Choosing the right laser treatment for you

By Louisa Agate, Medspa Director

Gone are the dark days of aggressive lasers that “burned” off the layers of skin leaving you looking like a raw bloody steak. In those days we used a carbon dioxide laser or a CO2 and it worked by damaging skin cells to smooth out wrinkles on the surface of the skin without any specific target thus evaporating the epidermis leaving an opportunity for dirt and bacteria to get in that can cause infection or scarring. This was popular in the late 80’s-90’s into the beginning of 2000, yes sad to say I’m that old!! That process always left telltale signs of treatment such as a line of demarcation, shiny pasty and unnatural looking skin, not to mention the length of downtime sometimes up to 6 weeks. It was dangerous for most skin colors and left very little room for error which meant that so many patients were left scarred and traumatized.

Fast forward to 2022 there have been so many changes to the world of lasers and cosmetic advances, its mind blowing and the future is unstoppable! We have gone beyond the spectrum of light (wavelength), to ultrasound, radiofrequency and gas (plasma)! For this blog post we will focus only on the different variety of lasers, what they treat and who’s a good candidate for them.

So let’s get into it!

Today’s laser treatments are much safer and effective with less downtime and can treat all skin types, colors and conditions. There are lasers to treat acne, pigment, wrinkles, hair removal, tattoo removal, large pores and even eliminate and remodel fat!. Today’s modalities not only treat the face but now we can treat the neck, decollete and body as well. Newer lasers also stimulate collagen production which is great since our body’s capacity to produce collagen starts depleting at around 30 years of age.

You’ve heard them all I’m sure……..fractionated lasers, pico lasers, q-switch lasers, ND:YAG, diode lasers, alexandrite, BBL just to name a few. It’s so confusing, which is right for you and how do you choose?

Laser hair removalSome of the devices like an Alexandrite seek pigment in the hair that absorbs the energy of the laser to destroy the hair follicle from producing new hair which works amazing. For darker skin we use lasers that bypass the skin like a YAG:1064 or Diode to safely treat unwanted hair.

Fractionated lasers – Is a Laser resurfacing treatment that makes microchannels by evaporating the water in the skin making a micro wound into the skin this in turn stimulates a healing response that will help improve skin texture, stimulate collagen, improves acne scars, and a lot more. Since many fractionated lasers are not seeking a color, it is safe for all skin colors as long as the laser is just a fractionated and NOT ablative which we will discuss soon. Within the fractionated family of lasers are different degrees of “strength” For example, Clear + Brilliant is a non-ablative fractionated laser treatment that can deliver glowing youthful skin in around 30 minutes. A great treatment to be used on the face, neck, decollete and the backs of the hands. It prevents the signs of aging, improves skin texture and elasticity, and reduces pore size and stimulates collagen. We use this treatment for younger skin who wants to prevent aging, after someone gets a series of deeper treatments and wants to maintain their results or great to use in the summer if someone can stay out of the sun for just a weekend. This is usually done in a series of 6-12 treatments 0-1 day downtime

Fraxel Re:Store is a non-ablative erbium 1550 fractionated laser, providing effective, but gentle skin resurfacing treatment. It helps to target fine lines and wrinkles,dramatically improves acne scars, lighten and flatten surgical scars, sun spots, and helps lighten the pigmentation caused by melasma. Also stimulates collagen remodelingIt is good for any skin type, from dark to light, and can be used to remove dark spots on the chest, back, legs, and arms. Generally done in a series of 3-6 treatments, 1-3 days downtime.

Fraxel Re:Pair is a fractionated Erbium and CO2 ablative laser treatment that is one of the most aggressive treatments and reaches deeper layers of skin, this treatment is done by Dr Tehrani and reserved for more advanced signs of aging, sun damage and severe acne scarring. It treats pigmentation and sun damaged skin, deeper lines, moderate to severe wrinkles, crows feet, tightens crepey skin, and improves skin texture. This treatment is similar to the CO2 technology that we discussed but the doctor has a lot more control during the treatment and is much more targeted and precise. This treatment is generally used only on the face and because this is an ablative treatment, it is NOT recommended for darker skin types. With this treatment a patient generally needs only one session but with a longer downtime generally 5-7 days.

Laser Genesis, another gentle laser that uses 1064 laser technology that again bypasses the surface skin’s surface to gently heat and resurface the skin. It improves the appearance of large pores, decreases breakouts and oiliness and helps to reduce vellus hairs. The gentle heating of the laser constricts the blood vessels helping to eliminate overall redness and is gentle enough for rosacea.It improves skin texture all while stimulating collagen and leaves your skin glowing and smooth. This is the perfect treatment to do right before going to an event. A perfect treatment that is safe to use all skin types, skin colors and skin conditions.

This treatment is very comfortable and can be done on a monthly basis as a laser facial and has zero downtime.

BBL or Broad Band Light or sometimes called IPL, Impulsed Light uses a broad spectrum of light or wavelengths from 420 to 1200nm treating acne, pigment and redness from broken capillaries. The skin absorbs the light energy stimulating collagen producing and seeking out pigmented cells, sun damage under the skin and brings it up to the surface to help lighten the unwanted pigment and sun damage. It’s my go to treatment for those lighter skinned patients who spent years at the beach under the sun who have a lot of brown spots on their face and decollete. One treatment can dramatically improve the overall color and texture but is usually done in a series of 3-4 treatments. This treatment is safe on skin types up to 5 but not recommended for very dark skin. Down time is usually 3-5 days of pigment peeling if that’s what we are targeting otherwise 1-2 days of superficial redness.

Q Switch/pico lasers – uses a variety of wavelengths from 532 to 1064nm that uses quick vibrating pulses under the skin to seek out unwanted colors and shatter them into small particles that are eliminated through our immune system these lasers are generally used to remove tattoos. Black and green colors are the easiest to remove and colors that are mixed with white are harder to remove because white is not a color in the spectrum of light which means it will not be absorbed by the laser. This laser can also be used to remove deeper pigmented lesions from sun damage. The amount of sessions will vary depending on where on the body the tattoo is located, areas closer to heart need less treatments whereas tattoos on the limbs will need more sessions and will take longer to remove. These lasers also work on all skin colors but lower settings are generally used on very dark skin Fitzpatrick 6

This is not a full list but we have generally covered the vast majority. So as you can see for anyone who wants to try a laser treatment we have a plethora to choose from. If you would like to discuss your options I would love to schedule you for a free consultation.

Louisa Agate

Medspa Director

[email protected]

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