Ablative Laser FAQ


What is “ablative laser” resurfacing?

Ablative laser resurfacing at our Sydney cosmetic clinics is one of the most effective and predictable methods of reversing skin ageing. Ablative lasers are lasers that “ablate”, also know as “vaporise” the skin in a controlled and precise manner.

An ablative laser is used to both resurface the skin and to stimulate collagen in the deeper skin layers.  The purpose of undergoing an ablative laser treatment is  to dramatically improve the following issues:

  • surface imperfections
  • skin tone
  • pore size
  • wrinkles
  • scarring 

How does laser resurfacing work?

There are two ways to apply and ablative of laser. 

Fractionated Ablative Laser

This is when the energy is delivered via splitting (fractionating) the laser into smaller individual beams. Fractionated ablative laser works by creating columns of heat into the deeper skin layers which stimulate the growth of new collagen. Importantly the skin tissue between the columns are preserved which significantly reduces the down time from each session.

Fractionated laser covers around 10% of the surface area of the skin whereas full field laser covers 100% of the surface area of the skin.

Fractionated laser is suitable for treating deeper into the skin, with 200 microns being a common depth used. Full field ablative laser treats at a more superficial level of the skin.

Full Field Ablative Laser

Full field ablation  is utilised at a more superficial depth and involves completely removing the superficial skin layers and therefore “resurfacing” the skin layers.

Whereas there is more down time associated with this type of ablative laser application, the results can be dramatic.

Am I a candidate for ablative laser?

Many different variables go into determining suitability for ablative laser treatment. When you attend The Manse Clinic, your doctor will undertake a comprehensive medical history and assessment of your skin and advise you on the most appropriate option to meet your individual needs. Importantly the ablative laser we use at The Manse Clinic is highly adjustable and can be tailored to meet the individual needs of your skin. 

Is laser skin resurfacing painful?

Although not pain-free, ablative laser treatments are generally very well tolerated. We ask that you arrive at least one hour prior to your appointment as this allows us to apply a strong topical numbing cream to the areas being treated. Additionally the use of local anaesthetic “nerve blocks” and nitrous oxide “laughing gas” can be utilised to make your session as comfortable as possible.

What is the downtime from this procedure?

The downtime will be dependent on which type of ablative laser your Doctor has recommended and also the settings chosen. The downtime of fractionated laser is usually less than the full field ablation approach.

The deeper the treatment you are having the greater the downtime associated and your Doctor will discuss this with you during your consultation prior to treatment. 

In the majority of patients we treat, we use the settings associated with about 3 days downtime for fractionated laser and 5 days downtime for full field ablative laser. For even more significant results, different settings will be chosen and more downtime will be required.

What is ablative laser recovery like?

For full field ablation, in the first few days your skin will be red and swollen. It is likely you will have some oozing and mild discomfort. Dependant on the treatment approach you may have some peeling around day 4-6. Additionally, you will need to apply a protective ointment to the treated area for the first 5-7 days depending on your Doctor’s recommendation. Typically, you can start applying makeup again around the 7 day mark.

For fractionated ablative laser you may have bleeding for the first 24 hours or so and a graze-like appearance for the next few days.

What are the risks?

Redness swelling and itching are anticipated as part of your skin recovers from the trauma of the laser. Occasionally the redness symptoms (erythema) can be prolonged but resolves in time. Aggravation of previously undiagnosed skin conditions, such as rosacea, can contribute to the prolonged erythema.

As with any procedure that involves damaging the skin barrier, infection is an uncommon but important risk. Skin infections can result from bacteria, cold sores and even fungal sources. Thankfully, these types of infections are very rare and your Doctor may prescribe prophylactic medication to further decrease this risk during the recovery phase of your treatment.

Hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) and much less commonly hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin) can occur. The ablative laser system we utilise here at the Manse Clinic is highly adjustable and therefore allows us to reduce these risks through tailoring the device to your skin type. Additionally, your doctor may recommend that you apply a skin lightening cream before and/or after your session in order to further reduce risks of pigmentation issues.

Individual risks will differ dependant on skin type, medical history and treatment paradigm. Your Doctor will discuss all the risks and potential side effects of the recommended treatment during your consultation.

How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments recommended will vary based on individual treatment targets and expectations. As a rule of thumb you can anticipate 2 – 3 treatments spaced 6-8 weeks apart. Again this is highly variable and will be discussed with you at time of consultation.

What preparation will I need?

Your preparation for this type of procedure will be very dependent on the type of ablative laser you are having, individual medical history and skin type. During your consultation with one of our doctors, be prepared to answer questions about current and past medical conditions and any medications that you may be taking. Your doctor will physically examine the skin to be treated and provide you with the most appropriate treatment plan and preparation for your individual circumstances.

Based on this initial consultation, your doctor may recommend medications and or topical creams which will decrease your risks of complications such as hyperpigmentation or infection. Additionally, you will be asked to practice strict sun avoidance and sunscreen application for at least 4 weeks prior to the procedure. If you are a smoker, it is highly recommended that you cease smoking at least two weeks before the procedure.

How much does laser skin resurfacing cost?

Please see our pricing page for current pricing of ablative laser.

We’re happy to discuss whether ablative laser resurfacing is right for you. Use our online booking tool to schedule a consultation.