Laser treatments have revolutionised skincare over the past two decades. When used appropriately, laser treatments have been found to be extremely effective for a wide range of applications, including removal of pigmentation and excessive hair, controlling of acne and even the smoothening of wrinkles and scars. With technology that is constantly changing and upgrading, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the wealth of information out there on the internet. This article was written to answer some common questions and debunk some popular myths of aesthetic laser treatments.
MYTH 1 – Laser treatments are all the same and all help to achieve better skin
Lasers are not a magic wand cure-all! They are machines generating single wavelength focused beams of light. Different lasers (with the use of different settings) target different components of our skin. Pigment lasers such as the Q-switched Nd:YAG target melanin in the skin to break down pigments, whereas vascular lasers like Long-pulse Nd:YAG lasers target haemoglobin inside fine vessels that are sometimes visible across the surface of the skin, and resurfacing lasers such as the Fractional laser causes skin regeneration and collagen growth.
Even so, different types of pigmentation may require different types of lasers. It is not practical to expect one laser treatment to treat all of your concerns. Ensure that your clinic has a wide enough range of lasers to handle different problems and take care of all your needs.
MYTH 2 – Laser treatments cause skin sensitivity
It is not true that individuals with sensitive skin (or skin conditions like eczema) are not suitable for laser treatments. Certain types of sensitive skin conditions actually benefit from laser treatments. For instance, rosacea and diffused skin redness can be treated with “Gold Toning” Anti-redness laser, while acne breakouts also benefit from “Laser Toning” and “Gold Toning”. However, it is possible for laser treatments to cause some skin sensitivity right after the treatment. Depending on the type and strength of the treatment, duration of the sensitivity can range from hours to days after the treatment. The important thing is to allow your skin to rest adequately and use proper skin care products in between treatments.
MYTH 3 – Laser treatments cause skin thinning
Some patients stay away from all lasers because of rumours that they cause skin thinning. As mentioned above, there are many different types of lasers, and certain lasers (ablative ones) do cause skin vaporisation and thin out the skin initially. With proper rest and post-care, the collagen layer in the dermis actually thickens with time. Some patients do multiple laser treatments with different clinics and use a variety of skincare products not advised by their doctors. This does not allow the skin to rest and regenerate adequately. It can sometimes be challenging to treat a patient who has done a procedure somewhere else and is not entirely sure what treatment was performed. Stick to a doctor you can trust for your laser treatments and keep him or her informed of everything you are doing for your skin. Adequate rest between laser treatments do not make your skin thinner.
MYTH 4 – My laser treatment does not work as well as what it says online!
Many patients compare their treatments to many online sources which boast of better results in fewer sessions. It is important to realise that every treatment should be tailored and that includes the your downtime you can take. The risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is higher in Asian skin (who have a darker skin tone than Caucasians), making skin problems in Asians more difficult to treat. The proper use of medical skin care and sunscreen also reduces the risk of PIH in patients. Laser treatments in Asian skin tend to take more sessions to see results because of the lower (and safer) treatment strength used.
MYTH 5 – Effects of laser treatments do not last and your skin can be worse off after treatment finishes
Since certain treatments rely on collagen growth to improve skin condition (like resurfacing or skin firming), it can take up to weeks and months before results are fully visible. Since our skin ages with time and exposure to sun, our skin can worsen without proper maintenance. There is no permanent solution for aging! After a series of laser sessions prescribed for treatment purposes, most patients ease into a maintenance schedule that is spaced more widely apart. Beware of clinics that tell you lasers can be done on a daily basis for maintenance, as treatments done this frequently can result in many undesirable side effects.