What Laser Do I Need?
In our ever-changing world of facial beauty where do lasers fit in? There are several types and how does the patient/consumer know the ins and outs of the choices presented. Well, first, you must have a consultation with a qualified healthcare professional. Let me say it again, do not decide what you need without a professional consultation. We are able to narrow the myriad of laser options to ones that will best fit the goal trying to be achieved.
There are several types of lasers: IPL, ablative/resurfacing, Q-switch, 810 Diodes, etc. For the purpose of this blog we will cover the three most popular. Let’s start with our biggest gun: the CO2 ablative laser. Ablative means simply, burning skin. We burn the skin in order to make it slough off. This resurfaces the skin in order to help with fine lines and wrinkles, sun/age spots, texture and tone of the skin, and overall brightness. CO2 is the deepest resurfacing we are able to achieve. Downtime for this laser is up to 14 days with approximately 3 months of pinkness. During the 14 acute days there is a strict post-op regimen that changes depending on the provider and the facility and must be followed to ensure best outcome. This regimen can include vinegar soaking, washing the face multiple times a day, ensuring no sun exposure to the newly resurfaced skin, and follow up appointments as set forth by the provider. After this 14-day acute phase, the patient can expect to be pink for 3 months’ time while the new skin heals. This is easily covered and masked by makeup, tinted sunscreen, or a tinted moisturizer.
There are both CO2 and Erbium Yag laser in our facility. Both resurface the skin in order to treat the above-mentioned needs. Erbium Yag is another resurfacing/ablative laser. It is a very close cousin to the CO2. They work in the same manner by burning the skin, but the Erbium Yag is more superficial, meaning it does not hit the deeper layers of skin like the CO2 can. This means, the consumer will need a series of Erbium Yag lasers in order to achieve the result of one CO2. The downtime is a bit different as well. With the Erbium Yag there are no vinegar soaks and no washing the face 5 times a day. With the Erbium Yag the face is washed only morning and night with a gentle cleanser. Soothing products are placed on the face to help the healing process begin. At my current facility we use Neocutis Aftercare and Hyalis for the first week to promote healing. The patient is red and pink for the first two days, then at day three the skin is dry and flakey and by day 7 there is complete healing and recovery from the laser.
Switching gears to IPL lasering. This type of laser is associated with pigmentation. It uses intense pulse light that is filtered in order to target different pigments of the skin. This light targets the cells that produce pigment and tells them to stop. These are mostly red and brown. There is very little to no downtime associated with this laser. The consumer can expect to be very mildly red/pink when leaving the office, but that dissipates in the hours following the laser. This laser is better performed in a series, due to its layered effect. The more times the pigment producing cells sees the intense pulse light, the less the cell creates the pigment being targeted.
Laser Hair Removal
Finally, laser hair removal gained popularity about 20 years ago and has stayed strong ever since. The life cycle of hair is 14 days, so there may be regrowth of the hair after the treatment. This laser is always performed in a series of 6 or more. The more hair, the more treatments the patient will need. With hair removal, practitioners are using the laser to target the hair follicle. This tells the follicle to stop producing hair. A big misconception with this treatment is the regrowth of hair. This laser does not completely stop hair from growing. It thins hair and stops the abundance of it, but does not completely stop it from growing. It should be renamed to permanent reduction.
Needless to say, there are many lasers to choose from in the aesthetic realm. Make sure, as the consumer and patient, that there is a consultation process and that you feel safe and secure with your provider. Those two things, as minute and small as they seem, will ensure a good outcome for you.
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