New Gentler Lasers

The development of new laser technologies is encouraging, especially the introduction of gentler tools that provide excellent results with less damage and downtime than original ablative lasers. While safe and effective, ablative lasers are harsh and indiscriminately remove layers of skin. The resulting wounds were at greater risk of infection and required a couple weeks of healing followed by months of redness. While these lasers generated good results for wrinkles, I searched for alternatives, as I would feel hesitant to undergo these types of procedures myself.

The cosmetic laser industry is exploding with new technologies and techniques, and I’ve taken a cautious wait-and-see approach. The truth is that the laser industry is supported by a lot of marketing but not a lot of regulation. Before I recommend or perform a laser procedure, I want to be sure I’m using credible and proven tools. I’m primarily interested in answering three questions: How safe is the product? How effective is the product? And how satisfied will the patient be with the results?

I’m impressed with a new laser advancement – the Lumenis UltraPulse Encore™ – which offers a far gentler approach to resurfacing and tightening skin and reducing wrinkles. The results have been exciting. The device works in microscopically pinpointed columns, affecting only a fraction of the skin. Consequently, the procedure is much more easily tolerated than ablative treatments, and healing is faster and easier, too. In fact, with UltraPulse, I regularly see just 5 days of social downtime – a considerable improvement.

Most patients will require 2 or 3 sessions that are spaced 4 to 6 months apart to get the results they want. The estimated total cost is roughly $7,000 for the full face, and the appearance of the skin will generally continue to improve during the first year after treatment ends. To maintain that fresh skin, it’s mandatory to use sun protection every day – rain or shine. I also recommend a skin care regimen that includes Retin-A®. Some of my patients also use Botox® treatments to support UltraPulse results. We’re not stopping the clock with these approaches, but we are turning it back quite a bit!

It’s wise to understand that these new laser procedures work best for those who don’t need a facelift but would appreciate improvement, or what is commonly known as “facial rejuvenation.” While lasers can definitely improve the quality of the skin (sunspots, texture, wrinkles) for a natural, youthful appearance, they do not impact the skin as much as a lift does. For those seeking significant skin tightening, nothing is as effective as a full surgical facelift.

If you’re considering laser for facial rejuvenation, be sure to consult a board-certified dermatologist in your research. The fact is, there is very little regulation on laser training, and these products can end up in inexperienced hands, causing less-than satisfactory results. So ask trusted sources, like close friends and family. Get recommendations from others who are pleased with their results. Consult the Web, and learn more about specific laser tools and what to expect before, during, and after treatment. And, finally, set realistic expectations.

Laser treatment isn’t going to be the most effective choice for everyone. Have your skin analyzed by a knowledgeable dermatologist prior to considering any treatment. Everyone has different needs, budgets, and schedules, and there are a variety of facial-improvement treatments that will fit the bill, whether you’re looking to erase acne scars or crows’ feet. When you understand the range of options appropriate for you, you’re more likely to get what you need – and be satisfied with the results.

Published on 01/11/2010 | Last updated on 12/20/2016