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Skin Resurfacing
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Skin resurfacing or skin rejuvenation employs a variety of techniques to improve the appearance of the skin. Both men and women seek skin resurfacing to reverse the signs of aging, sun damage, scarring, and other skin blemishes. Most damage related to aging occurs in the upper layers of the skin. By sanding away this damage using a variety of processes, skin resurfacing reveals smoother and healthier looking skin. Common skin resurfacing techniques include the use of fractional lasers, intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments, radio frequency resurfacing, and lasers.

Length of Surgery

30 minutes to 2 hours




Local or topical

Back to work in...

2 days or less

Back to the gym in...

5 days or less

Treatment Frequency

1 year or longer


Temporary redness and swelling, infection and scarring, uneven skin pigmentation



Duration of results:

1-15 years

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Click links below for detail.

Skin resurfacing costs

Skin resurfacing costs can vary widely between the various types of resurfacing procedures. New procedures are being developed every day; in general, those using newer technologies tend to be more costly than other treatment methods, although they are often associated with a safer, faster, and more effective treatment.

Am I a candidate for skin resurfacing?

Most adults of any age in good overall health are able to undergo skin resurfacing. Your skin color and type, ethnic background, and age are important considerations that may impact the type of skin resurfacing procedure that is right for you. Skin conditions such as active infections, cold sores or blisters around the mouth, or a history of poor scarring, may disqualify you from some skin resurfacing techniques. In addition, if you are taking Accutane acne medication, you must discontinue the medication for at least six months before undergoing skin resurfacing.

Typically, skin resurfacing techniques are able to treat wrinkles caused by loss of skin elasticity, while they are less effective on lines caused by the movement of facial muscles, such as smile lines. Skin resurfacing can improve the appearance of a wide variety of skin blemishes, including:

  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Acne scars
  • Sun damage

What is skin resurfacing?

Skin resurfacing encompasses a variety of techniques aimed at improving the surface of the skin by gently removing the outermost, damaged layer of skin to reveal healthier skin underneath. These procedures also vary in how deep they are able to penetrate the skin. Some provide only superficial results, while others are able to penetrate deeper, treating scars and other blemishes in the inner layers of skin. The deeper treatments can provide more dramatic results, although they are also associated with a longer recovery period. A more superficial treatment requires less healing time, but may need to be repeated in the future.

Skin resurfacing steps

There are many different skin resurfacing methods, each with their own procedures. Typically, the face is first thoroughly cleansed to prepare it for resurfacing. Then, a topical or local anesthetic will be used to numb the area and reduce discomfort. Most skin resurfacing techniques range between mildly uncomfortable and pain-free; the feeling during laser skin resurfacing, for example, has been compared to the snapping of a rubber band against the skin.

Most skin resurfacing techniques employ the use of a laser beam, radio frequency wave, or intense pulsed light to gently and comfortably remove the damaged skin layer by vaporizing it instantly, with no bleeding and minimal trauma to the surrounding skin. The entire face may be treated at once, or a partial-face skin resurfacing may be performed, including treatments to focus on specific skin blemishes such as laser scar revision.

Skin Resurfacing Recovery and Healing Steps

Depending on the procedure used for your skin resurfacing, a dressing may be applied to your skin. Ointments may also be applied for up to two weeks following the procedure. Your doctor may recommend avoiding sun exposure and strenuous activities until the skin has completely healed, which can take up to four weeks.

Following skin resurfacing, your skin will continue to age naturally. Depending on the type of skin resurfacing procedure, results may be visible for up to fifteen years. Some wrinkles may reappear sooner than others.

Skin Resurfacing Side Effects and Procedure Risks

Common side effects include swelling, crusting, and redness which may persist for several weeks following skin resurfacing procedures. The skin may feel moderately sunburnt, particularly following laser-based procedures. Some redness may persist for up to four weeks until the skin is completely healed. Potential complications include hyper- or hypo-pigmentation (increased or decreased skin pigmentation), infection, and scarring. If you are prone to Herpes outbreaks, skin resurfacing procedures may cause an outbreak, especially if areas around the mouth are treated.

Skin Rejuvenation Checklist

Skin Rejuvenation Checklist

Knowledge is power so arm yourself with the facts before making any decision about Skin Resurfacing procedures; click here for an essential check list to help you find the right Perfect Yourself skin specialist.

Most popular procedures on Perfect Yourself: liposuction, breast augmentation, face lifts, rhinoplasty, tummy tucks
Be sure to also visit our Expert Advice page where you can find great questions from real visitors, Answered by real plastic surgeons, cosmetic dentists, and skin rejuvenation specialists.