I love that we have so many different options when it comes to cosmetic beauty treatments for rejuvenating and reviving our skin from the damage caused by everyday sun damage, stress and the general aging process.
This article is going to focus on some of the most popular laser treatments and explain exactly what they do, how it’s done, and what the results are.
First, look at your skin and decide what you don’t like about it. Are there brown spots? Age spots? Wrinkles? Sagging or lax skin? Redness? Large pores? Skin tags? Moles? A combo of a few things is what most people have, and sometimes you can tackle more than one skin ailment by choosing an effective laser treatment.
As always, make sure that you choose someone who has been properly trained in the particular type of laser you want to do. Ask for multiple before and after pictures, and where your professional was trained. Some of these lasers are done in Medi-Spas, so it’s important to confirm that they have a doctor on site.
There are two types of lasers, ablative and non-ablative.
Ablative lasers vaporize the top layers of damaged skin, and non-ablative lasers work deeper in the skin without removing of damaging the top layers. This is why non-ablative lasers have less down time and are popular to do.
There are literally hundreds of variations and sub- categories of lasers with different brand names made by different companies. I am going to touch on the popular lasers that I have seen in practice in and around Beverly Hills; however I won’t be mentioning every laser on the market as there are so many.
IPL or Intense Pulsed Light:
Good for: brown/sun spots, redness.
IPL is a non-ablative light source that is attracted to pigment in the skin as in brown/sun spots, melasma or darkening of the skin, redness, and other irregular colors in the skin. It is a very popular procedure with little to no down time, depending on how the aggressive the treatment is done. Usually numbing crème is applied to the face for 30 minutes before, so it is not painful. Eye protection is placed over your eyes, as it is a bright light that is more startling at first than anything else. Sometimes it takes a few treatments to get the final result, and the brown spots will first get darker, and then will flake off. This laser used in combination with a skin lightening crème works well together.
Good for: tightening skin, shrinking pore size, redness, rejuvenating skin.
Fraxel is a non-ablative laser that resurfaces your face with microscopic punctures that results in new collagen formation and stimulation. It’s fractionated, meaning that the energy is delivered not all at one time on your face. Numbing crème is applied for an hour on the skin, and although it will feel warm, it is a tolerable procedure. Usually a series of 4 to 5 treatments are suggested, because the Fraxel will only cover 25% of your face at one treatment, which is why the downtime is minimal and it is not as painful as if you were having 100% of the face done at once. There is some redness and swelling afterwards that looks like sunburn, but I always was able to go to work the next day. The skin will flake off after 3 days… it does not peel off in sheets.
A retinoid product started about 2 weeks after Fraxel works well with this.
Pixel: Same concept as Fraxel, the energy is delivered through a fractionated hand piece so that the down time is minimal. Pixel laser is made by a different company than Fraxel.
Good for: fine lines around eyes, mouth, crepey skin, skin tightening and light brown spots, rejuvenating.
This is a fractionated C02 ablative laser that can be done with numbing crème as well. Some patients opt to have sedation (or a valium) with this as it is a deeper laser and can be more uncomfortable. C02 lasers basically remove the upper layer of the skin, but since this is fractionated, and delivered not at once on the face, the downtime is considerably less. There is redness and swelling involved, and it usually takes about a week to resolve.
Good for: deeper lines around the mouth, face, skin tightening, are rejuvenating.
This is a deeper version of the Active FX. This is great for deeper lines that may not be as responsive to the Fraxel of lighter lasers. Patients usually do this one with sedation as it does go deeper into your skin! There is redness and swelling, so if you have an event you are planning for, I would do this a minimum of 2 weeks before.
Good for: severe sun damage, deep lines, leather like skin, sun spots, skin tags.
This is an ablative laser, meaning that it removes (vaporizes) the top part (the epidermis) and all the skin damage right along with it. It is essentially like a burn, and is done under anesthesia by a physician. This laser only has to be done once, as it treats 100% of your face all at once. This is great if you have a lot of skin damage and can take 2 weeks off to heal. There is redness, swelling, and yes, your skin will come off in sheets.
Good for: fine lines, moderate wrinkles, skin tightening.
The Erbium laser is done by using short pulses of infrared energy. It is not fractionated, not ablative, and also not as invasive as the C02 laser is. It’s also done using numbing crème, and the down time is about a week of redness.
Skin Tightening: Accent, Titan, Re-Firme.
Good for: Beginning of jowls around the jaw line, temples, cheeks, skin tightening.
The skin tightening lasers are not beams of light like lasers directed at lines or redness. These deliver infrared heat to the deeper layers of the face and stimulate contraction or tightening of the tissue, which results in tighter looking skin right away. A series of treatments is recommended, and it just feels warm when it is being done. Over time, the skin will have more tone and minimal sagging will be improved.
Lamprobe: (one of my favs!)
Good for: skin tags, small bumps (milia) red cherry spots, clogged pores.
The Lamprobe is a small device that is used by high radiofrequency and zaps off any small skin tags or small marks on your face. (Note: if you have any suspicious looking moles always go to a Dermatologist and have it removed and biopsied by them.) Lamprobe works really well on small broken vessels around the nose, and small red cherry marks.
This is a basic outline of some of the most popular lasers that are being done. They all have awesome results if done correctly by the professional you choose and the post care instructions given to you are followed correctly. Do your research online and ask questions to find out which treatment is the best one for you.