The Different Types of Cosmetic Lasers

laser hair removal

Lasers have revolutionized the beauty industry, providing significant results with minimal invasiveness. Essentially, lasers work by penetrating pigment within the skin or hair with a wave of light.

Different lasers with various wave lengths target different pigments. Some lasers focus on brown pigment, also known as melanin. Penetrating the melanin in the skin can minimize the appearance of dark spots. Penetrating the melanin in the hair can destroy the hair follicle. Some lasers focus on red pigment, penetrating blood vessels, capillaries or acne scars. Other lasers penetrate the skin to create micro sized wounds, stimulating the body’s renewal response to generate new collagen. This collagen production can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

The Different Types of Cosmetic Lasers:

Cosmetic lasers come in a wide variety, distinguished by their wave length and their mode of delivering the laser. Lasers can also be modified when combined with other elements, such as gases, precious stones and metals.

Ablative v Non-Ablative Lasers

Ablative lasers focus on the outer layer of skin, creating micro wounds on the surface. Non-Ablative lasers pass safely through the outer layer of skin, penetrating the tissue lying beneath.

The recovery time following a non-ablative laser treatment typically takes a few hours to a few days, depending on the specific treatment and intensity of the procedure. In comparison, Ablative lasers require a longer recovery period, anywhere between 3 to 10 days.

What is a Fractional Laser?

Fractional lasers significantly reduce the recovery time by penetrating the skin in micro pinpoints, as opposed to the ablative and non-ablative laser that sweep over the treatment area.

Two popular laser treatments using fractional lasers are Clear + Brilliant and Fraxel.

Clear + Brilliant is a gentle laser used for skin resurfacing. Clear + Brilliant is perfect for treating superficial skin conditions such as fine lines and wrinkles, minor sun damage, or melasma. Clear + Brilliant is also commonly used as a preventative measure to maintain healthy, youthful skin.

Fraxel Laser Skin Resurfacing is the ideal treatment for skin conditions that require a more aggressive laser. Fraxel works by safely penetrating the skin to promote collagen production and to break up the pigment that forms brown spots from sun damage.


This laser uses a green gem to create a wavelength that can penetrate a red spectrum. Alexandrite is used to treat blood vessels. It can also be used for laser hair removal and tattoo removal.

CO2 Lasers:

Gas is used in the Co2 laser to generate and infrared light from an ablative laser. Co2 lasers are commonly used for laser skin resurfacing.


Erbium uses a white metal to produce an infrared laser. Erbium lasers are commonly used for minimizing the appearance of scars and for laser skin resurfacing.


IPL lasers generate a wave length of Intense Pulsed Light to penetrate both red and brown pigment. The IPL laser is popular for people who want to simultaneously treat brown spots and inflamed blood vessels.


The Nd:Yag laser uses a crystal to produce near infrared light. This laser is commonly used to reduce the appearance of brown spots. It is also ideal for laser hair removal and laser tattoo removal.

Pulsed Dye:

The Pulsed Dye laser produces a yellow wavelength of light that penetrates red pigment, ideal for reducing the appearance of blood vessels or acne scars.


The QSwithched laser produces short pulses of intense light. This laser is used to treat discoloration and tattoo removal.


Like the QSwitched laser, the Picosecond laser produces short pulses of high intensity light, used to removal tattoos and treat skin discoloration.

What is the Typical Recovery Time for a Cosmetic Laser Treatment?

Recovery times can vary significantly between the different lasers. Skin type and condition can also influence the rate of healing. Typically, laser hair removal has the shortest recovery time of a few hours. Laser treatments used to reduce the appearance of blood vessels may leave a red mark that usually takes a few hours to disappear. Laser treatments that treat brown spots may take a week to fully heal.

Does Cosmetic Laser Treatments Hurt?

Because laser cosmetic treatments are minimally invasive, the procedures are usually pain free. If a cosmetic treatment requires deep penetration with an ablative laser, your laser technician may apply a topical numbing cream to ensure your comfort during the procedure.

How Much Do Laser Cosmetic Procedures Cost

The price of different laser treatments are spread out on a wide spectrum. Laser skin treatment costs depend on the type of laser and the condition being treated, a cosmetic laser procedure can run you anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand.

Which type of laser treatment is most ideal for me?

Not only is the type of laser determined by your skin type, skin condition, and specific treatment, the application of the laser, such as the speed of the laser, is customized to meet your needs as well. The best way to determine the best laser for your skin is to schedule a free consultation with a skin care expert from SKINNEY Medspa.

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