Price of laser procedures

Laser skin resurfacing, laser hair removal, laser tattoo removal, lasers that lighten skin, and even laser for pain.  The possibilities are endless!  Laser medicine and surgery has transformed the landscape of skin beauty and cosmetic surgery.  Whether it's a CO2 laser, an erbium laser or a pulsed dye laser, there's a wavelength waiting for you in almost every modern aesthetic clinic these days. 

Laser skin resurfacing gives you baby-smooth skin that was admired in beauty models years ago before skin cells even experienced laser. Laser tattoo removal lightens or removes those tattoos you got decades ago, possibly while intoxicated, and lived to regret them.  And there are laser solutions for skin lightening, removing sun damage, resurfacing, stopping your pain, and even lasers for better vision.

The more you know about these different beauty solutions, the greater your chance of choosing the best solution for you. This article will provide medical data, including side effects of these different beauty treatments. We'll go over some average prices listed across clinics in the U.S.  In other countries, pricing may differ, but you'll get a sense for which laser treatment is more or less expensive than the next.  

History of Laser Cosmetic Procedures 

The first medical use of laser technology was in 1962 when the first laser was used to successfully remove a tumor. By 1963, the ruby laser was reported in the medical literature to dissolve plaques in the arteries. That same year, scientists were working on lasers that could effectively remove tattoos. 

A woman who has had laser skin resurfacing on one side of her face.

By 1983, lasers were targeting chromophores in cells and the possibility of laser hair removal was well in motion. ND:YAG lasers and longer wavelength lasers were then created as hair removal devices. That's around the time that skin care took a new turn. With a new procedure such as laser therapy, personal skin care was conducted less at home and more in medical offices.

By the 1990s, lasers could produce a ‘wound’ in the dermis by delivering heat and thus stimulating collagen production; skin tightening and wrinkle reduction resulted. They could positively affect skin cells. Next came fractionated lasers (Fraxel, for example) that would spare sections of the skin and reduce complications. These lasers cut down long recovery times and reduced the possibility of scarring and pigmentation problems that were common with the previously designed early lasers. 

Lasers are used by a doctor, specialist dermatologist or plastic surgeon, and according to the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, no cosmetic procedure is without risks. This is why it's so important to look at both the possible things that can go wrong as well as the benefits from these procedures. In some cases, the laser procedure may be considered cosmetic surgery and is done along with other surgical procedures. 

Price of Laser Treatments has Decreased

Over the years, the price of different laser procedures has come down and these have been made much more affordable for the average person. What exactly is the cost of different laser procedures? How does the Fraxel laser treatment price differ from the CO2 laser? What is the cost of laser hair removal? Can substantial savings be made for laser hair removal when it is done at home? What about the cost of laser tattoo removal? 

The best way to see the different costs is in a list that allows you to quickly see the approximate cost of the laser treatment, the benefits, how often the treatment should be done, and whether or not touch-ups are needed. You can also read the science behind each treatment, which will help you determine if the price of the laser treatment is worth it for you. 

How laser tattoo removal works

 

The Way that Different Laser Treatments Work

Laser Tattoo Removal

Pigments used in the tattooing process are too large for the body to remove naturally. Lasers remove them. Light that hits the skin causes pigment particles to vibrate, heat up, and break into smaller pieces, which are then removed by the lymphatic system. 

Laser Hair Removal Treatment

Light energy is targeted to the chromophores of hair (melanin). This destroys the hair and the hair follicle. 

At-home Laser Hair Removal 

Works the same way that professional laser hair removal does, except the strength is considerably less.

Fraxel Laser Treatment

Non-invasive laser that penetrates the skin for the purpose of stimulating collagen production. It only targets a fraction of the skin at one time. Uses two wavelengths, 1550 and 1927. Remodels skin troubled by discoloration and pre-cancerous spots as well as sun damage and age spots. 

Laser Skin Resurfacing

Removes layers of skin slowly and with precision to allow new cells to form, creating more youthful, tighter skin. Removes even yellow and green pigments.

Fractionated CO2 Laser

A form of resurfacing that creates thousands of microscopic laser spots that heat up and damage the skin. The healing process then ensues, and scars and spots fade away. Collagen improvement results within the next six months after treatment. 

Gemini KTP Laser

Capillaries and small blood vessels absorb this bright green laser. Capillaries may disappear upon contact while others need four weeks to resolve. 

Lasers often generate heat, which incurs damage to the dermis. This then creates signals to the body that much more collagen has to be created to start the repair that is needed.

Procedure done: laser skin on one side of the face compared to no laser

Comparing the Costs of Different Laser Treatments Including Laser Skin Resurfacing Cost

Laser Tattoo Removal

  • Benefits: lightened tattoo, faded tattoos
  • Cost: $200-500 per treatment in most centers
  • Cost depends on type and extent of the tattoo,
  • Expertise/training of the surgeon reflects cost
  • The newer the tattoo, the more expensive it is to remove it
  • Takes 6-8 sessions usually with 6-8 weeks in between sessions
  • Each laser treatment is 20 minutes to > 1 hour depending on size

 

Laser hair removal (professional clinic)

  • Benefits: Smooth, hairless skin.
  • Overall laser treatment price is $100-$800/session in many centers
  • Cost increases according to surface area treated. Guideline for course of treatments:
    • Face + neck $600-900
    • Arms $350-500
    • Bikini Area $350-500
    • Lower legs $600-850
    • Back $600-900
    • Chest $350-600
    • Chin $100-300
    • Underarms $150-250
    • Bikini $150-450
    • Upper Lip $100-300
    • Abdomen $150-400
    • Full body $2500-3000
  • Depends on technology; some types of equipment are pricier and will command a higher price.
  • Usually 6 treatments are needed. Results are not permanent. 
  • Touch-ups are usually necessary. 

Laser Hair Removal at Home 

  • Benefits: convenient and no doctor needed
  • One-time purchase of laser hair removal equipment that costs anywhere from $200 to $900. You can choose your treatment area.
  • Some devices have unlimited flashes (if IPL) 
  • Check for length of time of warranty
  • Some devices are speedy
  • Some devices have different settings
  • Treatments are generally less than an hour and have to be repeated more frequently than professional laser hair removal. 
  • Touch-ups after 9 months should occur about every month.

Fraxel Laser Treatment

  • Benefits: Smooths skin, including scars and lines/wrinkles. One session reduces discoloration by about 80%.
  • $500-$5000/session
  • Average cost in NYC is $1500/session
  • Depends on geographic location. In the Philippines at some centers, it’s $100-$230/treatment of face.
  • Four to five treatments needed, each a month apart, especially for reduction of scars.
  • Optimal results in 3-4 months.
  • Results last about 1 year. Touch-ups once a year.

Laser Skin Resurfacing 

  • Benefits: Smooth skin, scars lessened, skin tone and color evened out from skin resurfacing
  • $1960 per session for ablative (full face) in one center
  • $1200 for non-ablative laser skin resurfacing
  • Cost depends on:
    • expertise and qualifications of doctor,
    • time and effort needed for the treatment 
    • exact type of procedure
    • location
  • Additional costs for medication, anesthesia, surgical facility
  • Takes up to 2 hours for a treatment
  • More than one treatment may be needed.

CO2 Laser Resurfacing

  • Benefits: a form of laser resurfacing that works on the outer layers of skin.  Helps pigmentation, smooths fine lines and wrinkles, counteracts years of sun damage. 
  • $1500-2500 for full face treatment per session
  • Scar treatments $250 starting cost
  • Cost depends on the condition of your skin 
  • Expertise and qualifications of doctor or medical professional determine cost too
  • More than one treatment may be needed. Treatments are 30 minutes to 2 hours. 
  • Results are lasting after final treatment.

KTP Laser Treatments

  • Benefits: Facial redness, broken capillaries, angiomas, acne rosacea, port wine stains
  • $400/treatment approximately
  • Cost depends on location
  • Expertise and qualifications of M.D. determine cost
  • Treatment takes up to 45 minutes. 1-3 treatments needed. May need additional treatments. Touch-ups after 4 weeks. 
  • From this list, you can zero in on which types of laser will benefit you the most. How you care for your skin after the treatment is going to be important for your recovery as well as the frequency of touch-ups.

Summary

The cost of laser treatments for smoother skin, wrinkles, large pores, tattoo removal, and broken capillaries has come down over the years. Cost often depends on treatment area and most clinics offer a treatment package so you can enjoy a discount and get the best results too.

Medical lasers are truly a modern miracle in aesthetic medicine that offer incredible benefits to your skin and to your self esteem.  

References

Choy, D.S. History of lasers in medicine. Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 1988 Jun;36 Suppl 2:114-7.

Jelinkova, H. Introduction: the history of lasers in medicine. Lasers for Medical Applications Diagnostics, Therapy and Surgery. 2013, pg. 1-13. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780857092373500011

Dermatology Times, Dermatology Times, April 2019, Vol. 40 (4). https://www.dermatologytimes.com/view/history-aesthetic-lasers

 

February 22, 2021