Cosmetic Lasers 101: What to Know Before You Go

Looking to rejuvenate your appearance but scared of going under the knife? You’re not alone.

The number of people undergoing nonsurgical cosmetic treatments and laser treatments has increased dramatically over the last decade, says Adam J. Wulkan, MD, a Lahey Health dermatologist. Thanks to rapidly advancing technology, medical providers are better able to customize treatments to patients’ individual needs — a practice that’s becoming the new normal.

“I believe in taking a holistic look at a person’s appearance and creating a plan designed to best optimize treatments that address that patient’s concerns,” Dr. Wulkan said. “Truthfully, very few people have just one area of concern. Most patients exhibit multiple signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, texture, tone, red and brown spots, and overall loss of fat. With current technology, we’re able to address multiple concerns in fewer visits.”

Dr. Wulkan, a board-certified dermatologist who studied lasers and cosmetics during his fellowship at Harvard University, is the Director of Laser and Cosmetics at the new Lahey Health Hub at MarketStreet in Lynnfield, and he says that he’s excited about the opportunity to help people boost their confidence by refreshing their appearance.

“Regardless of what treatments are performed,” he said, “my job is to ensure that patients leave the office looking natural and feeling their best.”

The Right Laser Treatment for You

At the Laser & Cosmetic Dermatology Center, Dr. Wulkan will use a variety of laser- and light-based treatments:

  • Fraxel Dual Laser Treatment: This one is designed to treat fine lines, textural changes, scars and brown spots. It works by placing microscopic laser columns into your skin, allowing for tissue remodeling and collagen generation.
  • Pulsed Dye Laser Treatment: The most common applications for this laser treatment target red or vascular concerns, such as redness on the cheeks from rosacea and acne scarring. It’s considered the gold standard treatment for most red and vascular concerns. It is also used to treat many noncosmetic concerns, such as port-wine stains and hemangiomas, (abnormal lumps of blood vessels). This treatment targets problem areas without damaging surrounding tissue.
  • GentleMax Pro 755/1064 nm Treatment: While this treatment is most commonly associated with laser hair removal, its optimal wavelengths can be used for other applications, too, such as freckles and spider veins.
  • Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Treatment: Want to eliminate those pesky brown and red spots? This treatment does just that by using multiple wavelengths to treat skin changes and damages caused by the sun.

Now that you know a little more about each option, Dr. Wulkan suggests going a step further and researching who will be performing the treatment on you. Because when it comes to your skin, he says treatments are generally safer when performed by the right hands.

“It’s important to see someone you trust, such as a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon who is well trained and respected in the medical community,” Dr. Wulkan said. “That means doing research and knowing your provider’s credentials.”

Laws vary by state, Dr. Wulkan adds, which means the legal barrier to performing laser and cosmetic treatments is generally very low.

“Trusting your skin to a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon is essential,” he said.

When to Start Treatment

With millennials pushing the prejuvenation approach — essentially taking advantage of cosmetic procedures to stop signs of aging before they happen — to the forefront, Dr. Wulkan says there’s no reason to wait if you want to rejuvenate your look.

“People of all ages are doing things to anticipate and prevent the aging process,” he said. “We all know we’re going to get wrinkles and spots, but with prejuvenation, we can be proactive instead of reactive.”

The most popular prejuvenation treatments include neurotoxins, such as Botox, to relax muscles and prevent wrinkles, and non-ablative Fraxel treatments to restore collagen. Ideally, Dr. Wulkan says taking advantage of these treatments early on can prevent the need for more intense procedures later in life.

No matter what treatments you choose, though, he adds that it’s critically important to protect your investment with sunscreen.

And while there’s a wide world of nonsurgical cosmetic procedures awaiting you, Dr. Wulkan recommends you take your time, do your homework, and ensure that you are choosing the right provider to best treat your specific concerns.

*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.

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