September 2, 2022
As the leaves start changing and you break out your coziest sweater, it can only mean one thing: it’s Laser Season! Although we are sad to see summer go, healthier skin is right around the corner. Fall is the perfect time to discover which laser treatments are right for you, repair the damage the sun may have caused over the summer, and get your skin prepped and glowing for the holiday season.
Fall is the ideal time for laser treatments for a multitude of reasons. Most laser treatments have strict after-care instructions to avoid sun exposure, which can be difficult during the summer months. Laser-treated skin is more sensitive than normal skin, thereby increasing the risk of hyperpigmentation. This hyperpigmentation can last more than one month after the laser treatment, depending on which treatment you receive and how intense the treatment is on your skin. By delaying laser treatments to the fall and winter, the risk of hyperpigmentation is significantly reduced. While laser treatments are cosmetic procedures, it is important to remember that they are still medical procedures. All after-care instructions must be followed and proper precaution needs to be taken.
Due to the post-care regime of a laser treatment, which includes staying out of the sun, summer is not an ideal time to start laser treatments. During the summer months, the sun is more direct, the UV radiation is higher, and the days are longer. Summer is also warmer which increases blood flow to the skin that may affect healing after lasers. This means the summer sun increases melanin production in the skin. Additionally, since laser-treated skin is more sensitive to the sun, it can be difficult to prevent skin damage in the summer even when taking the proper precautions, including wearing sunscreen.
Laser hair removal is an excellent example of why laser treatments during summer months are not advised. During a laser hair removal treatment, the laser is heating up the melanin in the patient’s hair follicle in order to destroy the cells that make the hair and keep it from re-growing. If there is more melanin in the skin due to sun exposure, the laser might not be able to accurately distinguish the melanin in the hair versus the melanin in the skin. This can result in the laser heating the pigment in the skin creating a burn which can lead to hyperpigmentation or even scarring.
While it is safe to begin your laser treatments in the winter or spring months, we recommend beginning treatments in the fall. Many laser treatments require several visits – ranging from one to six sessions. A one-month period between each session is typically advised, which will be specified in your consultation with one of our providers depending on your skin goals. Starting in the fall is also recommended so that the patient can begin targeting damage that may have occurred over the previous summer and see results before the holiday parties begin.
Laser treatments can address a multitude of skin concerns and cosmetic skin conditions, such as wrinkles, scars, acne, redness, tattoos, or unwanted hair. Not one laser treatment can fix all of your skin’s problems, so you must find the best laser treatment for your cosmetic needs. At SkinDC, we have eight types of laser treatments in total that work on repairing and revitalizing your skin. Not all lasers are perfect for everyone but our team of Board-Certified Dermatologists can create a customized treatment plan to help meet your skin goals.
The BBL® BroadBand Light Treatment uses broadband light to reduce background redness and the appearance of brown spots on the skin. Developed by Sciton, the BBL® device emits broad-spectrum photothermal energy, which absorbs brown pigment (melanin) in the skin and the hemoglobin in blood vessels that cause redness.
Dermatologists use the BroadBand Light Treatment to treat several different skin conditions and patient concerns. While the BBL® can treat skin conditions such as rosacea, spider veins, and acne; we have the VBeam vascular laser that is more selective at removing unwanted red spots on the skin. At SkinDC, we find that BBL® is best at treating the discoloration that develops with chronic sun damage. It minimizes the appearance of sun damage, brown spots, freckles, and background diffuse redness in order to even out skin tone. Pairing BBL® with a resurfacing laser that builds collagen is SkinDC’s favorite combination in order to address both aspects (discoloration and collagen loss) of chronic sun damage.
During the treatment, the light energy delivered by the BBL® will gently heat melanin and hemoglobin in the upper layers of your skin. The heat absorbed by the targeted areas will lead to the removal of excess pigment and blood vessels. At SkinDC, we recommend periodic BBL® treatments to keep your skin clear and glowing over time. The BBL® BroadBand Light Treatment is the key to keeping your natural youthful skin by making it clearer, vibrant, and younger looking.
Listen to SkinDC’s co-founder and Board-Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Lina Naga, talk about the BBL® BroadBand Light Treatment here: BBL (BroadBand Light) at SkinDC
The Halo Resurfacing Laser, by Sciton, is a fractional resurfacing laser. Resurfacing refers to the category of laser treatments that involve an injury to the skin followed by skin healing. During the healing process, collagen and elastin develop in the skin which will improve texture, scars, pore size, and fine lines. While a conventional laser is a continuous single beam of light energy, a fractional laser takes that single beam and divides it into thousands of very tiny light energy beams or pixels. Since the full power of the laser splits into many fractional streams, the power of the laser spreads and moderates the effects on the treatment area(s) in order to create a controlled injury to the skin. The skin responds to the injury by healing itself resulting in more collagen and elastin.
The Halo Resurfacing Laser also bridges the gap between ablative and non-ablative skin resurfacing treatments. Ablative resurfacing aggressively stimulates new collagen formation through precise vaporization of the skin. Since a larger injury is created, recovery time is longer than with non-ablative techniques. The Halo Resurfacing Laser is unique in that it delivers both ablative and non-ablative wavelengths of light, delivering the benefits of aggressive treatment with recovery times more in line with non-ablative treatment. The unique hybrid feature of the Halo Resurfacing Laser system simultaneously combines two types of resurfacing treatments within a single session. During the treatment, deep tissue non-ablative injury is combined with mild superficial ablation of the skin surface.
Listen to SkinDC’s co-founder and Board-Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Lina Naga, talk about the Halo Resurfacing Laser here: Halo Resurfacing Laser at SkinDC
The PicoWay Resolve® Resurfacing Laser, from Candela, is an effective, non-invasive device that stimulates collagen growth and encourages cell turnover, leaving the patient with younger-looking skin. This laser works differently than a lot of the other lasers. PicoWay Resolve® uses very targeted and short pulses measured in picoseconds (or trillionth of a second). These ultra-short pulses are focused leading to a “photoacoustic” effect, which avoids heating the skin that most resurfacing technologies cause. The disadvantage of heating the skin is that patients with darker skin tones had to avoid these treatments as the heat can stimulate the pigment cells resulting in hyperpigmentation. With the PicoWay Resolve®’s ultra-short pulses creating a mechanical injury, this treatment can be used on all skin types and skin tones. The PicoWay Resolve® stimulates new collagen which improves the appearance of acne scars, pore size, fine lines, and skin texture overall.
Listen to SkinDC’s co-founder and Board-Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Terrence Keaney, talk about the PicoWay Resolve® Resurfacing Laser Treatment here: Pico Resolve Laser at SkinDC
Created by Sciton, the ProFractional laser treatment is a unique resurfacing technique that focuses on improving the overall quality of the skin. A ProFractional laser treatment is a fractional ablative resurfacing treatment that improves moderate-to-severe photoaging including severe wrinkles and traumatic, surgical, burn, and acne scars.
Unlike full-field resurfacing techniques that remove the entire surface area of the treatment site, the ProFactional laser creates channels in the skin that have a more narrow diameter. In addition, ProFactional delivers a highly targeted laser beam into the skin and leaves a portion of the tissue intact, making the recovery from this treatment happen in a shorter time frame. The microscopic channels close in 2-3 days followed by 1-2 weeks of post-treatment redness.
If you desire to have younger-looking skin and improve scarring, wrinkles, or sun damage while avoiding multiple treatments, then the ProFactional laser resurfacing treatment might be right for you. After the healing process is complete, you can expect your skin to appear tighter and smoother, with wrinkles and other skin imperfections dramatically lessened.
Listen to SkinDC’s co-founder and Board-Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Terrence Keaney, talk about the ProFractional Laser Resurfacing Treatment here: Profractional Laser at SkinDC
The Vbeam Vascular Laser, designed by Candela, delivers an intense burst of yellow light to your skin. This light is specifically absorbed by the blood vessels in your skin. When these blood vessels are heated, they coagulate and are then reabsorbed by your body. The laser helps lessen or even eliminate the appearance of pink and red spots and patches on the skin.
The Vbeam Vascular laser is a pulsed dye laser that is the gold standard for the treatment of many conditions that have an underlying vascular blood vessel cause. These conditions include rosacea, spider veins, new red scars, acne scars, red birthmarks, and port wine stains, angiomas, and uneven coloring of the neck. Vbeam targets hemoglobin, the red protein within blood cells, without damaging the surrounding cells or tissues.
Listen to SkinDC’s co-founder and Board-Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Lina Naga, talk about the Vbeam Vascular Laser Treatment here: Vascular Laser at SkinDC
The Microlaser peel treatment removes a portion of the dead skin layer (stratum corneum) and superficial epidermis to improve skin texture and pigmentation. This treatment by Sciton only removes the outermost layer of skin to help new, rejuvenated skin cells rise to the surface and promote healing. Using advanced erbium laser technology, the thin layer of skin is safely and precisely removed, replacing the dead skin cells in order to improve the texture and clarity of the patient’s skin. It has a similar mechanism of action to chemical peels but takes advantage of laser physics to lead to a precise and more predictable treatment result.
“Visually [the procedure] provides better luminosity to the skin. Light reflects skin better if you don’t have a thick, dead skin layer. Also, [the treatment] allows for increased cellular turnover of the top layers of the skin, known as the epidermis, so it does help indirectly pull off pigmentations,” says Dr. Terrence Keaney. The treatment strips away light and mild wrinkles easily and quickly with automated scanning and large coverage of the treatment area(s). The depth of the treatment is customizable up to 50um depending on the severity and depth of the wrinkle with the addition of coagulation as an independent setting to improve the turgor of the patient’s skin.
Listen to SkinDC’s co-founder and Board-Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Terrence Keaney, talk more about the Microlaser Peel Treatment here: Microlaser Peel at SkinDC
The PicoWay laser tattoo removal treatment, created by Candela, is the most innovative tattoo removal laser on the market today. Compared with the nanosecond technology of the past, today’s ultra-fast picosecond laser removal technology offers less risk and pain, faster results, a broader range of colors removed, and fewer treatment sessions.
PicoWay utilizes three laser wavelengths. The first wavelength enables the treatment of shallow lesions and tattoo ink colors such as red, yellow and orange. The second wavelength allows for the treatment of deeper lesions and tattoo ink colors such as black and dark blue. The third wavelength treats bright green and blue. Treatment is suitable for all skin types and tattoo colors.
Despite what many think, the PicoWay Laser Tattoo does not get rid of the tattoo ink in your skin, but actually breaks up the ink so that your body is able to more quickly and effectively rid itself of the tattoo ink. Therefore, a patient will typically need six to ten treatments to fully break up the ink depending on the color of the tattoo. Colors such as reds, yellows, and oranges are more difficult to break up than blacks and dark blues.
Listen to SkinDC’s co-founder and Board-Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Terrence Keaney, talk more about PicoWay Laser Tattoo Removal here: Laser Tattoo Removal at SkinDC
Laser hair removal is a great option for patients who are looking to get rid of thick, dark, unwanted hair permanently. The GentleMax Pro™ laser hair removal machine from Candela targets the melanin in hair follicles, using single, specific wavelengths that are tuned to match the skin pigmentation of each patient. This means that our laser hair removal treatment will work on all skin types. However, due to the nature of laser hair removal targeting the melanin in the hair follicles, blonde/red hair and peach fuzz are not the targets of laser hair removal.
Hair follicles grow in a cycle, though not in sync with each other, so several treatments will be necessary to catch follicles at their most vulnerable place in the growth cycle. The melanin in the hair follicles absorbs the energy produced from the laser source and heats up. This heating action destroys the follicle’s ability to grow hair, leading to complete hair removal once all follicles in each area are treated.
Listen to SkinDC’s co-founder and Board-Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Terrence Keaney, talk more about Laser Hair Removal here: Laser Hair Removal at SkinDC