Laser skin tightening is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that aims to reduce some signs of skin aging. It uses lasers to heat collagen in the skin. However, there may be some risks, such as scarring.

However, laser skin tightening procedures carry certain risks, which can be more significant for people with dark skin tones. Some research suggests that individuals with dark skin can safely undergo only certain kinds of laser skin tightening treatments.

This article discusses laser skin tightening, including types of procedures and potential side effects. It also explores how to prepare for the procedure, how much it may cost, and what to expect afterward.

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Laser skin tightening is a nonsurgical, minimally invasive cosmetic procedure. It may help reduce signs of aging on the skin.

As skin ages, it tends to lose its elasticity and become less tight. This process involves the changing properties of certain fibrous proteins within the skin known as collagen.

The idea behind laser skin tightening is to use infrared light radiation to heat the collagen within the skin. Certain frequencies of this radiation cause changes to the outer layers of collagen and stimulate the production of new collagen. This may cause the skin to appear tighter.

The body areas people most often target using laser skin tightening procedures include the:

  • face
  • jawline
  • neck
  • stomach

There are two main types of laser skin tightening procedures: ablative and non-ablative. There are also fractional lasers, which can be ablative or non-ablative.


Ablative lasers are the more aggressive laser treatment. They penetrate into the skin and cause damage to the collagen, sometimes destroying it. This prompts the skin to produce new collagen, which may lead to tighter-looking skin.

Evidence suggests that ablative lasers can be harmful to dark skin. They may also harm the skin of those with certain conditions, such as psoriasis. A person who has recently undergone radiation therapy may also be at risk.


Non-ablative lasers are less aggressive than ablative lasers. Unlike ablative lasers, they can heat the collagen within a person’s skin without destroying it. This heating promotes collagen production.

Non-ablative lasers may be more suitable for individuals with dark skin than ablative lasers, although there are still safety concerns.


Fractional lasers create columns of beams at skin depth, and they do not cause damage to the spaces between the columns. Fractional lasers can be ablative or non-ablative.

Some research indicates that fractional non-ablative lasers may be no more dangerous for dark skin than for light skin. However, further research into the effects of fractional non-ablative lasers on dark skin is needed.

Learn more about Black skin care here.

The most common side effect of laser skin tightening is pain during treatment. However, research has shown that other side effects may include:

People with dark skin are more likely to experience side effects from laser skin tightening.

A person should contact a healthcare professional for further information and to determine whether laser skin tightening is right for them.

Learn about the Fitzpatrick skin types here.

The specifics of laser skin tightening treatments will vary from clinic to clinic.

However, a 2021 review lists some of the main steps that should occur before laser skin tightening procedures:

  1. The clinician will inform the person about the possible risks of the procedure.
  2. They will determine whether the person has any skin conditions that could make the treatment unsuitable.
  3. The clinic will take photographs of the person’s skin before the procedure.
  4. To reduce the risk of infection, the clinician may apply antiviral treatment to the person’s skin.

The cost of laser skin tightening will depend on the clinic providing the service, the city or state, and the type of laser skin tightening technique.

The best way to find out about these costs is to ask a reputable local clinic for a quote.

According to the Aesthetic Society, skin tightening procedures generally cost around $760.

A 2021 review notes that individuals who have undergone a laser skin tightening procedure should protect their skin from the sun. This should make hyperpigmentation less likely.

Laser skin tightening can cause:

This may happen without any exposure to sunlight.

People should consult a healthcare professional for further information about how to care for skin after laser skin tightening procedures.

The idea behind laser skin tightening is to use certain laser frequencies to heat up the skin, prompting it to tighten in response. The two main kinds of laser skin tightening are ablative and non-ablative.

The procedure may cause side effects, such as swelling, pain, and hyperpigmentation. It is also of note that laser skin tightening procedures are more likely to cause side effects in people with dark skin tones.

A person should contact a healthcare professional about which type of laser skin tightening may be suitable for their skin. A healthcare professional may also recommend a reputable clinic.