Not all lasers are for everyone. If you are interested in laser therapy for your skin to help with anti-aging, you need to read this. There seems to be more medical spas popping up offering laser treatments for a multitude of issues to improve skincare. Laser skin resurfacing removes the skin layer by layer. By essentially wounding the skin, this is a “natural” way to promote collagen production and turn over your skin cells for younger, brighter looking skin. While some treatments have no downtime and others have up to 4 weeks of downtime, navigating laser treatments can be difficult especially for African American women.
There are two categories of lasers: an ablative laser and a non-ablative laser. An ablative laser actually wounds your skin by delivering an intense wavelength of light to the skin. This will remove the outer layers or sun damaged or aging skin and allow new, younger skin to be seen. Non ablative lasers, like the ones used at Skin Laundry, a company that uses laser and light therapy to give facials, are far less invasive.
I spoke with Dr. Konstantin, board certified facial plastic surgeon based in New York City who explained the difference between laser and light therapy. “Laser and light are two different things. We have to separate those. Light therapy, I found to be absolutely fantastic as far as getting things done that laser cannot do. It’s not like one is just a lighter version of the other one. Light therapy takes care of certain things so much better than the laser can.” Beauties, this is important to know as they have different results. “Light therapy takes care of dark pigmented spots, often times much better than a laser. It takes care of the skin redness and those blood vessels much better than a laser. We use it often times instead of a laser or before a laser.”
However, while light therapy sounds amazing, Dr. Konstantin also shared with me the things it cannot do (but that a laser can). “It cannot smooth out the skin texture. Lasers are still indispensable. When someone’s texture, they have large pores or the texture is not quite there, they want to smooth it out, they want to polish it, laser is absolutely essential there.”
So what’s the difference? Dr. Konstantin explained, “Laser burns the skin and when the repair process happens, the skin happens to look good. Light on the other hand does not damage the skin. It creates the changes without causing the harm. I absolutely love it because it’s like you get all the benefits but you virtually have no downside for using the light.”
There are levels to this (and times when your skin actually may need the help). Before going to laser therapy, you may want to consider light therapy. Dr. Konstantin stated, “Laser therapy I would wait until at least someone is in their mid-30’s. There’s only so many of the lasers you should get in your lifetime. Every time somebody does the laser it causes changes in your skin and those changes can accumulate and at some point they can make your skin look worse than better.” Yes beauties, too much of this can be bad for you. “If you’ve seen those people with those old fashion, very strong lasers, their skin looks different. It looks pale. It just looks like it was treated with a laser. It looks like it was burned and it’s not coming back.” We don’t want that. If you’re in your 20s you can use light therapy for correction. “If you are doing something like light therapy, you can start it in your 20s, if you have a dark spot you want to get rid of, you can just do it, dilated blood vessels, things like that.”
There are lasers that are friendly, lasers we should stay away from, and specific questions you should ask your doctor before undergoing any procedure. We have you covered here! As always, do your own due diligence of research and don’t be afraid to ask your doctor anything!
Lasers to stay away from.
Empower yourself with the knowledge to know what lasers aren’t good for you. This way, when you walk into a doctor’s office, you have some idea of where your treatment plan should be going and if he suggests one of the below lasers, you know to leave.
IPL Laser is an intense pulse light laser that uses wavelengths of energy that are in the visible spectrum. This laser targets colors and structures in your skin. Think capillaries and brown spots. We spoke with Dr. Adam Geyer, Medical Director of Skin Laundry and he educated, “In darker skin tones we have to be very cautious about using IPL device because we don’t want to target the natural melanin in the skin.” This laser can actually create dark spots in darker skin tones.
Co2 Fraxil Lasers
“Co2 Fraxil Lasers are way more likely to cause pigmentation problems,” Dr. Konstantin explained. These lasers are known to cause problems with those with darker skin tones. These lasers are used to treat sun damage, fine lines, and wrinkles; however, they are not great for African-American skin.
Lasers That Are Safe For African-American Skin.
nd: YAG Laser
nd: YAG Laser is a fractional laser that stimulates collagen, builds elastin, and is safe in all skin types. Dr. Geyer explained, “it bypasses the big mutation of the surface of the skin to reach your dermal collagen by delivering heat and targeting the water inside your dermus.” This laser has also been around since 1964, so doctor’s have experience and know the results. This laser is also great for hair removal. Rachel Roff, Medical Esthetician and Founder of Urban Skin Rx and Urban Skin Solutions recommended the “1064 NM Yag Laser” for hair removal.
Clear And Brilliant Laser Treatment
This laser treatment uses pulsating beam of light to remove layers of skin resulting in a smoother texture and less acne. Rachel Roff shared, “for skin resurfacing and scarring, I recommend a Pixel or non-ablative Fraxel like the Clear and Brilliant Laser.” Roff has dedicated her life work for skincare solutions for darker pigmented skin.
Roff also gave her opinion that “no ablative laser treatments are safe for keloid prone skin such as laser hair removal. However, keep in mind that if the client has an adverse reaction such as a burn, the area could keloid. So laser treatments are only safe for keloid prone skin if done correctly.”
Before Your Laser Treatment.
You should prep your skin prior to your laser treatment. Roff shared, “It’s important to pre-treat the skin with melanin suppressing ingredients for 2-4 weeks prior to a skin resurfacing treatment (not needed for laser hair removal) by using ingredients such as Kojic Acid, Hydroquinone, Vitamin C 10% or stronger.” Roff recommended Urban Skin Rx Eventone Cleansing Bar ($14.99, ulta.com), Eventone Night Treatment ($68.00, urbanskinrx.com), and Super C Brightening Serum ($58.00, urbanskinrx.com). I have used the cleansing bar and can say it’s great for your skin. The Super C Brightening Serum is one of my favorite serums and smells like oranges and is great to wake you and your skin up in the morning.
Questions To Ask The Doctor
Dr. Konstantin expressed the importance of having a doctor that has experience with African American skin and darker skin tones. He shared that you should ask, “os this laser good for my particular skin type?” He also added, “just to make sure, somebody should say, ‘What are the chances that this laser will start pigmentation problems?'”
Roff shares that you should “Check reviews, check credentials of the person performing the procedure.” Don’t be afraid to go deep! This is your skin and your face and you deserve to be protected. “Ask them how many clients with the same skin type as you have they treated. Also ask for before and after pictures of clients with your skin tone.” Both of these questions should provide you with the knowledge of whether you want this practitioner to administer the procedure.
Also, just go with your gut. If you aren’t comfortable with the doctor or don’t like the office or find it clear, find someone else. Lasers are a medical procedure at the end of the day and should be treated with the seriousness of such.
Beauties, have you gotten a laser treatment? For what? Why? Share with us in the comment section.
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