Posts Tagged ‘Laser’
If you are considering laser hair removal, you should know how many treatments you will truly need, and what type of a financial investment you will be making. I want to explain how many treatments you may need and why, so that you can make a more informed decision before you invest in laser hair removal.
I have people come in to our clinic after they have had a series of laser hair removal treatments at another clinic, and they are disappointed because they think it didn’t work. The problem is that many laser technicians will over promise and under deliver. The common misconception is that you will only need (let’s say 5) treatments. I don’t care what “they” tell you, this is almost never true! Don’t be surprised if you are told that “they” have the most effective laser on the planet and they can give you better results with only a few treatments. Maybe you will be told that you are perfect candidate, so you will need less than other people. If you buy this, I have a bridge to sell you. I do think that some technologies are more effective than others, however, even with the best technique and most effective equipment, you will still need several treatments. Even if you are the most ideal candidate in the entire world, you will still need several treatments.
Growth Cycle of Hair
Hair follicles go through a cycle of activity commonly refered to as the hair growth cycle. Each active hair follicle will continuously cycle through three phase of growth ( anagen, catagen and telogen). It is also important to understand that each hair follicle acts independently, so not all of the hair is in the same stage of growth at the same time. This is why it is necessary to have a series of laser hair removal treatments, scheduled at specific intervals.
Anagen Stage- Active Growing Stage
Catagen Stage – A Brief Transitional Stage
Telogen Stage – Resting Stage ( hair sheds at end of telogen stage)
With laser hair removal we are most concerned with hair in the anagen stage, because this is when the hair is at it’s maximum depth. The laser energy is absorbed by the melanin or water in the hair and we need to deliver the energy to the maximum depth of the follicle. This means that hair in the catagen or telogen stages of growth may singe and fall out with treatment, but they are not at thier maximum size or depth so they will likely grow back. So…. to reiterate, hair that is in the anagen stage of growth responds the best to laser hair removal.
The length of each cycle will depend on the region of the body, it will also vary from person-to-person and from time-to- time. Unfortunatly, in most areas the number of telogen hairs out number the amount of anagen hairs. For example the axillae (under arm) area is estimated to have about 70% of the hair in a telogen stage and the telogen stage in this area typically lasts for about 3 months. Again, this is not an exact science because there are several variables with the growth of hair and each idividual hair acts indepentaly. This means that the best you can hope for in this area is about 20% reduction per treatment and if by some sort of miracle your personal cycle of hair growth corasponds perfectly with your scheduled treatments you can complete your hair removal process with 5 treatments. However… you probably have a better chance of getting struck by lightining.
We all are born with a certain amount of hair follicals which do not increase with age, however the activity of the follicles do increase. We all have many, many potential hair follicles. Potential follicals are dormant hair follicles that are not active (currently producing a hair), but have the ability to produce a hair if stimulated by the appropriate hormone. Trust me when I tell you that you will likely see new hairs pop up in areas that you have never had them before. This is important to understand because laser hair removal only effects hair follicles that have a hair in the follicle at the time of treatment. Laser hair removal treatments can not prevent potential follicals from having the ability to produce a hair in the future. This is another reason that everyone needs to plan on having maintanance treatments after the intial series of treatments.
How Many Hair Removal Treatments Will I Need?
An initial series of treatments are necessary and occasional maintenance treatments are almost always needed after the initial series. For facial areas, you should expect to do an initial series of 12 treatments (once a month for a year). For body areas, you should expect to do an initial series of 8 treatments (scheduled about 6-8 weeks apart over a year).
There is no way to predict exactly how many maintenance treatments you will need. Some people need one every year or so, while others require several treatments for several years. This is due mostly to genetics and hormones, however other factors include technique, technology, and patient compliance. There are some things you can do to help improve your results. Keep your treatments on the appropriate schedule, avoid tanning, search for an experienced laser technician and a reputable clinic that is known to use better equipment. Do not wax, tweeze, or remove the hair from the follicle before or between treatments. If you have excessive hair growth, you should consult with your doctor to address any medial conditions that may contribute to hair growth.
Questions you should ask before you pay
Who will be performing your treatment?
Will you always see the same person or will you have somebody new each time? Do they have the appropriate certification and training, how long have they been doing laser hair removal and how long have they been at that specific clinic ?
Who is the medical director?
Are you having treatment in a medical practice or a med spa ? What are the credentials of the medical director ? Is it a Nurse, Dermatologist, Plastic Surgeon, Chiropractor, Dentist, Veterinarian? Is the medical director on site? How often are they in the office and are they available to see you if you experience a complication?
What is available for pain management?
Yes, laser hair removal hurts. The good news is that we can do things to help. Usually, we will apply a topical numbing cream before treatment, and in our clinic we use a proprietary formula that is extremely effective. I have a few other tricks that I will not share.
How much will it cost?
Many med spas have tricky packages or “plans”. Find out how many treatments are included in your package and how you are expected to pay. Do you need to pay for a full package all up front, or can you make payments? How much will additional treatments cost after your initial series? Is there a discount? Do you need to buy another package or can you pay as you go? If you are offered some sort of contract or membership, be careful, and be sure to read between the lines! You should also be warned that it is not uncommon for a med-spa to go out of business, and not tell clients or employees. You may show up one day with the doors locked, and, if you prepaid for a package, you can kiss your money good-bye.
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Rosacea is primarily a facial vascular disorder in which blood vessels are functionally and structurally abnormal. Currently rosacea can’t be cured, however it can be effectively treated and controlled. Rosacea is a progressive skin disorder, that should be treated when symptoms first begin. Treatment should be aimed at treating the underlying vascular issues associated with rosacea. Vascular Lasers and IPL treatments are extremely effective at treating existing redness and broken blood vessels. In addition to avoiding rosacea triggers, topical products can be used to prevent flushing and further damage that can accelerate the progression of the disorder.
[Rosacea 101: Understanding Rosacea and it’s triggers]
Laser and IPL Therapy
Both Laser and IPL therapy are very effective at treating telangiectasia (broken blood vessels), generalized redness and flushing. IPL therapy can also be enhanced with Levulan to get the added benefit of treating acne, rosacea papules and pustuals.
Lasers that are absorbed well by hemoglobin are used to treat vascular concerns. The laser energy is absorbed by the blood vessel and creates heat within the vessel which damages the vessel wall and permenatly closes that vessel. The treated vessels are then absorbed by the body. Although there isn’t a cure for rosacea, studies show that laser treatment can permantly remove damaged facial blood vessels and with repeated treatment blood vessels will not always be created to replace the old vessel. Facial blood vessels treated with lasers are sometimes replaced with connective tissue. This is good news, because this will permently reduce the number of blood vessels in the face, near to the level of vessels found in healthy skin.
Lasers have a single wavelength that work at a very specific depth. So any idividual laser has it’s limitations. KTP 532 nm and Pulsed Dye: 577 -585nm lasers are well absorbed by hemoglobin and are very effective at treating superfical blood vessels in the face, while Nd:YAG 1064nm lasers are also well absorbed by hemoglobin, they are effective at treating vessels that are located deeper in the skin.
[ Lasers 101: Learn more about aesthetic lasers]
Intese Pulsed Light (IPL)
IPL skin treatments are known by many names including Fotofacial, Photofacial, Photoderm and Photo rejuvenation. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) differs from lasers because IPL uses a wide spectrum of wavelengths at the same time (for example: 500nm — 1200nm) that can target any chromophore in that range, while lasers have a single wavelength. You can think of the laser like a sniper that can precisely hit a single target with one shot, and IPL is like a grenade that hits several targets at once. IPL uses special cut-off filters that can be selected to target chromophors in a certain range within the skin. When treating rosacea or any vascular concern, the intended target is hemoglobin. The advantage IPL treatments have over laser treatments is that IPL can target vessels at different depths.
[ Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) 101: Learn more about IPL treatments]
Combined Laser and IPL Therapy
Best results are achieved when you combine IPL and Laser treatments. IPL and Laser treatments can be done independently, however combining technologies at the same treatment time will provide a better result. This type of treatment is fairly aggressive and should only be done by someone that is very experienced in combining these technologies.
Oral and Topical Products
Topical Metronidazole Gel
Metronidazole is topical agent used to treat rosacea, available only by prescription. The primary action of Metronidazole is anti-inflamatory. Metronidazole is effective at reducing papules and pustules and has a fairly minimal effect at reducing inflammation. Unfortunately, it isn’t effective for treating broken blood vessels or flushing.
Antibiotics have long been used to treat rosacea, however they work primarily through their anti-inflammatory properties rather than antibacterial. Antibiotics are effective at reducing papules, pustules, and inflammation. The limitation with antibiotics is that they are not effective at treating telangiectasia or flushing.
Antihistamines are effective at reducing facial inflammation, swelling and burning associated with rosacea. Histamine contributes to swelling, itching and burning. Histamine has also been shown to play a role in inflammation and redness.
Sunblock with Zinc Oxide
UV rays can penetrate the skin and activate sensory nerves that release potent vasodilators, as well as creating heat in the skin causing facial flushing. Zinc oxide reflects both UVA and UVB rays, blocking out heat from the sun. Topical zinc oxide also has significant healing properties when applied to damaged skin and has been shown to decrease inflammation in both the epidermis and dermis.
Dimethicone is a silicone based ingredient with moisturizing ability. Dimethicone is also a protective ingredient that has been shown to reduce flushing caused by skin irritants.
Free radicals have been shown to cause structural damage to vascular walls and many free radicals are potent blood vessel dilators. Dietary and topical antioxidants help to block the damaging effects of free radicals.
Studies show that vitamin C can protect blood vessel walls from free radical damage and reverse existing vascular damage. People with rosacea should get plenty of vitamin-C in their diet, and may want to consider a vitamin-C supplement. In addition to being a great antioxidant, topical vitamin-C has anti-inflammatory qualities.
*This post is intended for informational purposes only.
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Radio frequency is not the same as laser, however it is often used in conjunction with laser treatments in a clinical setting. Radio frequency (RF) usually refers to oscillations in electrical circuits. Aesthetic treatments use non-ablative (RF) energy in short intense pulses that oscillate through the skin to heat targeted tissue. Radio frequency (RF) is often used to tighten the skin. The (RF) energy penetrates the skin and stimulates the contraction of collagen and the production of new collagen for skin tightening.
[ Read more about Laser technology ]
Radio frequency devices use a variety of delivery systems and penatrate to varying depths. Radio frequency can be monopolar or bipolar. Bipolar devices are often combined with other types of technology such as infrared light.
Monopolar vs Bipolar
For the purpose of aesthetic treatments Monopolar radiofrequency is delivered by applying a single electrode to the treated area and an opposing electrode that is relatively far removed so that the current goes deeply through the body. Unipolar (RF) penetrates deeper and more intensely than bipolar( RF). Thermage uses monopolar radiofrequency (RF) energy to tighten and contour skin.
For the purpose of aesthetic treatments bipolar radiofrequency is delivered by applying two closely positioned electrodes to the treated area. The electric current travels from one electrode through the tissue and back up to the other electrode, the current that goes between the electrodes is small and shallow. As a result, the tissue in the treated area is heated less deeply and less intensely than monopolar (RF). In aesthetic treatments bipolar RF is usually combined with light or energy based sources, including lasers, intense pulsed light, infrared light, or vacuum assisted. Infrared light heats the tissue down to the deep dermis and acts to “pre-heat” tissue, for improved (RF) penatration.
Bipolar Radiofrequency used with Laser and IPL
Unlike laser and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) energy, radio frequency is not absorbed by a specific chromophore. When RF is combined with other energy sources such as lasers and IPL, the laser or IPL energy will be absorbed by the targeted chromophore (melanin or hemoglobin), resulting in an increased temperature in the target areas. The increases in tempeture lowers the tissue impedance to those areas and the RF energy will stream preferentially to the warmer areas with lowered impedance. Elōs is the first and only technology that simultaneously harnesses the power of bi-polar radio frequency (RF) and optical energy.
The ReFirme™ ST procedure combines safe and effective levels of infrared light and bipolar radiofrequency energies to remodel the dermal layer of the skin by stimulating new collagen growth.
Bipolar Radiofrequency(RF) used with Suction
Bipolar radiofrequency can also be combined with negative pressure ( suction), to help improve and control the absorption of the RF energy. The tissue is suctioned into the hand-piece and the RF energy passes through. The Aluma uses a vacuum-assisted and bipolar radio-frequency (RF) handpiece for skin tightening methods.
VelaShape uses a combination of Infrared light, bi-polar radio frequency (RF) and negative pressure (suction) to heat deep adipose (fat) tissue. Infrared light, tissue mobilization, and suction, all work synergistically with RF to reduce cellulite.
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Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is used in photo-rejuvenation for the skin and hair removal treatments. Broad Band Light (BBL) is essentially the same thing as IPL and is used in the same way. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is not actually a laser. IPL emits a non coherent, broad spectrum light, rather than a monochromatic single wavelength like a laser. Basically lasers have one wavelength ( for example: 800nm) with a very specific target, and IPL uses a wide spectrum of wavelengths at the same time (for example: 500nm — 1200nm) that can target any chromophore in that range. You can think of the laser like a sniper that can precisely hit a single target with one shot, and IPL is like a grenade that hits several targets at once.
IPL uses special filters that block unwanted wavelengths. The filters can be changed to “cut off” the shorter wavelengths. The appropriate filter will depend on the depth of the intended target.
The cut off for the wavelength at the deeper end is predetermined, but can vary with each devise.
For example: Lumenis One has a wavelength of 515 – 1200nm,
and has 7 filters: 515, 560, 590,615, 640,695, and 755.
The 515 filter would block out wavelengths above and below 515nm – 1200nm, while the 560 filter would block out wavelengths above and below 560 -1200nm. The deeper wavelength, in this case 1200nm remains the same, while the “cut-off” filter can be changed to block out specific shorter wavelengths.
Each devises may use different wavelengths.
Sciton BBl: 420 -1400nm
Lumenis One: 515-1200nm
iPulse 1200: 530 – 1200nm
LimeLight: 520 – 1100nm
Cynergy XPL: 560 -950nm
[ Read more about Aesthetic Lasers ]
IPL is well absorbed by chromophores that have color such as melanin, hemoglobin. The concentration of a specific chromophore peaks at different depths in the skin. The filter used in treatment is decided based on the depth of a desired target and the color of skin. A deeper cut off filter would be used for hair removal, while a shallow filter would be used when treating vascular issues such as rosacea. It is important to remember that IPL targets color in the skin, so tanning must be avoided before treatment. Patients with darker skin should seek treatment from someone experienced in treating their skin type, to avoid complications. IPL treatments can provide beautiful results, but can also cause serious burns. It is the patients responsibility to choose an experienced professional, be honest about sun exposure and follow all pre and post treatment instructions.
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There are many variables involved in aesthetic lasers, including the active laser medium, wavelength, and targeted chromophore. Aesthetic lasers can be ablative, non-ablative or fractional. There are also other (non-laser) technology based treatments used in aesthetics such as Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Radio Frequency (RF).
The term “laser” originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A laser generates a beam of very intense light. The light emitted by a laser is monochromatic, coherent and collimated.
Monochromatic – the light is of a single wavelength
Coherent - the light beam waves are in the same phase
Collimated - the light beams travel in parallel, all are parallel to each other.
Active Laser Medium Types
The lasing medium is the source of optical gain within a laser. The Active Lasers Medium can be a solid crystal, liquid dye, gas, or semiconductors.
Carbon dioxide (Co2) are gas lasers that are commonly used in aesthetic treatments.
Solid State Lasers
Generally, the active medium of a solid-state laser consists of a glass or crystalline material.
Solid state lasers include Ruby, Aexandrite and Erbium.
Semiconductor-based lasers are also in the solid state, but are considered as a separate class. Diode is a semiconductor based laser used in aesthetic treatments.
A dye laser is a laser which uses an organic dye as the lasing medium. A dye can usually be used for a much wider range of wavelengths which makes them suitable pulsed lasers. Pulsed Dye Lasers are used in aesthetic treatment.
Electromagnetic spectrum is the range of all possible wavelengths and frequencies. Wavelength is the distance over which the wave’s shape repeats ( peak to peak).Wavelenghths are measured in micrometers (microns) and nanometers (nm) Frequency is the number of oscillations per second, measured in hertz.
Energy is the amount of joules (J/cm) delivered. A laser technician adjusts the energy of each treatment, based on factors such as skin type and condition. The laser technician can also control other factors such as spot size and the length and duration of the pulse.
Lasers used in aesthetic treatments target a specific chromophore generally melanin, hemoglobin or water in the tissue. The targeted chromophore is determined by the wavelength. The concentration of a specific chromophore peaks at different depths in the skin. For example hemoglobin in the blood is best absorbed at a shallow wavelength and water is best absorbed at deep wavelengths. Melanin is best absorbed somewhere in the middle (500nm-1064nm), the exact depth can vary, depending on the desired target. For example if you are targeting pigment in the hair follicle a deeper wavelength (640nm-1064nm) would be used, however most lasers used for hair removal are Diodes (800nm-900nm).
Melanin and hemoglobin in blood vessels have color that absorbs the light emitted by specific lasers. Lasers that target color are usually used for hair removal, treating vascular issues such as rosacea and broken blood vessels, and skin discolorations such as freckels. Tanning is contraindicated with laser treatments that target color, tan skin will absorb more heat, increasing the probability of a burn. Tanning can also interfer with the desired results of treatment, because there is less contrast between the intended target and the surrounding tissue. Lasers that are used for hair removal target the color in the hair, so grey or blond hair will not respond well. (There are some lasers that claim to treat grey or light hair).
Water constitutes 80% or more of soft tissue, so lasers that target water are generly used for resurfacing. Lasers with deep wavelenghts such as Co2 or erbium lasers are strongly absorbed by water. The Smoothbeam laser is a 1450nm diode laser that targets water in the skin and is used to treat acne by shrinking the oil gland.
Argon 488 and 515 nm, is a gas laser that emits a blue green light which is strongly absorbed by both hemoglobin and water,used for photocoagulation. Argon lasers are rarely used for aesthetic or dermatologic treatments.
KTP 532 nm, a brilliant green light well absorbed by hemoglobin and melanin used photoablation and photocoagulation. The Iredex DioLite 532 nm KTP that is Diode Pumped, it is used to treat vascular lesions and hyperpigmentation.
Pulsed Dye: 577 -585nm, a yellow light that is well absorbed by hemoglobin in blood. Pulsed Dye Lasers (PDL) are especially useful for the treatment of vascular lesions, including spider veins, strawberry birthmarks and port wine stains.
Ruby 694 nm, uses a synthetic ruby crystal that emits red light that is strongly absorbed by blue and black pigment, and by melanin in skin and hair.
Ruby lasers are used for laser hair removal, tattoo removal and treating pigmented lesions including freckles, liver spots.
Alexandrite Laser 755nm, emits a deep red light and is absorbed by melanin. Alexandrite permits deeper penetration into skin than the ruby, and is used for Laser Hair Reduction.
Diode 800-900nm, emit near-infrared light. Diodes in the 800-900 nm range are absorbed by melanin and used for laser hair removal. The Smoothbeam uses a diode with a 1450nm, it targets water in the skin and is used to treat acne and build collagen.
Nd:YAG 1064nm, laser emits a near infrared beam that can be absorbed by all tissue chromophores, however it is strongly absorbed by hemoglobin. Nd:YAG lasers are used for photocoagulation and photoablation, commonly used to treat broken blood vessels.
Er:YAG 2940nm, emits a mid-infrared beam which has an absorption peak for water. Its used is to ablate tissue for cosmetic laser resurfacing. Also known as Erbium.
CO2 10,600nm, is a gas laser emitting a mid infrared beam which is strongly absorbed by water. Co2 lasers are capable of cutting or vaporizing tissue, and are used for deep laser resurfacing.
Ablative, Non-ablative an Fractional
Non-ablative lasers heat the layers of skin beneath the surface without removing the epidermis (top layer of skin).
Ablative procedures remove the epidermis. Carbon dioxide and Erbium lasers are ablative lasers used in aesthetic treatments. Ablative laser treatments are used for resurfacing, and leave skin raw.
Fractional lasers can be ablative or non-ablative treatments, and target only a fraction of skin at a time, leaving the surrounding tissue intact.
[ Read more on Fractional lasers ]
Some of the lasers used in aesthetic treatments:
Iredex DioLite – 532 nm KTP Diode Pumped – Non-Ablative
Candela Vbeam – 595nm Pulsed dye laser (PDL) – Non-Ablative
Candela GentleLASE – 755 nm Alexandrite – Non-Ablative
Lumenis LightSheer – 800nm Diode – Non-Ablative
Syneron eLaser / Comet – 810nm diode laser ( with RF) – Non-Ablative
Syneron Matrix IR – 915nm diode (with RF )- Non-Ablative/Fractional
Sciton Profile – Nd:YAG 1064 nm – Non-Ablative
Lumenis Multi-Spot – 1064 Nd:YAG – Non-Ablative
Candela GentleYAG – 1064nm Nd:YAG – Non-Ablative
Fraxel re:fine – 1410nm Erbium – Non-Ablative/Fractional
Cynosure Affirm – Nd:Yag 1440nm – Non-Ablative/Fractional
Candela Smoothbeam – 1450 nm diode laser – Non-Ablative
Fraxel re:store – 1500nm Erbium laser – Non-Ablative/ Fractional
Sciton Profile -2940nm Er:YAG – Ablative /(additional attachment to Profile base)
Sciton ProFractional – 2940 Er:YAG – Ablative/Fractional
Lumenis UltraPulse – 10,600nm Co2 – Ablative/ Fractional
Fraxel re:pair – 10,600nm Co2 laser – Ablative/ Fractional
Sometimes a little information can be a dangerous thing.
This is intended to help provide some very basic information of cosmetic / aesthetic lasers. There are many factors involved with laser aesthetic treatments and not everything can be included in this post. Aesthetic laser treatments can be complicated and should only be performed by a qualified and experienced technician.
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There are many people that have embraced their freckles and love them, while others would prefer spotless skin.
Freckles are clusters of concentrated melanin, ranging in color from red, tan and brown. Some people have a genetic tendency to develop freckles, however sun exposure is the main cause of freckles. Freckles generally appear on sun-exposed areas, and will appear darker or more prominent after sun exposure. Ephelides is a freckle which is flat, light brown or red, and fades when protected from UV light. Ephelides are more common in those with light complexions. Liver spots (also known as sun spots and Lentigines) are freckles that develop after years of sun exposure, and are more prominent with age.
If You Want To Remove Freckles
The best way to remove freckles is to have a series of photofacial treatments, combined with bleaching creams containing 4% hydroquinone and tretinoin (Retin-A). A good UVA/UVB sunblock is also recommended, because UV exposure will make freckles more prominent.
Photafacial (Fotofacial) uses IPL (Intense Pulse Light) to treat skin discoloration, redness and broken capillaries. There generally isn’t any down time associated with IPL treatments, however pigmented spots will appear darker temporarily. After a photofacial any freckles or pigmented lesions will darken up and flake off. It can take up to two weeks for spots to flake off. The number of treatments needed will vary depending on the skin condition.
If You Like Your Freckles
If you are not concerned with removing freckles you can use lightening and brightening products. These products brighten the skin without removing freckles. Freckles will fade slightly, but will not go away.
OBAGI C-RX System
If you love your freckles, you may want to skip the Therapy Night Cream from this system. The Therapy Night cream has a 4% hydroquinone, which will further fade freckles and pigmentation. The Clarifying Serum also has a 4% hydroquinone, however this C- serum is only used in the morning and is not enough to eliminate freckles. The Clarifying Serum is great for anyone that wants brighten their skin tone, and still keep their freckles.
iS Clinical White Lightening Complex
Brightens and lightens skin with beneficial moisturizing properties. Utilizing an innovative blend of proprietary lightening ingredients and pharmaceutical-grade botanicals, this high performance formula exfoliates, reduces inflammation, and provides strong antioxidant protection.
White Lightening Complex will brighten the skin, and freckles will fade, but not go away completely.
To prevent freckles, you need to use a good sunblock. I recommend a UVA/ UVB sunblock with an SPF 30 or higher. I also recommend sunblocks with Zinc, because it is a broad band physical block. SPF only measure UVB protection, and even if a product is labeled to have UVA protection, it may not protect from the full UVA spectrum. Topical Vitamin C ( L- ascorbic acid) can also help prevent sun damage because it neutralizes UV radiation.
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Cosmetic Laser Warning!
What you need to know before choosing to do a cosmetic procedure.
On one complaint website, there were 1,437 complaints regarding laser treatments and over 600 for one specific laser center. If you decide to go to a laser center based on their social media following or because you are looking for a low cost, you are taking a gamble. Some clinics hire inexperienced, even unqualified technicians to do treatment and rarely have a Doctor on site. A clinic may have a “medical director” on staff whom acts as a medical director for several locations. A med spa with a medical director on staff does not mean it is the medical practice of that person, in fact the medical director may never actually be in the clinic. I have even heard of cases where the “medical directer” was in another state. Med Spas often set sales quota’s for employees, so technicians are pressured to rush treatments. I call this type of practice ” turn em’ & burn em’ “. I don’t blame the technicians, it’s just a poor way to do business. These types of laser centers usually have a very high employee turn over rate and many unhappy customers.
Increasing popularity for Laser, IPL and RF treatments has lead to an increase of treatment complications. A poorly done laser treatment can lead to burns, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, ocular injury, scars and a simple lack of results. Most complications are preventable and all are manageable. The increase in complications is primarily due to lack of training, experience, and medical supervision. It is important to know that it is not just the technology, it is also the technique that determines the result of a treatment. Cosmetic and laser treatments can be complicated and are best done by an experienced technician. Laser and IPL treatments all come with some inherent risk, which you should understand and except before you consent to treatment. Burns and other side effects can result even when treatment is performed by the best and most experienced laser technicians.
With all the new products and technology available today it is easy to be confused, when choosing a treatment. Laser, IPL, LED, Infrared, Radiofrequency and fractional resurfacing are all energy based technologies and each have different indications. A knowledgeable esthetician / laser technician can educate you on energy based treatments in addition to other treatment options. In some cases a chemical peel, Botox, or a cosmetic filler may be a better option than laser. A consultation with an experienced esthetician can help you to make an educated decision on treatment.
It’s easier to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble.
Patients play an active role in their treatment.
Tanning is a contraindication to most laser and IPL treatments, it is the patients responsibility to use proper protection from UV rays and inform technician of any possible sun exposure. Follow all pre and post treatment instructions, including keeping skin cool. Patients that are noncompliant may be responsible for treatment complications. Anyone with dark skin is at increased risk for complications, and should look for an experienced technician that specialize in treating dark skin.
When choosing to do a cosmetic procedure always look for someone who is experienced with proper training and a successful reputation. Do not base decisions regarding laser treatments, solely on price. A poorly done treatment will cost you more in the long run. Laser clinics should not operate the same as a tanning salon or health club. Laser treatments are serious and should be treated as such.
Are they telling you what you want to hear?
Regardless of the technology, laser hair removal usually requires a minimum of 12 treatments on the face and 8 treatments on non-facial areas. In most cases periodic treatments are needed to maintain results. Laser technicians that tell you that you will only need 5 treatments are not necessarily lying to you intentionally, this is often what they are told by the companies that manufacture lasers. Same applies to claims of safely treating tan skin or effectively treating light hair, although it may be possible don’t count on it.
Questions to ask:
Are you a licensed esthetician and certified laser technician in this state?
Is there a Doctor on location?
How long have you been doing laser treatments?
How long have you worked with this laser or device?
How long have you been in this clinic?
Have you treated my skin type before?
If you have been burned
Most complications are manageable, and can often be completely resolved. Treatment protocol will depend on severity of burn. In some cases the “burns” are not as severe as they look. If it is just superficial redness with speckles of dark, you may even get a nice result. Unfortunately some burns may need medical attention and can lead to scarring. If you have been burned, return to the laser clinic immediately for follow up care. Proper treatment of the skin post treatment can make all the difference.