Zap it, tighten it, brighten and exfoliate it. When it comes to facial laser treatments, there are several options and factors to consider. Many people seek treatments to address everything from diminishing wrinkles and sun damage to improving skin elasticity and texture. And with all the lasers on the market, there is a device for every skin issue.
Here are just the top 10 most researched facial lasers from 2017 according to the latest RealSelf Laser & Energy Report.
Having such a great number of options for laser treatments makes it even more important to understand exactly what your skin type and needs are.
Overwhelmed? Don’t worry. We talked with Dr. Thomas Buonassisi, a board-certified facial and reconstructive surgeon in Vancouver, and Dr. Michele Green, a New York dermatologist, about how to find the best facial laser treatment for you.
What is the most important question you should think about when considering a facial laser treatment?
Dr. Green: What is your skin type and concern? Are you concerned with jowls and interested in skin tightening? Are you concerned about pigmentation and want to have Fraxel done to erase the sun damage? If broken blood vessels bother you, consider V-Beam laser. You should also understand that some laser facial treatments have no downtime, and others can have a week of recovery, and that certain lasers should not be used if you have darker skin.
Dr. Buonassisi: Will this facial laser treatment meet my objectives? There have been many advancements with laser and device-based treatments, giving patients and treatment providers more options than ever. It can be difficult for patients to figure out what will work for their specific needs. Marketing tactics can make things more challenging. The term “nonsurgical facelift” is commonly used, which is misleading patients to believe they can get the same result as a facelift with a laser or device. At my practice, we see an increasing number of patients who need a facelift but want a laser, so educating them about their objectives versus realistic expected results is critical.
What are some of the most popular facial laser treatments?
Dr. Buonassisi: In my practice, we address common skin concerns with a variety of different lasers and devices, often on their own or in conjunction with surgery. As far as most popular goes, we have had a great deal of success with the Halo hybrid fractional laser by Sciton. Patients love the dramatic improvement they experience in visible sun damage, with just one treatment and little downtime. There are other treatments that are popular depending on what skin challenge the patient is hoping to treat.
For patients who want to clear up their skin of hyperpigmented brown areas as visible sun damage, our BBL (BroadBand Light) is a popular choice. The technology used is IPL (intense pulse light), and while not actually a laser, this device-based treatment is quick with no downtime, and patients see a satisfying improvement over the course of two or three treatments.
Laser skin resurfacing smoothes the outside layers of the skin to improve the appearance of static fine lines and wrinkles, the ones that are there when our face is at rest. Very popular among my facelift patients is Contour TRL, which is full-field resurfacing. Full-field means that 100 percent of the skin is removed, down to a depth that I determine.
As we age, our skin gets thinner. Skin-tightening treatments work by heating the skin with infrared technology to stimulate collagen production. Our patients really enjoy SkinTyte as it isn’t painful, has no downtime, and they see a subtle improvement in their skin texture over a few treatments.
Patients are always looking for ways to age more slowly. Treatments like the Forever Young BBL are shown to actually change the way aging-related genes are expressed. Forever Young BBL has no downtime and is performed two to three times per year to keep the skin clear of reds and brows related to sun exposure and continually stimulate collagen. This is a breakthrough treatment that anyone who wants their skin to age more slowly should consider. Of course, sunscreen is a must.
Related: 7 expert tips for extra glowy skin.
What are a few things a provider will make sure the patient knows before committing to a facial laser treatment?
Dr. Green: The patient should understand the recovery time and what preparation may be needed for their skin.
Dr. Buonassisi: A discussion of the potential risks and complications should be a standard part of any quality laser consultation. Please disclose any medications you are taking, as these can make you photosensitive. Disclosing sun exposure is also important. Fifteen minutes in the sun might not seem like much, but your treatment provider needs to know if they are to treat you safely.
What is the most common concern the patient has? How do you reassure them?
Dr. Green: The most important thing that concerns patients is not having any side effects. It is very important to choose an expert in facial lasers to have the best cosmetic result, especially with darker skin tones.
Dr. Buonassisi: Will I be happy with my results? When these things are in place, satisfaction with results is very high: The practice offers a quality consulting process; the practice has vast experience and many choices to offer; and patients have the information they need to make an educated decision.
The relationship between the patient and the treatment provider is paramount. Chances are, if you are realistic and reasonable and still unhappy with your results, your practice will work with you to repeat the treatment or try something different. View your treatment provider as an expert who will provide long-term care for your skin. Over time, you will get to know each other well, and your provider will learn what works for your skin and what doesn’t.