Laser surgery for the skinSurgery using a laser
Laser surgery uses laser energy to treat the skin. Laser surgery can be used to treat skin diseases or cosmetic concerns such as sunspots or wrinkles.
A laser is a light beam that can be focused on a very small area. The laser heats specific cells in the area being treated until they "burst."
There are several types of lasers. Each laser has specific uses. The color of the light beam used is directly related to the type of surgery being performed and the color of the tissue being treated.
Why the Procedure Is Performed
Laser surgery can be used to:
- Remove warts, moles, sunspots, and tattoos
- Reduce skin wrinkles, scars, and other skin blemishes
- Remove dilated blood vessels and redness
- Remove hair
- Remove skin cells that could turn into cancer
- Remove leg veins
- Improve skin texture and cellulite
- Improve loose skin from aging
Possible risks of laser surgery include:
- Pain, bruising, or swelling
- Blisters, burns, or scarring
- Discoloration of the skin
- Cold sores
- Problem not going away
Most laser surgery for the skin is done while you are awake. Talk to your health care provider about risks of laser surgery.
After the Procedure
The success of laser surgery depends on the condition being treated. Talk to your provider about what you can expect.
Also discuss with your provider, skin care following treatment. You may need to keep your skin moisturized and out of the sun.
Recovery time depends on the type of treatment and your overall health. Ask your provider before treatment how much recovery time you will need. Also ask about how many treatments you'll need to achieve your goal.
DiGiorgio CM, Anderson RR, Sakamoto FH. Understanding lasers, lights, and tissue interactions. In: Hruza GJ, Tanzi EL, Dover JS, Alam M, eds. Lasers and Lights: Procedures in Cosmetic Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 1.
James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM. Cutaneous laser surgery. In: James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 38.
Review Date: 11/4/2020
Reviewed By: Elika Hoss, MD, Senior Associate Consultant, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.