Lasers have been used in the treatment of skin conditions and for cosmetic purposes for over 40 years. But it’s really been in the last 20 years that technological advances in the field of medical lasers has catapulted them into the limelight of skincare and beauty. Whether it is hair removal, spot removal, skin rejuvenation or anti aging, lasers have become an important tool in the correction and enhancement of skin condition.
What are lasers?
Lasers are intense concentrated light that can be focused into small spots with lots of energy. There are a few different types of laser light with different characteristics and applications. Some of the oldest types of laser that were used 40 years ago were produced from carbon dioxide or argon gas in continuous wave lasers, whereas these days most of these have been replaced lasers produced from similar gazes as well as liquids and solids, and these lasers are quasi-continuous wave mode lasers and pulsed laser systems which are more gentle on the skin and produce less scarring than the older lasers.
Lasers are beams of concentrate powerful light that can affect certain areas of the skin when focused on them, and we can use this ability of lasers to alter skin to serve our purposes in beauty and health care applications.
How do lasers work?
Different skin conditions or blemishes can show up in different colors on the skin, such as brown or red spots. Some lasers specifically target these spots to remove them. Other lasers target dark hair allowing the hair cell to be targeted for removal and promoting long term hair removal. Skin rejuvenation lasers target larger areas of the skin to produce an overall rejuvenated and fresh look for the skin.
The basic purpose of lasers is to target colored cells that are causing a problem and removing them, allowing the body to replace these damaged cells with fresh health cells.
Lasers for Blemish Removal
Lasers have been used to successfully treat a number of skin lesions and discolorations including moles, freckles and tattoos. In this application, lasers target the colored cells and destroy them, while not harming the surrounding cells and tissue. Two to ten treatments may be necessary to fully remove the discoloration from the skin, and while there are few issues or side effects there can be some color and texture changes like scarring after laser treatment, and of course all moles need to be checked for melanoma first.
Lasers for Hair Removal
Lasers can target and remove excessive and problematic hair easily and quickly for up to 3 to 6 months before regrowth is evident. Several treatments are usually required as hair grows in different cycles, and laser treatment is usually not as successful on light colored hair – the most effective results can be seen on those with light skin but dark hair. This is because the laser targets the dark color in the hair follicle in order to identify and destroy it. Side effects are rare but can include burning, swelling, pigment change in the skin and scarring, so qualified laser hair removal practitioners should always perform the treatment.
Lasers for Skin Rejuvenation and Anti Aging
Due to the effect of lasers of rejuvenating skin and removing minor blemishes, lasers have been successfully used to remove facial wrinkles, acne scars and sun damaged skin. High energy, pulsed and scanned CO2 lasers are the preferred tools for skin rejuvenation and are taken as the gold standard for beauty treatments, and these lasers can typically produce a 50% improvement in skin condition. These lasers work over a large area of the skin on the face to provide a more general rejuvenating effect and so there can be some redness, swelling and tenderness in the weeks following the treatment. This lasts while the new skin cells grow underneath, providing a fresh and flawless skin surface after treatment. Fraxel lasers are an example of this kind of treatment with the advantage that Fraxel lasers provide 2 levels of treatment -treatment a milder treatment for younger, less damaged skin, and a stronger treatment for stubborn skin issues.
The technology of lasers has brought a revolution to skin care and beauty which we can appreciate due to their unparalleled ability to rejuvenate and freshen the layers of the skin for a younger, more beautifully flawless face.