When it comes to skin resurfacing treatments (another term for skin laser procedures), there are literally hundreds to choose from. The various names and terms are enough to drive anyone without a science or medical degree crazy. Let me start with the most important thing first.
How to find the right provider?
You must find a qualified and experienced laser clinician, who specialises in laser resurfacing in particular. A great provider will navigate all the science for you and select the right treatment plan based on your specific wants, present issues, your skin type and your lifestyle. The Laser specialist needs to have many years of experience with laser resurfacing- don’t be afraid to ask how many treatments they have performed and how many years of experience they have.
At what age should you consider a laser skin treatment?
It really depends on the skin type, the issues you want to address, and your lifestyle. There is such a variety of laser types and treatments available on the market. For superficial wrinkles and sun damage, 20s and 30s can be a perfect age to start.
But now on to the more technical aspects of this. There are literally hundreds of options out there. Generally, these fall into one of two categories: ablative and non-ablative. And that’s mostly what you need to understand before scheduling an appointment. So read on…
Who should NOT consider a skin laser rejuvenation treatment?
This is where an experienced and qualified laser specialist is extremely important. For some individuals, certain types of laser and light therapy are more suitable than others. For others, skin rejuvenation procedures are not recommended at all. To evaluate if you are a good candidate, reach out and book a consultation with an experienced Laser technician who can go through all the details of the procedures that will work best for your specific skin type and concern. Finding the right laser specialist at the beginning of your skin journey will save you a lot of time, hassle and money and will ensure you are well educated and that your skin goals are realistic.
Let’s Get Technical
What is an ablative skin laser?
Ablative skin laser treatments damage the upper layers of skin and typically require some down-time. The recovery time and the pain involved generally correlates with how deep into the epidermis or dermis the laser is working.
The laser precisely burns off or vapourises the top skin layers.
With these treatments you can select the depth into the epidermis that you want to treat. Ablative skin laser treatments are great at quickly improving the appearance of deeper wrinkles, minimizing pores, skin texture, and sun damage. Sometimes a series of these is recommended, but often a single treatment can provide vast improvements. Because these laser treatments to damage the top layers of your skin, they do require some downtime. How much really depends on how your skin reacts to the particular treatment and what type of laser and at what depth is used. Your Laser specialist is the best to assess your skin and provide targeted recommendations along with down-time expectations.
The carbon dioxide (CO2) and Erbium (or YAG) lasers are examples of ablative lasers.
When should you get ablative laser rejuvenation treatment? It all depends on the depth of treatment, however for deeper treatments, it is best to undergo these procedures in the Autumn and Winter months. During this time your skin is least likely to suffer additional damage from sun exposure during its most vulnerable state.
What is a non-ablative skin laser?
Non-ablative skin laser treatments like Skintyte actually target the deeper layers of your skin without damaging the upper layers. They typically work by heating up the targeted tissue. By doing so, these lasers stimulate the production of collagen from within. This can reduce the appearance fine lines and wrinkles over time.
Because this procedures does not damage the outer layers of your skin, the recovery time is minimal or zero.
These treatments can be done in your lunch hour and you can return to work immediately. The effects are not as immediate and can take from several weeks up to several months to appear fully. They also typically require a series of several
One thing all lasers have in common is that they are generally a single wavelength. This can be limiting if you are aiming to target specific discoloration on your skin (like sunspots or rosacea). This is where light therapy comes in.
What the difference between skin lasers, BBL, and IPL technology?
Although many providers jumble laser skin treatments and BBL (BroadBand Light) / IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) and other light therapy treatments into one category, they are quite different! BBL and IPL are technically not lasers at all.
Lasers work with one wavelength and target and treat one specific target,eg a vein. Whereas BBL and IPL emits a broad spectrum light which heats up a larger area and targets multiple pigment and vascular lesions. The targets absorbs the heat energy and are destroyed.
This process initiates a healing response within by stimulating collagen and elastin production. Meanwhile, the damaged skin cells are gently and gradually eliminated over time. Because of the light-based technology, BBL can target very different skin concerns very specifically. These range from skin tone and texture, pigmentation, rosacea, broken capillaries, hair removal, and even acne.
More on BBL vs. IPL
There is actually research out of Stanford that shows regular BBL treatments will not only prevent aging of skin, but can reverse. Subjects actually ended up looking more than 10 years younger after a long term study (linked here). BroadBand Light (BBL)™ is the world’s most powerful IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) device on the market. It sets a new standard in treating skin conditions.
BBL is technically a much more advanced and better version of IPL technology.
Laser machines used in many cases are inferior and treatments vary vastly. Because BBL is a much more precise technology, there is a lesser chance of negative side-effects; it also tends to be a lot more effective at providing clinical results.
The most important decision you will make when choosing a skin resurfacing / skin rejuvenation method is the choice of your Laser specialist! A skilled, certified, and experienced provider will make all the difference. I can’t stress this enough!
Speak to one of our specialists about how we can help with your skin tags.
Written By Skin & Laser Specialist Cherie Cochrane
Cherie specialises in the aesthetic side of Atlantic Dermatology and Laser. With over a decade of experience in skin, laser and aesthetic treatments, a results-driven approach and over 6 years as a business owner, she has created two successful aesthetic businesses.
Cherie has recently moved to Cape Town and is a proven professional with a results-driven approach. Cherie has trained Doctors, Nurses, Therapists and Professionals to become leading experts within their chosen profession and won the prestigious international “Best Results” Laser competition by Sciton, competing against the top 200 clinics from around the world.
After having your first consultation with Cherie, you will leave here educated and with a proper plan to get the best results for your skin