appearance of a scar costs between $200 and $3,400, according to the University of Michigan’s Department of Dermatology.
There’s no extended downtime with this treatment, so you don’t have to worry about too much time off work. You may be able to return to work the next day or within a few days.
Laser scar treatments don’t make a scar disappear. Instead, they’re designed to make a scar appear less noticeable.
The body begins the process of repairing a wound after a skin injury. A scab develops over the injury to protect it from germs, then eventually falls off. Sometimes, the skin underneath a scab is the same color as the rest of the body. However, depending on the depth of the injury, a scar often remains after a scab falls off.
These scars may fade or become lighter with time. When a scar becomes permanent, laser treatments can be used to remove the outer layer of the damaged skin’s surface. They basically smooth the skin to improve tone and appearance.
These lasers are also used to target blood vessels in the scar tissue and reduce redness. They can also penetrate the skin’s surface to stimulate the production of new skin cells.
During your consultation, your doctor will decide the best procedure for improving a scar. Your options may include the following:
Ablative or laser resurfacing
This type of treatment improves the appearance of scars, warts, and wrinkles. Resurfacing removes the outer layer of skin and eliminates skin cells that have been damaged at the surface level. Your doctor may use a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser for deeper scars, or an erbium laser for surface scars.
Fractionated laser resurfacing
A laser penetrates a deeper layer of the skin’s surface to remove dark pigmented cells. This procedure also stimulates collagen production and skin cell renewal, which can make your scars appear less noticeable.
Non-ablative laser resurfacing
Infrared heat lasers penetrate the inner layer of the skin. This also stimulates collagen production and cell renewal to replace damaged skin cells.
Laser treatments for scars are outpatient procedures, although the length of procedures vary. You can expect some mild discomfort during treatment. Your doctor will apply a topical anesthetic to numb the area so you don’t feel pain. You can ask for sedation if you’re treating a larger scar.
Because this procedure uses light and heat to treat damaged skin cells, you may experience side effects, such as:
Mild side effects should improve within a few days. See your doctor if you develop signs of an infection, such as increased redness or severe pain. Other signs of a skin infection include developing an abscess or a pocket of pus near the site of the procedure.
Recovery times vary, but it may take 3 to 10 days for your skin to heal. Your doctor will provide aftercare instructions immediately following treatment. These may include the following:
- Avoid direct sunlight for four to six weeks after the procedure.
- Apply a cold pack or moist cloth to the area to reduce swelling.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication when needed.
- Wash and apply moisturizer daily.
- For facial procedures, you may need to avoid makeup for a few days.
Laser skin treatments for scars are long-lasting, although results may not be permanent. You may need repeated treatments in the future.
Results aren’t always instant. It may take weeks or months before you notice a difference.
Once you decide to have laser treatment for scars, your doctor will provide information on preparing for your procedure. You may need to make the following adjustments before treatment:
- Stop smoking at least two weeks before your treatment.
- Don’t take aspirin, supplements, or medications that can slow the healing process.
- Don’t use skin care products containing retinol or glycolic acid two to four weeks before your procedure.
- Wear sunblock. Avoid prolonged sun exposure before your procedure.
- If you’re getting a laser treatment to the face and have a tendency to get cold sores on the lips, your doctor will need to give you an antibiotic medication to prevent an outbreak after your treatment.