Everything to Know About Laser Skin Tightening

Photo of author
Published on

Laser skin tightening is a simple cosmetic treatment to combat signs of aging by using lasers to heat collagen in the skin. While it’s minimally invasive, there are risks like scarring.

For people with darker skin tones, these risks can be higher. Research shows that certain laser treatments might be safer for them.

This article covers the basics of laser skin tightening, different procedures, and potential side effects. It also touches on preparation, costs, and what to expect post-treatment.

What is Laser Skin Tightening?

Laser skin tightening is a non-surgical and minimally invasive way to tighten skin on the body. It aims to reduce signs of aging, like wrinkles and sagging skin.

The procedure isn’t very painful and can be performed on various body parts, commonly the stomach, neck, face, and jawline.

As we age, our skin loses its elasticity and becomes looser. This happens because of changes in collagen, a protein in the skin.

Laser skin tightening works by using infrared light to heat up collagen in the skin. This heat stimulates the production of new collagen, making the skin tighter.

Types of Laser Skin Tightening Procedures

Laser skin tightening procedures mainly fall into two categories: ablative and non-ablative. There are also fractional lasers, which can be either ablative or non-ablative.


Ablative lasers are more aggressive treatments that penetrate the skin, potentially damaging collagen, and prompting the skin to produce new collagen for a tighter appearance. However, they may pose risks for dark skin and people with certain skin conditions like psoriasis or recent radiation therapy.


Non-ablative lasers are less aggressive, heating the collagen without causing damage. This heat stimulates collagen production. While they may be safer for individuals with dark skin, there are still safety concerns to consider.


Fractional lasers create beams at skin depth, leaving spaces between the columns untouched. They can be ablative or non-ablative. Research suggests that fractional non-ablative lasers may be safe for dark skin, but further studies are necessary to confirm this.

Risks and Side Effects of Laser Skin Tightening

Laser skin tightening is generally safe, with fewer risks compared to surgical procedures like a facelift. However, it’s not as effective as surgery. Make sure the procedure is performed by a skilled cosmetic dermatologist or a trained skin care professional.

The main side effect of laser skin tightening is pain during treatment. However, other potential side effects may include:

  • Scarring
  • Redness (erythema)
  • Infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi
  • Darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation)
  • Lightening of the skin (hypopigmentation)
  • Formation of small, white bumps (milia)
  • Acne-like breakouts (acneiform eruptions)
  • Ectropion, where the eyelid turns outward or droops away from the eye

People with darker skin tones are more prone to experiencing side effects from laser skin tightening.

Before undergoing laser skin tightening, consult your doctor if you have skin cancer or are on prescription acne medication. Pregnant women should avoid this treatment.

How to Prepare for the Procedure

The preparation process for laser skin tightening can differ depending on the clinic. Here are some general steps outlined in a 2021 review:

  1. The clinician will discuss potential risks associated with the procedure.
  2. They will assess if the person has any skin conditions that might make the treatment unsuitable.
  3. Photographs of the person’s skin may be taken before the procedure for comparison.
  4. To minimize infection risk, the clinician might apply antiviral treatment to the person’s skin.

In the weeks before your laser skin tightening treatment, you’re recommend to 

  • Wear sunscreen daily, particularly if the procedure targets your face or neck.
  • Avoid facial peels and chemical treatments for at least a month beforehand.

Keep in mind that you should arrive for your appointment with bare skin. Don’t use any makeup or skincare products.

How Much Does Laser Skin Tightening Cost?

Laser skin tightening isn’t covered by insurance since it’s a cosmetic choice. 

On average, the procedures typically cost about $760 according to the Aesthetic Society. You’ll likely need three to six sessions, spaced about a month apart.

Of course, the price varies based on the clinic, location, and technique used. 

To find out an accurate cost, you can contact a trustworthy local clinic for a quote.

What to Expect After the Procedure?

You’ll notice some skin tightening right after the first session, with more improvement after each subsequent treatment.

Since laser skin tightening doesn’t involve incisions, it won’t take a long time for recovery.

As recommended by a 2021 review, you should protect your skin from the sun to reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation after the procedure. 

While serious side effects are rare, some people might experience:

  • Minor swelling
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Pain

If you need some advice on post-procedure skin care, consult a healthcare professional.

Final Thoughts

Laser skin tightening is a simple procedure that doesn’t require much recovery time, so you can quickly return to your regular routine.

During the procedure, the laser heats up your skin, causing the collagen to tighten. This makes your skin appear firmer and smoother.

Expect some swelling and redness afterward, though scarring or infection are rare.

While you might notice some improvement after one session, the best results usually come after three to six sessions.

By taking good care of your skin, like using sunscreen regularly, you can make the results last for up to three years.

Looking for professional skincare advice? Schedule an online consultation with dermatologist Dr. Ava Patel to address your concerns.

Leave a Comment

Online Skincare Consultation with Dr. Ashley Morgan