Facial Laser: What It Is & How It Can Benefit You

Facial Laser: What It Is & How It Can Benefit You

Laser facials have recently become the go-to solution for those suffering with skin ageing issues. It’s claimed that in just one session they can boost collagen production, treat existing pigmentation and refine uneven texture – so it’s no wonder these non-surgical treatments are booming. But what do they really do? Leading laser expert Debbie Thomas explains all.
Photography: iSTOCK/ANDRESR

First Things First, Can You Explain What Facial Laser Is?

Lasers are light-based devices that use concentrated filtered light to trigger – or cause – several reactions within the skin. Our skin is photosensitive, which means light triggers reactions, in the same way the sun’s light stimulates vitamin D synthesis. While we generally think of lasers as being for the face, they are in fact suitable to use on skin all over the body, it’s just that facial treatments are by far the most popular.

There Are Several Types Of Laser – Can You Break Them Down?

There are several subtypes, and it’s worth knowing what each one means. For starters, ‘non-ablative lasers’ mean they don’t break or physically remove your skin. There are lots of different lasers in this group and, depending on the subtype, we would be targeting pigmentation, veins, rosacea, open pores and fine lines. The process triggers reactions to boost collagen, reduce sensitivity and promote overall skin health. Non-ablative lasers are the most popular as they need barely any recovery time and have very low risk attached to them. Next up, ‘ablative lasers’ – these do physically blast layers of skin away. They can either be gentle or incredibly aggressive. More popular in recent years, they work by burning little pinpricks of skin rather than entire layers. However, this gentler option does mean results take more time to accumulate. This type of laser is used to improve skin quality and texture. Finally, IPL (intense pulsed light) is the third type of laser which has interchangeable filters to target a variety of issues. The only downside is that it’s a bit more unpredictable, so it does need a very experienced practitioner. It is also unsuitable for darker skin tones, except in very rare cases. 

Why Is It So Recommended For Mature Skin?

The great thing about a bespoke laser treatment is that, within just one session, we can stimulate collagen production, while also zapping issues like spider veins, unwanted hair and pigmentation. In short, that’s practically everything that bothers us as we go into our 50s and beyond. Aside from quick wins, why I rate laser for mature skin is for the long-term benefits it offers. There’s no doubt it improves skin health and, I mean it when I say, my clients who have laser definitely age slower than their friends, while still looking natural.

You Briefly Mentioned Recovery Time – Typically, How Long Is This Post-Laser?

To understand potential downtime, it pays to know how lasers work. Each type of laser allows a specific wavelength of light to hit targeted areas of the skin. One of three reactions is triggered: a thermal reaction, a mechanical reaction or a chemical reaction. The most common is a thermal one; this is when a selected part of the skin is targeted, the light is then absorbed within this area, turning it to heat which either destroys or cauterises the specific cells. Likewise, the heat can be used to trigger the regeneration within the skin, resulting in more efficient skin renewal – think more collagen and new, healthier skin cells. With all this in mind, there is some recovery time but it varies a lot between types of treatment and the areas we are targeting. With the bulk of treatments, skin returns to normal – but better, of course – between 12 and 72 hours; whereas with some treatments, you may have to wait five to 10 days for skin to settle fully.

So, That’s Downtime Covered, What About Pain Levels During Treatment?

Modern treatments are much more precise than older machines. This means less collateral damage, which means less discomfort for clients, less recovery time and better results. That said, don’t expect a spa treatment. There will be certain points where you’ll experience some uncomfortable zapping sensations. For the majority of laser treatments, this ‘hot elastic band flick’ sensation is over as quickly as it started.

The great thing about a bespoke laser treatment is that, within just one session, we can stimulate collagen production, while also zapping issues like spider veins, unwanted hair and pigmentation.
Debbie Thomas

In Terms Of Sessions, How Many Are Required To See Results?

It does often take a course of treatments to get the best result, as well as maintenance treatments to keep impacts at their best, though this is more key if you have a condition like acne. Typically, sessions depend on what’s being treated but, for things like boosting collagen, I would plan for six sessions at three to six week intervals. I expect to start seeing results after the third session. For age management, I tend to recommend one treatment per decade each year – so for instance, 50-year-olds should aim for five treatments per year. There are always exceptions to the rules, however, so having a good and experienced practitioner will be key to successful treatment and maintenance.

Can Everyone Try Laser, Or Should Some Avoid It Altogether? 

The only contraindications for these types of treatments would be those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or undergoing medical treatment – unless permission is obtained from the treating physician. It is, however, worth noting that certain types of laser are only suitable for certain skin types or colours. As there are so many devices on the market, the best way to ensure you’re getting the right treatment for you is by going for a consultation with an experienced professional. They will assess your skin and concerns, then discuss which options are available to you.

Finally, Aside From Skin Type & Tone, Are There Any Other Things To Consider Pre-Laser?

Before trying laser, I think everyone should know that it’s not a magic wand. While it is possible to get some incredible results – and quickly – it is more likely you’ll get results over a number of sessions, so patience is required. Another key thing is to go to someone experienced. It doesn’t matter what machine is being used, if you don’t have a good practitioner, the treatment won’t be worth anything. It’s also important to see a specialist because, if there are any reactions, they can manage the recovery process. To find someone good, I always say go by personal recommendations. Likewise, my biggest tip is to go to at least three varying clinics for different consultations. This will allow you to get a good feel for who is most in tune with your needs. Look for a clinic with several different devices, too. If they only have one, it will be much harder to treat a good selection of concerns, so things could be limited and they may not be able to target specific needs.” 

5 Top Places To Try For Laser

  1. Debbie Thomas Specialist Skin Clinic, DThomas.com

  2. Eudelo Clinic, Eudelo.com 

  3. Skin Laundry Laser, UK-Booking.SkinLaundry.com 

  4. Sk:N Clinics Nationwide, SknClinics.co.uk 

  5. EF Medispa, EFMedispa.com

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