All About Lasers, Part 1: Types of Laser Treatments
Spring is a time for renewal. It is the best time of year to start fresh and try something new. So why not freshen your skin? Laser skin therapies can be a great way to smooth skin, banish acne, or remove hair, just to name a few remedies.
To better understand your options when it comes to your skin, we thought it would be good to take a deeper look at lasers. It is important to work with a well-trained and experienced laser technician. But it can be nice to know some of the science behind the lasers to be an informed patient.
Now, on to the details!
Note: This post will be part of a series of posts detailing laser therapies and the science behind it.
What are the different forms of aesthetic lasers used today?
There are five major classes of dermatologic lasers currently in common use:
- Ablative fractionated lasers
- Ablative non-fractionated lasers
- Non-ablative fractionated lasers
- Non-ablative non-fractionated lasers
- Radiofrequency technologies
Here’s an interesting fact – the word “laser” is actually an acronym for: Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation.[/bsf-info-box]
click to enlarge photos
Type: Ablative Lasers
Treatment: Skin Resurfacing
Overview: Most effective therapy, but with harsh side effects and considerable downtime.
NOTE: At Luminous You, we do NOT use ablative laser treatments.
Ablative laser systems are harsh, but are more effective. The treatment affects the entire surface and deep skin layers (epidermis, or outer layer, and dermis, inner layer). Ablative lasers resurface photodamaged skin by evaporating the damaged skin layer-by-layer and allowing the growth of new, healthy, smoother skin. This procedure is aggressive and unfortunately leads to significant downtime of a few weeks to months for recovery. There also may be significant side effects such as: erythema (reddening of the skin), edema (swelling of skin), infection, acne flares, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, and scarring.
Our verdict: If you have really bad scars, prominent wrinkles, dramatic pigmentation, and a lot of time to stay home after the procedure, you may consider ablative laser therapy.
Type: Non-ablative Lasers
Treatment: Skin Rejuvenation
Overview: Much safer alternative to ablative lasers with little to no downtime.
Non-ablative laser systems target only the dermis, leaving the epidermis intact. The results are not as effective as with ablative laser resurfacing, but the excellent safety profile and rapid recovery post-treatment have made these systems popular.
These systems have been divided into 3 main groups:
The main advantage of non-ablative laser rejuvenation is the lack of downtime for patients. The devices target dermal vasculature (blood vessels in skin), and are effective in any conditions related to diffusing erythema, poikiloderma (sun damage) or rosacea. Mid-infrared devices also target melanin (skin pigment), and are most often the reason to consider non-ablative laser rejuvenation. The conditions these lasers treat are: lentigines (age/sun spots), melasma (brown patches), seborrheic Keratosis (noncancerous skin growth), poikiloderma (sun damage) on neck/decollate area, acne, and are used in Laser hair removal. We use our Candela Gentle Max with dual wavelength (Alexandrite 755 and Nd:Yag1064) “true” laser.
At Luminous You, we also use an IPL.
IPL provides the best results for treating conditions like: wide pores, uneven skin tone, acne, poikiloderma on neck/decollate area, lentigines, melasma, and rosacea. We love to use IPL for photo rejuvenation. IPL actually makes our skin produce new cells more often and, as a result, our skin looks younger!
Often, many treatments overlap. Depending on the clinical presentation/skin condition, we may use one or both machines during one treatment session.
*We do not use a PDL at our medical spa.
Type: Radiofrequency Technologies
Treatment: Skin Tightening
Overview: Safe for all skin types and colors and work well for scar treatment and vaginal rejuvenation.
elōs (electro-optical synergy) machines use radiofrequency technology. They are safe for all skin types and colors and work well for skin tightening and scar treatment.
The newest version of radiofrequency technology is used for vaginal rejuvenation and tightening, helping prevent/improve incontinence, improved vaginal aesthetic components and sex life, and improved self-confidence.
At Luminous You, we hope to offer these services sometime in the future.
For your reference, we have included a chart that details the difference between IPL and laser technology for hair removal.