Patients routinely bring their skin concerns—cosmetic and medical—to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marguerite Germain and her staff at Germain Dermatology. The Charleston-based team explains that cool, mild winter months (no matter where you are) are an ideal time to try light and laser treatments for acne, skin damage, or visible vein reduction. A wide array of light and laser procedures are available to address a range of conditions, and the best one for a specific patient’s needs depends on the type of conditions or irregularities being targeted.
Depending on their wavelength, lasers are good for numerous skin concerns, including wrinkles, sun damage, age spots, hyperpigmentation, rosacea, broken capillaries, sagging skin, and unwanted hair. Note that it’s also important to consider skin tone and type when selecting a laser treatment, as some will be more suitable than others for certain people. Lasers and lights are non-surgical options, but there will be some prep work, recovery time, aftercare, and potential side effects involved.
To get you started, here are three conditions lasers are popularly used to address:
Acne outbreaks can be distressing and—in more severe cases—leave behind red blotches, blemishes, and scars. Many patients who suffer from acne also experience psychological effects, from stress to depression, depending on the severity of the problem. This highly common inflammatory skin condition is triggered when your pores are congested with a buildup of oils, dead skin cells, and bacteria, leading to inflammation and infections. Some milder acne outbreaks can be treated with over-the-counter products and lifestyle changes, but for more severe forms, it may be necessary to see a dermatologist. Ruptured cysts, for example, can produce scars.
Acleara is one option for treating this condition and can be used on patients with active breakouts. The treatment unclogs pores and reduces excess oil on the skin. Smoothbeam, Vbeam, and Gentle YAG lasers are also known to improve acne. They have the combined benefit of calming active flare-ups and gradually rebuilding the collagen structure to minimize acne-related scars. PhotoDynamic Therapy™, also referred to as Blu-U® Blue Light Therapy, is also used for acne. A topical agent is placed on the skin and activated with light energy. This has a number of benefits, including making pores smaller and limiting oil production.
Wrinkles and Texture Issues
Lasers are helpful for reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and crepey skin. These develop for a range of reasons, including aging, prolonged environmental damage, and repeated muscle movements. Older skin has fewer of the vital ingredients like collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid that keep young skin smooth and plump. Sun damage accelerates skin aging, as the UV radiation from sunlight weakens collagen fibers and it becomes difficult for the skin to spring back after being pulled or stretched.
Fractional lasers are ideal for improving wrinkles and saggy skin, with the energy they deliver triggering natural processes that rebuild collagen levels.
Rosacea is a disorder typically characterized by cycles of redness, bumps, and visible blood vessels appearing in the center of the face. Port wine stain birthmarks, scars, acne, and psoriasis can also cause red blotches. Dark patches sometimes develop from sun exposure and age. Laser treatments use a single, focused wavelength of light to impact the redness, breaking up pigmented cells for an ultimately clearer look. Intense pulsed light (IPL) flashes multiple, scattered bursts of broad-spectrum light for a similar effect. Once the heat reaches unwanted pigment in the skin, it is absorbed by lesions that are damaged and eventually eliminated.
This lightens and clears up the skin, creating a more even complexion. IPL treatments like Forever Young BBL™ give off smaller amounts of energy and are milder and gentler for the skin compared to traditional laser treatments. Fractional lasers like Sciton® Halo™ are another option for treating pigmentation irregularities. These lasers have dual benefits of improving the outer surface of the skin and encouraging new collagen generation in its deeper layers. They work by creating miniscule channels in the skin while leaving surrounding, healthy cells intact to repair the tiny wounds.
Want to learn more about laser treatments and other options? Talk to Charleston’s Dr. Marguerite Germain by sending a message or calling (843) 881-4440.