If you’re looking for a beauty treatment with instant results, laser treatments are one of them.
Dr Lam Bee Lan from Ageless Medical categorises laser treatments into two broad categories: ablative and non-ablative. “Ablative laser’s intense wavelength removes the outer layer of old/damaged/pigmented skin and stimulate collagen production to tighten and smoothen skin [while] non-ablative laser work beneath the surface skin layer to stimulate collagen growth and improve skin tone.”
But are all laser treatments suitable for everyone and can you jump right back into your usual skincare regime after a treatment? We asked Dr Lam, Dr Gerard Ee from Clifford Clinic and Dr Benjamin Yim from IDS Clinic for answers.
First up, are laser treatments suitable for everyone?
There are different types of lasers available, so before you go for one, find out exactly what treatment you’re going for. Currently, the types of laser treatments in the market range from tattoo removal to skin rejuvenation.
Dr Ee says that non-ablative lasers to remove unwanted brown spots, freckles or tattoos are gentle and safe enough for pregnant ladies and breastfeeding mothers. However, ablative lasers such as Fraxel and CO2 albative are not suitable for patients with eczema as they penetrate deeper into the skin and might cause discomfort post-treatment.
Dr Yim cautions that patients with darker skin should avoid laser treatments. He says, “The melanin in the skin will compete with the targets for the light energy, resulting in burns and darkening after the skin injury.”
Dr Lam adds, “Lasers should be used with caution in patients with Fitzpatrick skin type 5 or 6.” She adds that those with medical conditions that can result in poor wound healing, such as those with diabetes, keloid or vitiligo, or had isotretinoin usage in past three months, active infection or inflammation in the treatment area, should also avoid lasers.
Can I go for a laser treatment if I don’t have any skin concerns?
Dr Yim says, “Lasers can be used for skin rejuvenation to brighten and even out the skin tone.” He adds, One can start at any age as long as it is for the correct medical indication.”
Dr Ee agrees, “Think of gentle lasers as a facial. You can undergo laser skin treatment even if you have healthy skin as they promote skin radiance.”
Are there any side effects of going for laser treatments?
Depending on your skin’s condition, you might experience one or more of these:
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
- Reactivation of cold sores
- Darkening of the skin
- Burns especially ablative lasers
Dr Yim cautions, “One should consult the doctor first and make sure the indication is correct for treatment. The physician should explain the process and manage the expectations of the patient. Many of the physicians using lasers are certified by the Ministry of Health. It is good to check on the experience of the doctor and get the doctor to explain the possible side effects of the treatment.”
What should one do if my skin flares up after a laser treatment?
It’s normal to experience mild redness and tenderness that will subside in a few days, says Dr Ee. “However, if the situation is severe and persists for more than a few days, one should consult a dermatologist immediately.”
Dr Yim adds that a doctor can prescribe mild steroid creams to treat and control the inflammation. As your skin becomes sensitive, Dr Yim also advises avoiding the sun and applying sunblock if you’re going out.
Dr Lam suggests applying a cold compress or ice pack to reduce inflammation. “Your skin will also feel dry so it is important to apply moisturiser. A lack of moisture post-treatment can cause the skin to scab and may even delay or compromise the healing process.” Have a breakout? That’s expected. “Breakouts may happen because hundreds of tiny channels have been opened in the skin during the laser treatment. Breakouts typically heal up within 36 to 48 hours after a laser treatment. Avoid heavy moisturiser or makeup because the skin can get clogged up and cause more,” she says.
What does a laser treatment actually do to your skin?
Dr Yim lists five things that a laser treatment can do:
- Target unwanted pigmentation on the skin.
- Permanently remove hair on the skin.
- Reduce redness and unwanted tiny blood vessel on the skin.
- Stimulate collagen production, leading to reduction in fine lines and open pores.
- Tightening of the skin, leading to improvement in acne scars.
Can I start my normal skincare routine right after doing a laser treatment?
“For non-ablative lasers, patients can return to their normal skincare routine immediately post treatment. As for ablative lasers, patients would have to avoid putting on makeup and other cosmetic products for the next two days. Doctors may prescribe some medication after the treatment to help ease discomfort,” Dr Ee says.
Dr Lam cautions that one must avoid the sun a week before and after laser. “It is important to keep the skin hydrated to allow the epidermis to grow and heal faster, so gentle products that contain peptides are recommended.” She also suggests avoiding active ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids and retinol. “Do speak to your aesthetics doctor about specific product recommendations based on the type of laser treatment received,” she advises.
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