Infrared Laser Skin Tightening 101

In its simplest form, infrared laser skin tightening is a process by which the skin on the neck, face, or other areas of the body, are tightened utilizing heat therapy. For tightening loose, sagging skin, laser skin tightening is one of the best options to consider. Here we’ll cover how the process works, the pros and cons, and what you can expect in the recovery process.

How Infrared Laser Skin Tightening Works

Once we hit a certain age (around 30), the collagen and elastin production processes tend to slow down in our bodies. These are two proteins that help the skin appear tight, toned, and plump. Laser skin tightening is a process that targets energy in your skin’s outer layers, utilizing laser heat, to stimulate collagen and elastin production process. It’s important to note that not all lasers are created equally. Therefore, you have to go to a reputable doctor or specialist who performs non-surgical infrared laser skin tightening to see the best results.

It’s (Virtually) Pain-Free

The laser procedure does cause minor discomfort during the procedure. This is because of the high levels of heat that are produced; apart from this, you shouldn’t feel any pain during the procedure. There are three methods of laser skin tightening which are

  • Ultrasound
  • Radio frequency
  • Radio frequency micro-needling


For those looking for a “heavy-duty” lift, ultrasound is the way to go. Utilizing ultrasound energy, the process heats the skin at a deeper depth, meaning it’s lifting from deeper below the skin’s outer layers. A handheld device using ultrasound frequencies is applied to the areas that patients want to be treated. Depending on how loose/saggy the skin is, ultrasound laser skin tightening will improve the appearance of the skin significantly with 1 or 2 treatments.

Your doctor will look at the ultrasound waves to ensure they’re hitting the exact areas patients want to be treated during the procedure. The process takes anywhere between 45 minutes to two hours. Some results are realized immediately. However, the final results aren’t seen until about three months after the process has been completed.

Radio frequency

This process is like ultrasound in that a handheld device is used to heat the layers of the skin being treated. This procedure, however, heats the skin at a more superficial level. It focuses on triggering collagen production in the area. Because this doesn’t go as deep as ultrasound, you might need two to six treatments to see the results. The process is quick and pain-free, typically lasting one-hour or less for each session. Depending on the size/area being treated, you can complete treatments 7 to 10 days apart. The results will also take between three and six months for patients to see the final/best results.

Radio frequency Micro-needling

The third modality for performing laser skin tightening is radio frequency micro-needling. The tool utilized in this procedure is similar to a stamp, not so much a needling pen. It’s a motorized stamper, and it has 37 gold needles that create “micro” tears in the epidermis. It doesn’t destroy the dermis, it just creates microscopic holes with the stamping needles. When the needles are in the skin, they emit radio frequencies. This is how the skin is tightened in this process. With this option, you need three to four sessions, that can be done 4 to 6 weeks apart. It’s advised not to exercise or wear makeup for up to 24 hours after completing the session. Similarly, to the other two methods, results aren’t 100% visible until three to six months after the final session is completed.

Laser Skin Tightening: The Good and the Best

So, why choose infrared laser skin tightening as opposed to other cosmetic procedures? There are many benefits and a few drawbacks worth mentioning for those who are considering this form of cosmetic treatment. So, let’s cover those to help you determine if this is the best approach to help tighten loose or sagging skin.

Pros of Laser Skin Tightening

There are several benefits you’ll instantly realize after having infrared laser skin tightening procedures completed. Some of these benefits are

  1. It is non-surgical
  2. There’s no/limited downtime (24 hours recovery at most)
  3. You don’t undergo any cutting/suturing, or anesthesia
  4. It’s safe for anyone to complete, as long as it’s cleared by the doctor/specialist performing the procedure
  5. The procedure is pain-free and takes no time to complete
  6.  only takes 45 minutes to a couple of hours per session
  7. It tightens and helps smooth out the skin
  8. It can treat any area of the body (face, neck, back, arms, stomach, etc.)
  9. Long-lasting improvements are seen in the exterior surfaces of the skin
  10. Results are immediate (not the final results, but you do see improvements immediately)
  11. It’s great for treating frown lines, fine lines, wrinkles, crow’s feet, and other signs of aging
  12. The procedure is non-surgical, meaning it’s non-invasive

The immediacy of this procedure is one of the primary reasons why patients choose it when considering ways to improve the aesthetic appearance of sagging or loose skin. The fact that it’s non-surgical also reduces the risks that are associated with facelifts and other surgical procedures. And, the fact that you have three options to choose from, allows you to pick the method that you believe will deliver the best results (with your doctor/specialist’s suggestions), so you’ll see the improvements you want to see after this procedure is done.

Cons of Laser Skin Tightening

There are a few cons/drawbacks that people should understand before they visit a local surgeon or specialist that offers laser skin tightening in their office. Some of these include

  1. You aren’t going to see 100% improvements (if you expect it to remove all lines, wrinkles, and signs of aging, you’ll be disappointed in the results)
  2. Remember, it may require up to 6 sessions with the different treatments
  3. And, with all three methods, you aren’t going to see the final results for at least three months, so you have to be patient
  4. It is expensive
  5. Although cheaper than plastic surgery, depending on the method chosen, the cost can easily exceed several thousands of dollars
  6. One session of radio frequency or micro-needling is about $600 (depends on where you have it done and the body party), meaning 4 to 6 sessions will cost $2K to $3K.
  7. You still have to talk to your doctor (women who are pregnant or nursing shouldn’t undergo this procedure)
  8. Those who are prone to scarring, keloids, rashes, or skin breakouts, shouldn’t have this procedure completed (or should talk to their doctor before undergoing any of the three treatment methods)

Furthermore, there are no guarantees. In most cases, patients will see the results they want to see. However, a surgeon or specialist is not going to guarantee that they can get rid of every wrinkle on your face or tighten certain areas of the skin/body for some patients. Therefore, people must have realistic expectations if they are thinking about infrared laser skin tightening. Otherwise, it is a waste of money, and you are going to be unhappy with the results.

It’s also important to research before having this procedure completed. Not only do you choose the best specialist in your area, but also to avoid overpaying for the procedure. Today, you can have this done at almost any cosmetic surgery office, and some doctors are licensed to perform skin tightening procedures. Therefore, you’ll want to take your time to compare several offices, patients results, testimonials, and pricing, so that you find the best local specialist where you live, and to ensure you will see the best results possible, regardless of which method you choose for laser skin tightening.

The Recovery Process Post-Laser Skin Tightening Procedure

One of the primary selling points (if not the key selling point) for having this procedure completed, as opposed to cosmetic surgery (or other non-surgical skin tightening solutions), is the fact that there is no downtime. In most cases, you can go back to the office right after lunch when you complete the session. Some people will experience redness, tingling, irritation, or minor pain after they are finished with the treatment session. And, with micro-needling, it is suggested to avoid wearing makeup or doing exercise for up to 24 hours (48 if possible) after the procedure. But most people are back to work the same day and return to their normal routine/skincare regimen the same day.

If you experience pain, irritation, numbing sensation, feel overheated, or are otherwise experiencing discomfort after the procedure, you can call your specialist/doctor to find out if it is normal, or if you should come into the office for a follow-up.

Although it will take up to 3 months to see the results, you won’t experience any downtime or need extra rest after your office visits. You can go back to your normal routine the following day.

***** This post is intended as informational, and should not be used for treating, diagnosing, or as medical advice. Even if you’re healthy and have undergone other cosmetic procedures, it is advisable to seek out the advice of your doctor or a specialist before having laser skin tightening (or other cosmetic procedures) performed.