Manageing Patient Expectations for Laser Skin Resurfacing

How to create a positive experience for your laser treatment patients

With laser resurfacing, as with any cosmetic procedure, the key to a positive patient experience is making sure that they are fully informed. In almost all of the unsatisfied reviews on social media and review sites, patients say one of three things:

  • The results were not as good as I expected
  • It was more painful than they said
  • It took much longer to recover than I was told

Clearly, they are unhappy about the results, the pain, and the recovery time. But what they are actually complaining about is that they were uninformed, misinformed, or misled. Of course, fully educating your patients won’t make the results any better, but it will prepare your patients for exactly what to expect. Yes, they may opt out and you may lose that patient treatment. But that’s better than a dissatisfied patient—for both your patient and your practice.

Before you clear their skin, be clear about the facts

If the patient is new to you, or new to laser resurfacing, you need to provide complete and accurate information about the treatment—both the pros and the cons. Be honest and upfront about what laser resurfacing can do, what it cannot do, how much it will hurt, any possible side effects, how long it will take to recover, how long the enhancement will last, and how many treatments it will take. Show before-and-after photos, the best ones and the typical ones. Share patient testimonials. In simple, patient-friendly terms, explain how the treatment works. Below are the questions most frequently asked by new laser treatment patients. Even if your new patient doesn’t ask them all, you should make a point to answer them all. If you’re treating a returning laser patient or an experienced laser patient, you can skip the full list. However, you’ll still want to make sure that they don’t have any of these questions.


The critical questions and answers for laser skin treatment

What is laser skin resurfacing?

Without going into all the technical details, explain that ablative treatments vaporise or remove thin layers of skin, and non-ablative treatments deliver heat deeper into the skin, causing the tissue to coagulate (or clot). In both cases, you are applying controlled damage to the tissue, causing the body to respond by triggering its natural healing response. Skin imperfections continue to improve over time to create that sought-after glow.

What conditions can it treat?

Explain the exact types of conditions that your laser treatment or treatments can improve—for example, wrinkles, age spots, scarring, enlarged pores, lax skin, and discoloured skin. Make it very clear that laser resurfacing isn’t a face lift, a dermal filler, or a wrinkle relaxer, like Botox. It’s more effective than microdermabrasion, but it requires more downtime.

Will the treatment hurt?

The pain of laser treatments is often compared to the sting of a rubber band snapping against the skin. But it could be more or less painful, depending on the laser treatment and the individual’s tolerance for pain. Deeper ablative lasers may require a local anaesthetic or sedation to manage the discomfort. Some non-ablative laser treatments cause very little pain and require only numbing cream for patient comfort.

Are there any possible side effects?

This will depend on the type of laser treatment(s) you offer, but patients should know that there is a small chance of side effects, including:

  • Redness, swelling, and itching
  • Infection
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Hypopigmentation
  • Scarring
  • Burns
  • Bruising

How much downtime is needed?

Again, this will depend on the type of laser treatment, but patients should know that non-ablative lasers typically require less than a week of downtime, while ablative lasers can require 2 to 3 weeks before the skin has completely healed and final results can be seen.

When should I schedule my laser skin resurfacing?

Because laser-treated skin is hypersensitive to sunlight, some practitioners recommend scheduling treatment in the fall or winter, when the days are shorter and more time is spent indoors. A more important consideration is how the downtime will impact their life. For example, will the treatment recovery require that the patient take time off from work? Or does the patient want to look their best for an upcoming event?

HALO® gets glowing praise from patients and doctors

The HALO laser from Sciton is the world’s first hybrid fractional laser. By delivering both fractional ablative and non-ablative laser wavelengths in the same pass, HALO treats the damage you can and cannot see at the same time. Patients receive both ablative and non-ablative results with non-ablative recovery times. What’s more, the dual wavelengths can be delivered in many different permutations of depths and coverage to customise the optimal treatment for each patient. HALO is customisable for light, medium, or deep treatments, making it easier to retain patients because you can tailor the treatment to best meet their expectations. In testimonials, reviews, and social media posts, patients and doctors express the highest levels of satisfaction with their HALO treatment and results.


  1. Mayo Clinic. Laser resurfacing. Accessed February 2020.