Laser resurfacing treatments can help smooth and firm the skin of your face. But you will have to pay to get that fresh, more youthful complexion. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the cost of laser skin resurfacing ranges from an average of $1,228 for non-ablative procedures to $2,169 for an ablative CO2 laser treatment. But keep in mind that you could pay considerably more — or less — than those figures for your procedure depending on a number of factors. Here’s what could impact the price you pay for laser resurfacing:

  • Where you live: Cosmetic treatments cost considerably more in major urban areas due to the higher cost of living. You can expect to pay more if you live in New York City than you would in suburban Oklahoma.
  • What kind of treatment you need: A laser resurfacing treatment that just targets a few small areas of your face may cost less than a treatment that covers the entire face, and non-ablative procedures, which don’t penetrate the skin as deeply, won’t cost as much as those done with an ablative laser.
  • Who performs the procedure: Ablative lasers must be used by plastic surgeons, while non-ablative laser resurfacing can be performed by trained nurses or aestheticians. And treatments that are performed by more experienced nurses or aestheticians and plastic surgeons will cost more than those placed in less-experienced hands. Consider that that additional cost is likely a wise investment to ensure you are in capable hands.
  • What kinds of pre- and post-treatment care you require: If you are prone to developing infections or cold sores, your doctor may need to prescribe antibiotics or antiviral medications before you undergo your laser resurfacing to help minimize the chances that the laser resurfacing brings on an infection or cold sore outbreak. You will also need ointments and creams to help with your recovery as well as retinoid creams and high-SPF sunscreen to help preserve the results after your treatment is complete.
  • How many treatments you will need: If you are using laser skin resurfacing to help minimize acne scarring on your cheeks or eliminate other blemishes and damage, you may need to have multiple treatments in order to make them disappear. This is especially true if you’re using a non-ablative laser, which isn’t as powerful as an ablative CO2 laser. “With the fractional laser, you may have to do one to three treatments to get results,” says Lori Cherup, MD, a plastic surgeon at Radiance Plastic Surgery in Bridgeville, Pa. “That increases the total cost of the treatment.”

Be sure to consult with your plastic surgeon before you sign on to laser resurfacing to get a complete rundown of all fees you’ll need to pay for your laser treatment. Your plastic surgeon should be able to offer you a full estimate, with everything included, from pre-procedure consultations to the post-op follow-ups.

Weighing the Costs of Laser Resurfacing

While the overall cost of laser treatments may seem prohibitive, especially when you may also be considering less expensive treatments like Botox and dermabrasion, you need to weigh the results you’ll achieve from the procedure versus the cost. Laser skin resurfacing can often last for years or even provide a permanent solution, while treatments like Botox provide temporary results that require constant upkeep. Over time, this “cheaper” solution can be more expensive in the long run.

Before you settle on a particular procedure, talk with your doctor to ensure that you achieve the best possible results for your face. Make sure you:

  • Talk about what you hope to achieve with laser resurfacing. Based on your own goals, your doctor may recommend a different procedure than laser resurfacing to ensure you get the look you desire.
  • Ask how often your doctor performs laser skin resurfacing. The more experience he has with using the lasers, the better the results you’ll have.
  • Get a good look at the before-and-after pictures of your doctor’s former clients. You’ll get a sense of what kinds of results he can achieve with laser resurfaci