The ubiquity of increased sun exposure, oral contraceptives, and phototoxic drugs has led to an increased prevalence of conditions such as dyschromia, melasma, rhytides, and other signs of photoaging over the past few decades. Through the application of selective photothermolysis, laser surgery has attempted to create therapeutic options for these medically recalcitrant conditions. To date, however, this technology has been met with limited success, due to a high incidence of posttreatment side effects, inability to treat off the face, and a safety profile tailored to Fitzpatrick skin types I to III. More recently, a novel approach coined "fractional photothermolysis" was developed in an attempt to overcome these limitations. This new laser treatment modality has allowed for effective treatment of a diverse array of dermatologic conditions on and off the face with a wider therapeutic index and improved safety profile independent of Fitzpatrick skin type. This review sheds light on the technical aspects, biologic mechanisms, and clinical effects of fractional photothermolysis that help set it apart from previous modes of laser surgery.