Ablative Lasers Vs. Non-Ablative Lasers

Ablative lasers such as CO2 and Erbium are more invasive, but produce the best clinical results. They work by vaporizing the outer layers of the skin. This process causes the skin to heal and restructure, and increases collagen production.

Ablative lasers are great for treating visible signs of aging and the results generally last for 1 to 5 years. They can also be used to treat acne scarring, pigmentation irregularities and unwanted lesions.

It is important to note however, that ablative lasers present a longer recovery and a higher degree of risk than non-ablative lasers. Most patients require 1 to 2 weeks of recovery time. Some risks associated with ablative lasers include:

  • Redness or swelling
  • Acne
  • Infection
  • Skin colour changes
  • Scarring


Ablative lasers can treat the following dermatological conditions:

  • Acne Scarring. Both non-ablative fractional lasers and ablative fractional lasers have been shown to be effective in treating acne scars, especially rolling scars, atrophic scars and boxcar scars. Fractional lasers have significant advantages over fully ablative lasers in terms of decreasing downtime and side effects such as the post laser, skin colour changes frequently seen with fully ablative lasers.
  • Surgical, traumatic and burn scars
  • Skin rejuvenation
  • Sun damage and sun spots
  • Syringomas, Epidermal Neavi, Xantholasma, Rhinophyma, seborrheic keratoses


Non Ablative  Laser are far less invasive than ablative treatments. They work by heating up the targeted tissue, without actually destroying it. This process stimulates your body’s collagen production to fill in unwanted skin imperfections such as fine lines or wrinkles.

Because they do not resurface the skin as invasively as ablative lasers, multiple treatment sessions will be necessary to achieve modest clinical results. However, patients benefit from almost no downtime and the risk of undesirable side effects is greatly reduced. Some risks associated with non ablative laser:

  • Infection
  • Skin colour changes
  • Mild redness or swelling
  • Blisters or scars


Non ablative lasers can be used for:

  • Acne and acne scarring
  • Skin textural irregularities
  • Pigmentation
  • Scars
  • Melasma
  • Skin rejuvenation  


Talk to Dr Ciconte to see which treatment is best suited to your skin type and skin issue.