Laser Treatment for Skin Lesions

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Treatment Overview

Laser treatment uses a highly focused beam of light. This high-intensity light is used to shrink or destroy skin lesions like pre-cancers (actinic keratosis). With lasers, there is usually less bleeding, swelling, and scarring. Healing is quicker, and you are less likely to get an infection.

Several different types of lasers are used to treat skin lesions, including the carbon dioxide (CO2) laser.

What To Expect

The treated area might be painful for a few days. Healing usually occurs in a few days to a few weeks. It depends on what type of lesion was treated and what kind of laser was used. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions for caring for your skin.

Why It Is Done

Laser treatment may be used to treat an actinic keratosis. It can also be used to treat things like warts and some birthmarks.

How Well It Works

How well laser treatment works for skin lesions depends on things like what kind of lesion is being treated. It can also depend on what type of laser is used, your age, and your skin tone.

Precancerous lesions like actinic keratoses may go away after one treatment, but they can come back. Other lesions, like large birthmarks, may need several treatments and may not go away completely.


There are some risks associated with laser treatment, but they are rare. Ask your doctor if this treatment is right for you. Some examples of risks include:

  • Infection of the treated area.
  • Blisters and scabbing that can lead to scarring.
  • Lighter or darker skin in the treated area. This can be permanent or temporary. It's more common if you have a darker skin tone.


Current as of: November 16, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.