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What is Fractional Resurfacing?

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Fractional resurfacing refers to laser treatments in which only a fraction or portion of the skin is treated by the energy source from the laser. There are two broad categories of fractional resurfacing lasers: ablative and non-ablative. Non-ablative lasers heat the skin without destroying the surface epithelium. These treatments are less aggressive and result in little to no social downtime, depending on the energy levels that are used.

Non-ablative Fractional Resurfacing can be done in an aggressive way and as such, can cause social downtime that includes swelling and dryness. This can last up to three days. However, the vast majority of non-ablative fractional resurfacing procedures usually involve a social downtime of only 24 hours. Non-ablative lasers help aging skin, acne scars, surgical scars, sun damage, traumatic scars, brown spots, and a medical condition called melasma. The benefit of non-ablative lasers is that they can be used on a broader range of ethnic skin types such as darker complexions seen in African American patients, Asian patients, and Hispanic patients. The changes in the settings that are used for these are known by experts in non-ablative fractional resurfacing care.

Ablative fractional resurfacing lasers are lasers in which a fraction of the skin is treated, but the skin that is treated is totally ablated or destroyed. This results in the crusting and oozing of the surface wound. Fractional ablative lasers do require a period of social downtime that can last from four to seven days depending on the aggressiveness of the treatment. During that social downtime the patient has to be treated with compresses, and is required to use ointment on the face in order to prevent crusting. The patient must also take care to avoid possible infection because there is an open wound.

Ablative fractional resurfacing is used for more severe photoaging, acne scars, surgical and traumatic scars, and severe sun damage. Because ablative resurfacing is more aggressive, the downtime is longer and the results more dramatic. The patient requires fewer treatments to accomplish the resulting improvement.

The reason we now have fractional lasers is to answer the problem we had in the mid 90s from the overly aggressive fully ablative lasers that were used to improve photoaging. Indeed, we now feel that these fractional lasers, both ablative and non-ablative, hit a sweet spot in patient care such that the patient does get significant improvement without extreme downtime. The extreme swelling and pain that patients previously had to endure in order to achieve the cosmetic result is no longer an issue. Mild sedation, nerve blocks and topical anesthetics eliminate the need for dangerous general anesthesia.

Fractional laser and fractional resurfacing are now the standard of care for the treatment of photoaging, scars, sun damage, and for the overall improvement of the appearance of the skin.


Meet one of the countrys leading experts in the field of non-surgical skin rejuvenation.

Lupo Center for Aesthetic and General Dermatology
Mary P. Lupo, M.D. - Connect on Linkedin

Our mission at the Lupo Center is to provide patients with innovative, effective and ethical care to make each person look and feel their personal best. To fulfill our goal, we provide state-of-the-art medical, surgical and cosmetic treatments to all patients.

Board certified dermatologist and clinical professor of dermatology Mary P. Lupo, MD has been a leader in the field of non-surgical rejuvenation since 1983. She travels internationally to teach her innovative techniques, and her reputation brings in patients from around the country. She started the first formal residency training program for injectables and peels in 1983 at Tulane Medical School and served as past president of Women’s Dermatologic Society, adjunct professor of dermatology at Tulane and a founder of Cosmetic Boot Camp. Dr. Lupo holds membership in many prestigious dermatology associations, participates in clinical trials for approval of new drugs and devices and acts as an advisor for numerous aesthetic-minded companies.

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Review From Phuong N.
The best dermatologist in all of the Louisiana easily. She’s is very knowledgeable and can help you with your skin conditions. Make sure you tell her everything and don’t be shy because she moves fast, and you may forget to tell her something. But all in all I highly suggest her.
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