Lasers and Light 101

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face-neck skin tighteningEver get overwhelmed by all the various laser options available to you? You aren’t alone! No matter what your issues are, for the most part, there is a laser solution for you! Maybe it’s broken capillaries on the side of your nose that bother you, or one too many tanning sessions have left you with brown spots and hyper pigmentation. Let us break it down for you, quite simply, what may work best for you depending on your concern.

Hair on the face and body

Solution: Laser Hair Removal with the Alexandrite or YAG.

Who it works best for: fair and dark skin tones with coarse, dark hair.

How it works: laser light is directed at the root of the hair follicle, heating it up and destroying the blood supply so it won’t produce another hair. It only works on the actively growing hair (about 10% each time), so you’ll need multiple treatments. Hair is permanently reduced in treated areas.

How many treatments recommended: 6 sessions minimum.

Discomfort: tolerable, though some areas may benefit from an anesthetic numbing cream.

Outcome: 60-80% reduction after 6 sessions, additional treatments may be needed to achieve further reduction.

Preparation: shave the area, no sun on the area 2-4 weeks prior.

When to go: Fall and Winter months when your skin doesn’t see the sun.

Recovery time: none

How long it lasts: Hair reduction is permanent, but may require follow up sessions if hormones change, or inactive follicles become active in later years.

Broken Capillaries or Spider Veins

Solution: YAG laser for vessel reduction

Who it works best for: men and women who have broken capillaries on the nose and face, or spider veins on the legs that have a blue or green tint.

How it works: laser light is directed at the hemolglobin, or red blood cells, which cauterizes the vessel, and the body re-absorbs it, eliminating the offending vessels.

How many treatments recommended: 3 minimum.

Discomfort: tolerable, feels like a slight pinch, no numbing required.

Preparation: cleanse the area prior to treatment, no harsh topicals 1 week prior.

When to go: Season doesn’t matter, as long as the area isn’t exposed to regular sun.

Recovery time: Depends on area. Face can remain red for an hour, while larger vessels on legs may incur bruising.

How long it lasts: Treatment can be successful for 1+ year, but may require follow up visits in future.

First signs of aging to moderate wrinkles

Solution: YAG laser for Skin Tightening

Who it works best for: Men and women of any skin tone can get this treatment. Whether you are looking to prevent aging, or correct moderate wrinkling, anyone can benefit from this treatment.

How it works: The laser light from the YAG is targeting the water in the skin, which produces a thermal injury deep in the dermis. This causes the body to respond by creating more collagen, which firms and plumps the skin.

How many treatments recommended: 3 treatments minimum.

Discomfort: can feel intensely hot, many patients benefit from an anesthetic numbing cream (recommended).

Preparation: cleanse area, no harsh topicals 1 week prior.

When to go: Anytime as long as area isn’t exposed to sun.

Recovery time: none.

How long it lasts: Intrinsic aging will happen regardless, so results will need to be maintained yearly.

Active Acne

Solution: Smoothbeam Laser

How it works: Laser wavelength is directed to the sebaceous gland. The heat of the laser kills the bacteria in the gland, while simultaneously shrinking it so it produces less oil. Acne is reduced, skin is less oily.

Who it works best for: Patients with mild to moderate acne and cystic acne (stage 1-3) of any skin tone.

How many treatments: 6 minimum.

Discomfort: stinging heat, anesthetic numbing recommended.

Preparation: cleanse area thoroughly, no harsh topicals 1 week prior.

When to go: Anytime as long as area doesn’t see regular sun.

Recovery time: none to mild redness which fades in 2 hours.

How long it lasts: Can put acne into remission for up to 18 months, but may require follow up sessions.

Acne Scarring or Unevenly Textured Skin

Solution: E-Matrix Sublative Fractional Radio Frequency

Who it works best for: men and women of any skin tone can get treated with this device.

How it works: Radio Frequency (RF) is delivered into the skin via a bi-polar applicator. The RF heats up the water in the skin, inciting a healing response which produces collagen. Microscopic treatment zones help to increase product absorption temporarily.  Improves texture, tightness and tone.

How many treatments: 3 minimum

Discomfort: tolerable heat

When to go: Anytime, as long as skin isn’t in the sun.

Recovery: 3-7 days depending on setting used. Skin could be red and swollen and then will turn to a sandpaper-like texture until it sloughs off.

Preparation: be well hydrated, cleanse skin thoroughly.

How long it lasts: results are long lasting, but intrinsic aging may require follow up visits as collagen is lost over time. Over all skin texture improvement is permanent.

Rosacea and Hyperpigmentation

Solution: Elos IPL (Intense Pulsed Light)

Who it works best for: Fair skinned clients (Fitzpatrick 1-3).

How it works: An array of light wavelengths can be directed at either hemoglobin or melanin in the skin. Can reduce a ruddy or rosacea skin tone, as well as minimize freckles or sun damage.

How many treatments: 3 minimum.

Discomfort: the cool tip offsets the heat, minimal discomfort.

When to go: Only when your skin isn’t in the sun.

Recovery: minimal down time- redness for up to 2 hours, if receiving pigmentation treatment, spots can be darker for up to 5 days.

Preparation: no harsh topicals 7 days before, cleansed skin.

How long it lasts: for pigmentation treatment, continued exposure to the sun will mean repeating treatments, so its best to refrain from any sun exposure. Facial capillaries and redness can come back, may require treatments yearly.

As you can see, there is a common theme with preparation- stay out of the sun, don’t use harsh topicals prior to treatment, come in with clean skin, and another major one we need to add, which is you must be off of any topical or oral antibiotics for 2 weeks prior. It is also important that there be no exposure to sun both before and after the treatment (normal walking around okay, but no sun bathing).

There are treatment options available for a wide variety of skin issues, and most of them are very tolerable in the discomfort department and require very little to no downtime!

Have you ever had any of the above treatments?

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