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Lasers are astounding. They are essentially devices that emit beams of light, and have no shortage of applications in the real world. From serving as a harmless toy for cats, to cutting through thick sheets of metal, it comes as no surprise that lasers have many practical applications in the medical field as well.
Some of the medical applications of lasers include correcting vision via eye surgery, destroying cancerous tumors, and breaking up kidney stones. Lasers are also extremely beneficial when it comes to skin care as well, being used to treat conditions such as acne, wrinkles, hair removal, and even body fat reduction. In 2017, laser-based medical procedures grew over 17% according to the ASDS, and have been consistently increasing in popularity for many years. These procedures are clearly in high demand – but there are also a few misconceptions about these procedures that you may not be aware of. Here are 4 common myths about laser treatments:
The concept of lasers for skin treatments is simple – use the beam of light to improve the skin and remove things we don’t want. You’ve probably heard of many different lasers that all say they can reduce wrinkles or brighten up your skin tone; however, this does not mean that lasers are a “one size fits all” deal.
The laser being used must match your exact skin type, color, and condition. A laser that works for one person does NOT mean that it will work for a second person, even if they are both getting the exact same condition treated. Different lasers must be used in order to treat the huge variety of skin types that are available, as well as the severity of the treated condition. Even if two people are receiving the same exact laser, the settings can differ as well. For instance, one person may require a stronger pulse while the other may require a wider beam that is less aggressive. Looking at many before and after photos of a laser can give you an idea of whether or not that device may be suitable for you.
While it is true that lasers can be used as weaponry, and are a favorite of many comic book superheroes and popular movie villains, a correctly performed laser treatment should not be painful. During treatment, many patients report a slight feeling that is comparable to a rubber band being snapped against the skin. Many of these same patients also report getting used to this feeling within a few minutes and not feeling it as much anymore. Other patients even report that the sensation may feel a bit cool and tingly as well.
For lasers that contain a bit more strength, or when being used on sensitive skin areas, topical anesthetic can be applied, and is also available per patient request as well. Laser procedures from an experienced physician that are being correctly performed should NOT involve any burning or intense levels of pain during treatment. This leads us into the third misconception…
When it comes to laser treatments, the person behind the device is more important than the laser itself. Lasers are variable, and need to be adjusted to match your exact skin type, texture, and condition that are all unique to you.
Additionally, it is also a matter of patient safety. While medical spas and other locations without a licensed physician on site may offer laser treatments for a lower price, the staff may have less experience with these lasers and/or skin variations. When used incorrectly, lasers can cause lasting harm such as scarring, burning, and permanent nerve damage. Unfortunately, botched laser procedures do happen, and almost always involves a person performing the treatment without the adequate knowledge that’s required.
A licensed physician who has had extensive experience with many different skin variations, and who understands the techniques of the laser being used, will give you the best chance of obtaining your desired result. Receiving your treatment from a properly certified physician also ensures that you are being safely treated at all times. When it comes to your health and safety, would you want to risk permanent damage only to save a small amount of money?
Lasers have come a long way since their initial conception in 1960. Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, especially during our era, and lasers are no exception. Existing lasers are being improved upon, and brand new ones continue to enter the market. It may be tempting to opt for the latest device that is constantly being advertised your way, but remember that like most new things, it has not had the benefit of time yet.
While it is true that new devices are thoroughly tested and inspected before being publically available, the sample size is much smaller when compared to the mass public. Certain side effects or varied results may appear when applied to public use that did not manifest during testing due to the smaller sample size. On the other hand, a laser that has been available for a longer time has treated hundreds of thousands of patients, and has extensive documentation and reviews available for you to research.
Additionally, because that laser is brand new, this means that the person conducting the treatment is also new to the device. Lasers are NOT universal, and being well experienced in one laser does not necessarily translate to another device. Proper training and experience with using the selected device is still required in order to ensure best results, as well as safety – both of which can only develop after having spent a lot of time with said device.
The purpose of this information is not to scare you away from receiving your desired treatment – but simply to ensure that you are well informed. Knowing what to look for when choosing your provider for your laser treatment helps ensure that you will reach your skin goals easily and to their full potential. Instead of trying to decide which specific laser to get for yourself, try to focus on what your intended goals are, and which laser is the best candidate for you. For even more information about laser skin treatments, click here.
Dr. Behroozan has a number of lasers available to treat many different conditions at the Dermatology Institute of Southern California, and is always available to discuss what your options are to meet your needs. Our dermatology team is excited to help you on your skin care journey, and contacting us is just one click away!