Laser FAQ's

Understanding BBL™ Laser Science

Q: What is the science behind how BBL™ (broadband light) laser technology works?

A: Broadband light energy gently heats targeted layers of your skin. This photothermal energy is finely tuned and set to varying wavelengths to precisely target pigmented and vascular lesions.

BBL™ laser light technology is attracted to the darker pigments (red or brown color) in your skin. The laser energy breaks up small surface blood vessels (from rosacea or spider veins) and brown spots (from age, sun damage, melasma, and unwanted hair follicles).

As a side benefit, BBL™ energy absorbed by the targeted areas stimulates your skin cells to regenerate new collagen foundation. This creates increased skin firmness.

When treating acne, BBL™ wavelength settings are tuned to enable controlled heating of your sub-epidermal skin layers. This leads to collagen remodeling, proliferation of active fibroblasts, and treatment of over-active sebaceous glands. Thus, this non-ablative laser therapy results in both reduction of acne and some minor improvement in acne scarring.

 

BBL™ Treatment is Quick and Mild

Q: What can I expect during my BBL™ photofacial or acne treatment sessions?

A: You can expect the following things to occur during your treatment with intense pulsed broadband light:

  • You wear protective eyewear throughout your session.
  • We also recommend keeping your eyes closed. The laser pulsed light is quite bright and, similar to a strobe light. The bright flashes may give you a temporary headache.
  • Generally, you need no anesthetic, but for some more sensitive spots, we offer topical anesthetic to minimize your discomfort.
  • Throughout the procedure, as the laser’s energy is absorbed by the targeted areas, you feel a mildly uncomfortable sensation similar to a “rubber band snap”.
  • Treatment time varies based on the area(s) selected, but your appointment can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes.

 

Acne Scars Treated with Profractional™ Laser

Q: How do I erase the "pitted" look of my acne scars? Do I have any hope of having smooth facial skin?

A: Yes, you do have hope of significantly reducing if not completely eliminating your acne scars. Because there are different types of acne scars, different patients may require different combinations of treatment.

The 3 basic types of acne scars are:

  • Small diameter, shallow scars (Type 1)
  • Small diameter, deep scars (Type 2)
  • Large diameter, deep scars (Type 3)

These scars can occur anywhere on the face or body that you have had significant acne issues. For facial acne scarring, most commonly present on the cheeks and/or chin, fractional laser resurfacing is most effective. At Aesthetic Surgery & Skin Rejuvenation Center, we primarily use the Sciton® Pro-Fractional™ laser for acne scarring treatments.

Type 1 scars respond well to the Pro-Fractional™ laser alone. Type 3 scars are best treated with Pro-Fractional™ or Contour TRL™ full resurfacing laser because of the deeper nature of the scars. Alternatively, some Type 3 scars can be effectively treated with injections of dermal fillers such as Restylane or JUVEDERM®.

Type 2 scars you may also hear referred to as "ice pick" scars. These may be removed by punch excision or treated with the CROSS technique, in which a tiny droplet of a chemical peel acid is placed in each scar. The acid solution "dissolves" the scar; the scar is filled in as it heals

 

Face and Body Hair Growth Cycles

Q: What is the active growth phase of my hair and why does it matter?

A: Your hair’s active growth cycle matters because for hair reduction to be effective, the hair in your selected treatment area must be in the anagen active growth phase.

Hair growth occurs in specific cycles of various phases that are driven by genetics and differ by body area. There are three separate and concurrent phases:

  • Anagen - the growth phase
  • Catagen - the involuting or regressing phase
  • Telogen - the resting or quiescent phase

All three phases occur simultaneously; one strand of hair may be in the anagen phase, while an adjacent strand is in the telogen phase. At any given time, up to 90% of hair follicles are in anagen, while 10–14% are in telogen, and 1–2% are in catagen.


A Real Look at Laser Skin Rejuvenation Results

Q: How long do results last?

A: For hair reduction BBL™ laser therapy, your results should have a long-lasting effect.

This assumes most of your treatments occur when a high percentage of your hair follicles in the treated area are in the anagen growth phase. For most facial and body (androgenic) hair, this phase lasts roughly 2-3 weeks. Read more about hair growth cycles.

As such, we plan the interval frequency of your treatments to best match the hair growth cycle of the area you are having treated.
Or, you may need some final touch-up service following your initial treatment series. This should catch “straggler” hairs that were outside of the active growth phase during earlier treatments.

For all other BBL™ and ablative laser therapies, the length of your results varies widely depending on your vigilance in caring for and protecting your skin afterward.

Laser treatments effectively turn back the clock on the age and look of your skin, producing real and noticeable improvements. They do this by erasing red or brown marks of age and sun damage, peeling away blemishes, resurfacing texture irregularities, refining fine lines, and smoothing wrinkles.

Laser treatments can tighten loose skin and remove unwanted hair growth (including that which occurs later in life). As with cosmetic surgical procedures, laser treatments, do not stop the ongoing aging process. But you always look better after your treatment, than if you didn't do the treatment at all!

Your commitment to ongoing skin care is crucial to maintaining the revitalized look of your skin as long as possible.

Your role:

  • For at least 2 months post-laser treatment or series, use skin protection containing a high percentage of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, such as our Total Protection sunscreen. This acts as a physical barrier to the sun's damaging rays. After this early healing period, wear a daily sunscreen with both UVA and UVB spectrum protection such as our MAC·MD aesthetics™ Hydrate SPF45.
  • Give your skin protection from the sun using sunglasses, wide-brimmed sun hats, and cover-up clothing to protect shoulders and chest.
  • Adopt an effective daily anti-aging home skin care routine.
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Michael Macdonald, M.D.
500 Sutter Street
Suite 430
San Francisco, CA 94102