Our readers’ most-asked questions about laser treatments, answered by the pros.
Are some lasers more intense than others?
“Laser resurfacing means that some or all of the superficial skin is burned off to varying degrees of depth,” says Scottsdale, AZ facial plastic surgeon Kelly Bomer, MD. The two types of laser resurfacing are ablative and nonablative: Ablative remove the top layer of skin, while nonablative work by heating up the underlying skin tissue (without harming the surface) to incite collagen production. Some lasers, like HALO, offer a combination of both types and provide a balance between shorter downtime and good results.
What is the best laser for beginners?
According to Washington, D.C. dermatologist Tina Alster, MD, the “gateway” treatment for those who have never had laser skin resurfacing is Clear + Brilliant. “It is an easy way to polish the skin without significant recovery,” she says. “Essentially, patients experience a few hours of redness followed by a few days of dryness. Most patients are able to resume their regular activities very quickly after treatment.”
Which skin-care products should I use after a laser?
“If the treatment is more superficial, healing will be faster and a high-moisture moisturizer that penetrates the skin will be sufficient,” Dr. Bomer says. “When the treatment is deeper, a squalane oil and/or an occlusive ointment is needed. With any laser, aggressive sun protection will be required for at least one month after a treatment to prevent pigmentation issues on the fresh, new skin.”
Which laser is best for skin tightening?
“Along the face, CO2 and Er:YAG ablative lasers continue to be the standard,” says Delray Beach, FL plastic surgeon Miguel Mascaró, MD. “However, they do involve downtime, but their results are unmatched. On the body, skin tends to respond a little differently, so radio-frequency and plasma treatments work better.”
What is the recovery like after laser resurfacing?
After nonablative treatments, recovery is much easier, with redness and dryness typically lasting one to three days. Following an ablative procedure, Dr. Alster says side effects often include redness, swelling, oozing, and mild discomfort for a week that requires diligent wound care with ice packs and ointments, followed by two to four additional weeks of skin redness.
Is there anyone who isn’t a candidate for laser resurfacing?
“Patients—regardless of skin color—who have had recent sun exposure should wait until their tans fade to reduce the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation,” says Dr. Alster. “Also, patients who have autoimmune disorders like vitiligo or lupus with involvement in the areas undergoing treatment should avoid laser skin resurfacing in order to prevent the spread of their underlying condition.” Other skin disorders that should be cleared by a doctor prior to a laser treatment include infections like warts, and inflammatory conditions like acne, psoriasis and eczema, to avoid their worsening and/or spread. “Lastly, anyone who has unrealistic expectations about the procedure— believing that all the wrinkles or scars will be erased—should not undergo treatment,” Dr. Alster adds.
Are there any lasers that get rid of fat?
According to Dr. Mascaró, a new laser called Eon targets and heats fat cells just below the skin. “It’s the only one of its kind because it’s a ‘no touch’ laser, meaning that the machine never actually touches your skin. Its robotic arm waves over the designated area, treating the unwanted fat without any contact via gels, pads, suction, etc.” The body then eliminates the fat cells naturally over the course of 12 weeks.
Jan Marini Skin Research Post TX2 Recovery Enhancement System ($185) features three essentials for post-laser skin: a gentle cleanser, an occlusive moisturizer infused with active ingredients like growth factors, peptides and antioxidants, and a physical sunscreen. It’s the ultimate trifecta to protect and soothe skin while reducing redness and enhancing in-office results.