Although I like to think I take pretty good care of my skin, as I finish out my 30s I’m becoming more and more interested in treatments that go beyond what I can buy at my local beauty store. Laser skin treatments keep popping up on my radar; I often read about celebs doing them or have friends reveal the ones they swear by. So i decided it was time to get some more info. For that, I turned to Dr. Jessica Krant of the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York, who was kind of enough to answer all my burning questions (no pun intended!) about laser skin treatments. Get the scoop below:
SheFinds: Can you explain what exactly laser skin treatments can do?
Dr. Jessica Krant: Lasers and other light-based devices such as broadband light (BBL) and intense pulsed light (IPL) create controlled injury in the skin in various ways. This is intended to trigger healing and create the results we look for. Some lasers and light-based devices just heat the skin surface. Others create microthermal zones under the surface either in an ablative (tissue is removed) or nonablative (tissue just heated but stays in place) manner. These are high technology treatments that, in the right, well trained and educated hands, can create great results.
SF: Are all women good candidates for laser skin treatments? Are some people better suited for laser treatments than others?
JK: All women are potential candidates for laser skin treatments. There are many factors that go into whether someone is a “good” candidate. Some skin types have a narrower “therapeutic window,” meaning it is trickier to treat to a good result without causing injury. This is generally true of darker skin types. but anyone with Asian ancestry may have unexpectedly tricky skin to treat. It’s important to be treated by someone very experienced, highly trained, and well-educated because lasers are not just kitchen gadgets. They can cause real injury.
SF: What should women know about caring for their skin after a laser treatment?
JK: Different laser treatments require different specific after care, but generally, staying out of the sun after a laser treatment is important. After some laser treatments, we want you to moisturize, and after others we may not. Some laser treatments create scabbing, others just dryness and peeling, and some may create no visible after effects at all, but are still working. One thing important to know is that complicated infections can be triggered by the more aggressive types of laser treatments, so if after several days feeling fine, pain suddenly increases, or the skin looks worse after it had been looking better, see your laser physician.
SF: What are the most popular laser treatments? Why do you think these are most popular?
JK: Laser “facials” are popular, but this is just a marketing term and does not really explain which type of treatment is being done or which laser is being used. They may range from IPL and “laser heating” treatments, to nonablative fractional resurfacing, or more. All of these types of treatments have benefits and will be marketed under completely different names by different offices. Ablative resurfacing is more expensive, more involved, and higher risk, with more downtime, but in good hands, the results are also more dramatic. Other popular laser treatments of course include tattoo removal, laser treatments for acne, and laser hair removal.
SF: Kim Kardashian recently revealed she had stretch marks removed and many women were surprised this was even possible. Is this something a laser skin treatment can do?
JK: Certain types of stretch marks can be improved by certain lasers. This is very individual and highly dependent on the type of skin, type of stretch mark, age of stretch mark, skin quality, skin color, and laser devices available. Some faint, very fine line stretch marks can be significantly improved, whereas thicker, wider, older stretch marks may not budge much. For sure it is important to know that any laser treatment for stretch marks takes many sessions and may be expensive.
SF: What’s the one thing you wish more women knew about laser skin treatments?
JK: Lasers come in a wide variety of result, and a wide variety of risk. It’s very important to know exactly which type of device you are being treated with, and why it is the right choice for your skin. Educate yourself on devices offered and ask plenty of questions. The person treating you should absolutely know how to manage any complication or problem that may arise from their treatment, and if they do not, you should not accept the treatment there. State laws vary about who is allowed to operate a laser. In some jurisdictions, governments didn’t really understand what they were allowing to slip through the cracks when they approved certain treatments, not realizing that it would allow other less safe treatments to get done as well.