Lasers and light based modalities are truly some of the most exciting developments in skin care today. Whatever your concern, there's probably a laser or light based therapy to address it. This approach is often not only more effective but usually more cost effective than expensive creams. Also, today's lasers are known to have little downtime. Often, the only side effect is a little redness.
I'll outline the major categories in laser technologies available today, but keep in mind that new lasers and light based treatments are advancing rapidly. Find a dermatologist who employs a variety of technologies, usually they will be affiliated with a teaching hospital. They are often no more expensive than traditional providers. Let's take a look at the major categories of lasers and light based technologies out there today.
First is the category of "fractional" lasers. These lasers have been around since the 1980s, the first being the CO2 laser. A truly ablative laser, the first iterations were known for dramatic improvements in skin texture, scarring and general wrinkling. However, the downtime was excessive, necessitating a week or more of home seclusion and substantial aftercare. Nevertheless, the results were dramatic and exciting. Today, there are new versions of fractional lasers that accomplish much improvement without the downtime. They work by impacting a fraction of the skin, sparing the surrounding tissues from damage. Some are ablative, some non ablative.
The next category of lasers are vascular lasers. VBeam is an example of this type of laser. These are effective at treating telangectasias, i.e. broken capillaries, port wine stains,rhinophyma, etc. A few treatments are usually necessary, but they are usually affordable.
All lasers work by targeting chromophores in the skin. A particular wavelength will target a certain pigment. Some target blue, others red or purple. The surrounding skin is not affected, hence, little downtime.
There are also lasers like the Cool Touch Varia that target bluish dark circles under the eye along with larger blue veins surrounding the temple area. Again, multiple treatments are often necessary but results are dramatic.
There are newer non ablative therapies like the Pico Sure, which is great for textural problems, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. These are more expensive, but usually one or two treatments is enough to permanently eradicate the problems.
An additional technology utilized today is Radiofrequency. These use a heated device to target sagging skin and are particularly good for the jawline area. Sometimes they are combined with microneedling. RF precisely measures the energy delivered to the tissues, ensuring personalized treatment. It is indicated for enlarged pores, scarring, stretch marks and fine lines. It offers fast results with clean needle technology. The potential for these devices is exciting. Some RF devices are also fractional. They use Invasive Monopolar RF,Invasive Bipolar RF and Superficial settings to enhance results. There is minimal pain and downtime associated with these treatments. Other popular RF treatments are EndyMed and the Collagen PIN system. Microneedling can also be combined with PRP i.e Platelet- Rich Plasma to treat fine lines and sometimes hair loss. Microneedling should never be performed by an esthetician, only a dermatologist.
IPL I.e. intense pulsed light, is still used today and the technologies are constantly improving. The original " no downtime" treatment, IPL targets multiple problems at once. The results are more modest than a targeted laser, but they're a good option for some people. Sometimes they're called a "lunchtime peel". Clear and Brilliant is a version of this type of treatment.
In summary, there are many effective lasers and light based technologies worth your consideration. Look for an experienced dermatologist who will fully explain the best treatment for your concerns. Some leading dermatologists in the field are Dr. Robert Weiss in the Baltimore area, Dr.Jeffrey Dover in Boston and Dr. Mitchell Goldman in the San Diego area.