Woman touching face

As you get older, you may notice unwelcome changes to your face, such as fine lines. If you have unwanted blemishes or hair, you may wonder if cosmetic laser treatments could help. Here’s what you need to know.

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What Are Cosmetic Laser Treatments?

Cosmetic laser treatments can remove common blemishes like age spots. They can also minimize rosacea, wrinkles, and acne scars. Laser hair removal is another popular cosmetic laser treatment.

Doctors do most of these procedures in the office.

Do I need to see a doctor for cosmetic laser treatments?

No, but it’s highly recommended. State regulations on licensing differ, and some states allow non-medical employees (i.e., estheticians at a spa) to perform laser treatments. Likewise, some general practitioners offer laser treatments.

However, it’s always best to see a board-certified cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist for your laser treatment. They understand how the layers of skin function and undergo rigorous training in cosmetic laser procedures.

What Conditions Can Cosmetic Laser Procedures Treat?

Doctors use cosmetic laser procedures to treat many common skin conditions. Some of them are:

Unwanted hair

Laser hair removal is an alternative to plucking, shaving, or waxing unwanted hair. It can also treat problems like ingrown hairs and razor burn. Both women and men can benefit from laser hair removal.

You may need six sessions or more to remove all the unwanted hair. Many people remain hair-free for months and even years after laser hair removal.


Cosmetic laser procedures can reduce wrinkles, age spots, acne scars, warts, skin tags, and other trouble spots on your skin. Dermatologists also use lasers to prevent precancerous growths from growing into cancerous ones.

Spider veins

Cosmetic laser treatments can diminish the appearance of broken blood vessels on the face and legs.

What to Expect From Cosmetic Laser Treatments

One major plus to cosmetic laser procedures is that doctors can usually perform them in the office. Depending on the treatment, you may feel some minor discomfort.

Will I need anesthesia?

Yes, you’ll need anesthesia. For most treatments, you’ll receive a local anesthetic injection, which means you’ll be awake during the procedure. If you’re having your whole face treated, you may need a general anesthetic, meaning you’ll be asleep for the procedure.

What is the recovery from cosmetic laser procedures?

Your recovery time will depend on what kind of treatment you had. Things to keep in mind:

  • Non-ablative laser procedures usually don’t require any downtime. You can return to normal activities like work and exercise right after having treatment.

American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, The Top 8 Things You Need to Know About Laser Resurfacing, Link

American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Laser Skin Resurfacing, Link

American Academy of Dermatology, Laser Hair Removal Overview, Link

American Academy of Dermatology, Cellulite Treatments, Link

American Academy of Dermatology, Many Ways to Firm Sagging Skin, Link

American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, Non-ablative Laser Rejuvenation, Link

About Dermatology

The UPMC Department of Dermatology diagnoses, treats, and manages numerous hair, skin, and nail conditions and diseases. We care for common and uncommon conditions, and our treatments include both surgical and nonsurgical options. We operate several specialty centers for various conditions. The UPMC Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center is a comprehensive dermatologic laser facility, offering a full range of cosmetic services and procedures. With UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we offer a Skin Cancer Program that provides complete care from screenings, diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. Find a dermatology provider near you.