Laser Skin Care and other Skin Rejuvenation Treatments – Fact Sheet

Our skin is our largest organ and yet often it is overlooked when it comes to care. As we age it becomes very evident how well we’ve looked after our skin. Help however is at hand, today more than ever there are many new and innovative ways to restore the glow and vibrancy of youth, including laser skin care treatments.

Photorejuvenation uses light energy science to reverse sun-induced or environmental damage to the skin called photoageing. It is not a new type of intervention, but novel non-invasive applications of this technology are making a major impact.

Light therapies include laser skin care, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), and light-emitting diodes (LED). Lasers deliver single-colour, focused, high intensity beams of light. IPL devices by contrast emit multi-colour, non-focused, broad spectrum light. Thus, IPL devices are less powerful than lasers, but can treat a greater number of colour targets, for example, both brown and red pigment in the skin. LED devices use a combination of wavelengths, typically blue and red light, that can be individually customised.

Another new and exciting treatment targeting the deeper layers of the skin is a procedure that uses radiofrequency. It is a carefully controlled passing of an electric current that gently penetrates the deeper dermis, without the risk of interfering with surface layers.

Light-based Therapies

The light energy is used to heat up the tissue, and to selectively destroy targets, based on their colour, through selective absorption and spatial confinement of the energy. If enough ‘injury’ occurs, the skin repairs it, creating skin that is tighter, thicker, more even-coloured, or smoother than before. In recent years new classes of devices have been developed allowing light delivery to the skin in a more controlled manner. Cooling technology limits inadvertent damage to adjacent tissues, allowing higher levels of light energy to be directed towards the target. Aggressiveness and recovery time vary, depending on the light-based device used. Staying out of the sun during the first few weeks of recovery is critical. This is because newly emerging skin cells are more prone to sun damage for a few weeks.

Laser Skin Care

What is it?

Laser skin care has become one of the most widely used modalities to treat ageing skin. It works by directing a focused high-energy beam of light at a particular skin area to selectively heat and disrupt its target, while leaving other areas of the skin unaffected (selective photothermolysis). This allows it to be used in many different ways and target different parts of our skin. There are different types of lasers, including ablative lasers, non-ablative lasers, and fractional lasers.

How does it work?

Ablative laser therapy

Ablative lasers vaporise the outer skin surface to a very precise depth. This is commonly known as laser resurfacing. It is very similar to other resurfacing techniques like chemical peels and dermabrasion which selectively remove surface skin cells. Only here there are no chemicals and no abrasives, just laser beams.

Non-ablative laser therapy

This approach is much less effective for resurfacing. It heats deeper layers in the skin while simultaneously cooling the outer (epidermis) surface of the skin with a gel, cold handpiece or refrigerated spray cooling devices, so it doesn’t get damaged and remains intact. As there is no wound, this significantly reduces the chance of infection and other side effects seen when using ablative treatments.

Fractional laser therapy

An alternative approach is to treat only a fraction of the skin (around 20%), by making microscopic wounds with a laser, but leaving the majority of the surrounding skin intact. Unlike with non-ablative lasers, there are holes in the skin, but because they are tiny and lots of healthy skin adjacent to the treated spot is retained, any wounds heal within 3–7 days.

What about side effects?

Recovery from laser skin care depends on the kind of laser used and its intensity. It ranges from almost none with immediate return to normal activities possible, to a few weeks off being suggested. Lasers that disrupt the skin surface causing tiny wounds carry significantly greater risk of infections. Clients with a history of cold sores (Herpes Simplex) may experience break-outs. A course of broad-spectrum oral antibiotics and an anti-viral medication before treatment reduce the chances of infection. If an active cold sore exists the procedure is not performed.

Redness and swelling resolving in a week is common, discomfort may be eased with a cold compress or an ice pack. But, with lasers that cause wounding redness may take a month or two to fully settle. When wounds are inflicted, oozing, pinpoint bleeding, and crusting may be seen. In such situations ointments and soaks are needed multiple times a day to keep the wound moist until it has healed. Do not use hot water for at least two days when bathing as skin is sensitive to temperature.

Darker or very tanned skin runs the risk of pigment changes, careful choice of laser option, wavelengths, and treatment settings with an expert practitioner is essential. Pigment changes are usually transient, rejuvenating skin returns to normal tone within two to three months. However, rarely, hyper or hypo pigmentation may occur and be permanent.

Uncommon side effects of laser treatment include blistering, slight bleeding, scarring, and bruising. These can result from overlapping treatments, excessive energy, and inexperienced practitioners.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

What is it?

A popular technique for improving damaged and ageing skin is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). A high intensity beam of light is generated by passing an electrical current through a chamber filled with (xenon) gas. Red or brown elements in the skin absorb this specific light, causing them to heat up, while the outer skin surface is not disrupted.

Overall, IPL produces equivalent cosmetic effects as laser skin care, however there are some key differences. IPL flashes out light over a range of wavelengths (or colours) while lasers deliver only a burst of light at one specific wavelength. The same IPL device can simultaneously treat several kinds of skin problems that would otherwise require different lasers. It can be used for pigmented areas (e.g. age spots, sun spots, freckles, rosacea or unsightly broken capillaries), as well as acne and wrinkles, though the effects on wrinkles are somewhat less dramatic. Further, the IPL spot size (or footprint) is larger than that of laser, so IPL treatments are generally faster than laser. However, more IPL sessions are generally required to achieve the desired effect when compared to laser skin care.

Our Elos IPL is the first and only technology that combines light and radio frequency energies to effectively and gently restore and rejuvenate the appearance of the skin.

How does it work?

Heating the pigmented components of the skin causes skin cells to release their pigment, which rises to and is shed from the skin surface. Inflammatory responses are also triggered aiding the removal of old or damaged collagen, and replacing it with new healthy matrix. This leads to at least partial replacement of the skin volume lost with age.

The same IPL device can be used to treat different targets by using ‘cut off filters’. These limit the wavelength reaching the skin to more selectively target the desired element.

What about side effects?

Recovery is rapid after the procedure, and you may return to work soon after. Most IPL side effects are minor and subside within 24 hours. Temporary itching and redness may be experienced, but is easily covered with makeup. There may also be some skin peeling for a few days after treatment. Occasionally a cold sore breakout may occur if the Herpes simplex virus affects you. This can be prevented by taking an antiviral medication.

Dark areas treated may temporarily get a little darker instead of lighter, this is not cause for concern. It will quickly settle after old skin cells are pushed to the surface and peel off. Applying a moisturiser twice a day speeds up the process. Protect the treated area from the sun for at least two weeks to minimise any risk of pigment changes. Preferably use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, every day, regardless of weather.

Light-Emitting Diodes (LED) Therapy

 

What is it?

LED therapy is a relaxing, painless, non-invasive treatment that can be individually customised. It is effective for acne treatment and management as it is very efficient at killing the bacteria that cause acne. LED therapy reduces blemishes, facial lines, wrinkles, and pigmentation, and is suitable for all skin types. However, one of its biggest drawbacks is that it requires multiple treatments over an extended period to produce a noticeable improvement in ageing skin.

How does it work?

The light from the LED panel is absorbed by the skin to stimulate collagen, elastin, and cellular regeneration in a process termed photobiomodulation. Wound healing is improved by reducing inflammation, and sun-damaged skin is repaired by accelerating the growth of new collagen. A short treatment under the panel leaves skin glowing and rejuvenated.

What about side effects?

LED lights are gentle, they only slightly warm the skin. One of the main benefits of LED devices is that they are relatively safe. When used appropriately, skin burns are very unlikely. In fact the result of LED therapy is skin that is hydrated and rejuvenated. Overall the outcome is one of high patient satisfaction.

Radiofrequency Therapy (RF) for Skin Tightening

What is it?

Radiofrequency energy is an exciting new way to target the deeper layers of the skin in a carefully controlled manner, without upsetting the surface. The procedure is often alluded to as ‘a non-surgical facelift’ like laser skin care, and used for treating skin laxity and sagging—like jowl sagging, the folds around the nose, wrinkles and lines around the mouth and the forehead or bags under the eyes. Only modest changes are achievable with RF treatments on their own, it works synergistically with conventional ablative laser skin care. Our Refirme skin tightening procedure allows you to attain tight and firm skin without downtime.

How does it work?

Our skin is resistant to the passage of electricity, thus it heats up when an electric current is passed through it. Radiofrequency like laser skin care works by precise heating of the matrix proteins (mainly collagen) in the skin. This stimulates them to denature, contract and almost immediately tighten lax skin. The outer skin surface stays cool, so it is not affected and remains completely intact. Over the next few months, the heat-damaged matrix is progressively removed by the body and replaced with young, healthy collagen. Ultimately, this leads to stronger, firmer, smoother skin with a more youthful appearance.

What about side effects?

Radiofrequency is a very safe treatment with only minor and temporary side effects. Typical concerns are minor discomfort during the procedure, and redness or swelling afterwards which usually lasts for a couple of hours. A cold compress or an ice pack placed on the treated area will soothe and help to reduce discomfort and swelling.

There’s little or no downtime and a quick return to normal activities is expected. A soothing restorative cream may be applied following the procedure and continued for several days. Makeup can be applied immediately after treatment as the epidermis is unaffected.

Rarely, some patients develop abrasions (crusting) in the treated area. These usually heal or drop off within three to four days. It is rare to experience changes in sensation in the treated area, such as itching or numbness. These symptoms are temporary, usually mild and resolve completely in days to weeks.

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