An All-Over Skin Refresh with the Erbium Laser

A new season is upon us… and while yes, we are excited for spring, we’re even more excited for your new glow up! So if you’ve been thinking about doing a little laser skincare, let us encourage and educate you, starting with one of our favorites… the Erbium.

In case Erbium is new to you, we want to give you the inside scoop on this laser we at W love so much. In short, the Erbium is a resurfacing laser designed to remodel the skin by reducing wrinkles, age spots, scars and pores…. consider it an all-over skin refresh! This laser works by treating the top layer of the epidermis and heating the skin beneath to stimulate collagen fiber growth, smoothing and tightening the skin from within.

One of the biggest benefits of the Erbium laser, in addition to its resurfacing and collagen-building power, is that it can be used in both non-ablative and ablative capacities. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, ablative refers to a “wounding” laser which removes a thin outer layer of skin, heating the skin below, while a non-ablative laser still heats the underlying skin without wounding or affecting the skin’s surface. Non-ablative lasers are often used for treating finer lines and more shallow scars or textural concerns with minimal downtime, while the ablative (or fractional) variety is highly effective on deeper scars, wrinkles and textural issues and involves a slightly longer recovery period. The Erbium does both and is a great treatment not only for facial skin but also for the neck, chest/décolleté, arms and hands, making it one of our favorites and one that produces a range of amazing results.

So why would you choose one option over the other and who is a good candidate for the Erbium laser?

If your skin concerns include minor textural issues, sun damage, minimal scarring and fine lines and you’re looking for results with little downtime, you may want to go with our non-ablative Erbium laser. The fractional Erbium is excellent for addressing shallow wrinkles, irregular skin texture or pigmentation, acne scars, stretch marks and even melasma and is effective and safe on many skin types as it carries less risk of hyperpigmentation or skin bleaching. Patients often experience little to no discomfort during treatment (although we do have numbing cream on hand if your skin is especially sensitive), no oozing or bleeding, fewer side effects and a shorter recovery time, as little as a few days to a week. Skin may look a bit pink (like a sunburn), mildly swollen with a possible grid-like pattern for a couple of days, but you should be able to return to work and day-to-day activities quickly. Although you will likely see results after one treatment, we do recommend 3-5 sessions spaced at least a few weeks apart for best and longest-lasting results.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to address deeper wrinkles or scarring, more pronounced texture or pigmentation concerns or just want an even greater skin resurfacing transformation, you may choose to go with the Erbium:YAG. This ablative laser is similar to a more aggressive CO2 laser and works by removing small columns of skin while leaving other areas of skin intact. This laser emits light that’s absorbed by water and, as it reaches the skin, tissue containing water is vaporized, damaging the skin to promote healing. The areas treated by the laser and removed by this vaporization stimulate the healing process and activate collagen production, which in turns delivers growth factors to the skin. Because parts of the surface skin are removed or wounded (strategically and safely), patients experience a skin reaction similar to a burn where skin may blister, ooze or bleed. Over the course of the following weeks as this damaged skin heals, collagen is built and skin rejuvenates itself better than before. The Erbium laser greatly improves fine and deep lines as well as scarring and texture and leads to an overall clearer and brighter complexion.

And while this ablative laser is more aggressive than it’s non-ablative counterpart and involves longer downtime (often at least 2 weeks) and has been compared to the CO2, unlike the CO2, the Erbium:YAG uses an optimal laser wavelength (2940 nm), can vary treatment depths, causes less thermal damage, is less painful and offers a quicker recovery time (often twice as fast as CO2). It also offers highly effective and noticeable skin resurfacing with less risk of hyperpigmentation or skin lightening and results can last up to five years.

As with all of our services, we will consult with you before any laser treatment or series to discuss your skin concerns and the desired area(s) to be treated to determine the best course of treatment for you. Depending on the type of Erbium we determine is right for you, you may need anywhere from one to five sessions to achieve optimal results. Cost varies depending on the area(s) to be treated and the number of sessions, but we can give you a good estimate during your consultation.

If you are a good candidate for Erbium, once we get you scheduled, we will ask you to prepare for your treatment by avoiding sun exposure and tanning for a week prior as well as avoiding alpha and beta hydroxy products and retinols, aspirin/ibuprofen, hydroquinone and Vitamin E products for 3 days before treatment. Post-laser, you can expect skin to be tender, a bit swollen and red and, in the case of the Erbium:YAG, you may also experience some oozing, weeping and scabbing so please do not pick at the skin and plan your schedule accordingly. We ask that you stay away from placing ice directly on skin, being out in direct sunlight and participating in strenuous exercise for a few days after treatment to allow skin to calm and begin healing. You may take Tylenol and apply cool compresses on skin to relieve any discomfort. You can read more about the dos and don’ts of Erbium treatment, as well as what to expect during the healing process on our site at

If you have additional questions or are interested in setting up an Erbium laser consult, don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling our office at 541-241-4011. We can’t wait to show you what all the Erbium hype is about and celebrate laser season with you!