A Quick Guide Through Laser Scar Removal

By Emily M.| Last updated on August 18, 2023

Read all about laser scar removal – what kinds of lasers are used, what kinds of scars it can help, and who is a good fit for the procedure!

laser scar removal

Image source: Instagram @dr.mayahabre

Laser scar removal has been around for a while now, which means that the technologies and methods are getting more and more advanced. Still, undergoing this procedure isn’t a small or easy decision to make.

For that reason, it’s important to do your research! In this article, you’ll find more information about the different lasers there are and the different scars they can help remove (or at least reduce).

So, here’s all about laser therapy for scars!

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Laser Resurfacing on Scars

Laser resurfacing is a popular treatment that includes using a laser to remove the outermost layer of the skin, revealing a fresh and clear layer underneath it. It’s a pretty effective way to get rid of fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and other imperfections.

But when it comes to scar resurfacing too, different lasers can be a great solution.

The principle is the same – the laser will remove a layer of the skin where the scar is located. It’s important to remember that, in some cases, using laser resurfacing for scars won’t be able to remove the scar in its entirety, but will certainly make it less visible.

You’ll be able to learn more about that during your consultation with a dermatologist or laser expert, so make sure to ask any questions you may have.

Click here for the full guide on laser skin resurfacing!

What Lasers Are Used in Laser Treatment for Scars?

In order to help you best understand what you’re in for with laser scar treatment, or laser scar revision as it’s also known, let’s go through the different kinds of lasers medical professionals usually use for removing scar tissue.

Keep in mind that, no matter how much research you’ve done, it’s always up to the medical professional to decide which type of laser will work best for your specific case.

That’s why any good doctor will start your treatment with a consultation where they can get to know you and your skin better.

With that being said, let’s take a look at the most popular lasers used for cosmetic purposes.

CO2 Laser Scar Removal

The CO2 lasers use carbon dioxide as its main medium for the light energy that’s used to treat your skin, hence the name.

They’re most commonly used on the face, but it’s also possible to use them for a procedure anywhere else on the body.

CO2 lasers, in general, are very effective when it comes to removing scars. However, their efficiency relies on your skin’s natural collagen production efforts, so it’s important to consult with both a dermatologist and laser expert beforehand.

If your skin’s collagen production is slow or in any way inhibited, the results of using the CO2 laser for scars might not be what you had expected, or you may need to go in for more treatments than you originally planned.

If you want more in-depth information about CO2 laser scar removal, read this article!

Erbium Laser for Scars

An erbium laser, also commonly abbreviated as an Er:YAG laser, is a type of laser in which the active medium is erbium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet.

Wait, what does that even mean?

To translate science into plain English, this means that it targets the water in your skin, removing one tiny layer at a time. The light it uses is actually infrared light, so it’s usually used for various skin rejuvenation treatments on top of scar removal.

This type of laser is most commonly fractured, which means that it also minimizes any collateral damage that could be done to the skin surrounding the scar you want to remove.


Image source: Instagram @labellavidaaesthetics

Fractional Laser for Scars

A fractional laser can be CO2, erbium or a different laser technology.

They’re called fractional because the beam of light that is used to treat scars (or other imperfections) is fractured into hundreds or even thousands of light specks instead of a single beam.

Using a fractional laser guarantees that some skin will be left untouched and unharmed by the laser, so less downtime will be required during the recovery process, which will also be pretty smooth and not uncomfortable.

The results of using this type of laser to remove scar tissue are very impressive and the treatment is safe and FDA-approved.

Ablative Laser for Scars

An ablative laser is also a type of CO2 or a different laser and it’s one of the oldest examples of using lasers in skincare. The treatment is somewhat more intense than the fractional one as the light travels either in a continuous beam or in pulses.

They vaporize the outermost layer of your skin (the epidermis), although it can go even deeper if your condition is more severe. This means that scars can be targeted with great precision, and no surrounding tissue will be harmed by this treatment.

Both fractional and ablative lasers trigger your skin’s natural regenerative processes due to the trauma they’re causing.

These processes include promoting the production of collagen and elastin which means that your skin will come out of the treatment looking tighter and more rejuvenated!

Certain scars are made larger and more difficult to manage due to too much collagen, so your dermatologist will recommend a different type of laser in that case.


Image source: Instagram @dr_achraf_ellouadghiri

IPL Laser for Scars

The main difference between the IPL laser and the other kinds of lasers is that the IPL changes the wavelengths of the light it emits. The treatment is overall much less aggressive so the recovery period will be more comfortable for those who get this treatment.

In terms of scar removal, the IPL, like we said, is a milder treatment.

So, naturally, it is used to treat scars that aren’t very prominent. Its main function is to target the redness of the scar and reduce its visibility in that way. This also means that no damage whatsoever will be done to the surrounding skin.

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What Can Laser Scar Removal Do?

Now that we’ve covered the different types of lasers that are used for laser scar removal, let’s get into which scars can be handled with just one session and which will require a little more effort.

Laser Treatment for Scars on Face

When it comes to scar tissue on your face, the laser that is used depends on the type of scar.

The skin on the face is the same as on the other parts of the body, so, depending on the initial wound, the scar will be different.

However, the most common scars on the face are from acne. In that case, a fractional CO2 laser is usually used. Although it’s aggressive, it’s also very effective.

Still, your doctor may recommend something else, again depending on the severity of your scarring.


Image source: Instagram @skinrefinemedspa

Laser Treatment for Surgical Scars

Surgical scars are (obviously) the scars that are left behind after a surgery. Laser removal is a pretty popular option here as they’re usually pretty large and often in noticeable places on the body.

The doctor will most likely recommend fractional lasers, although ablative and IPL come in as close seconds.

As with other kinds of scars, you may end up needing more than one treatment if the scar runs deep enough or is exceptionally large. Or, if the scar is smaller and shallower, you may just need injections or other skin treatments.

Hypertrophic Scar Laser Treatment

Hypertrophic scars are somewhat less common than keloids and are characterized by the fact that the scar tissue is raised in comparison to the rest of the surrounding skin.

They’re usually a result of burn-related wounds or other heat damage, but genetics also play a factor in who can get them.

These types of scars can be treated with any kind of laser – the decision will be based on other factors. These factors include taking into account how much the tissue is raised and how large is the affected area.

Note that, in some cases, it is possible that your doctor will recommend alternative treatments if your scar is either too severe or not severe enough.

Keloid Laser Treatment

Keloid scars are a specific type of scar that is characterized by the fact that it often grows larger than the size of the initial wound that caused it. These are caused by having too much collagen in your skin and generally can’t be predicted or prevented.

But they can be removed by non-ablative CO2 lasers.

Depending on the size, it might take more than 1 treatment, but that is up to your doctor to decide. It’s also good to keep in mind that laser keloid removal can be a long and uncomfortable process especially if the keloid grows too large.

So, if this is your case, it’s best to look into removal methods as soon as possible and make the journey a little bit easier on yourself.

Laser Scar Removal – Main Takeaways

To finish this article, we’ll remind you once again that your dermatologist and laser surgeon will have the final say. After the consultation, they’ll be able to give you the best advice on the most effective method of getting rid of your scars.

With that said, we hope that this article helped you learn more about the treatment and make a well-informed decision regarding whether laser scar removal is the right thing for you!

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