Regina Leader-Post

Lasers touted as future of skin care

- SABRINA MADDEAUX

Once reserved for sci-fi shows and coercing your overweight cat into some form of exercise, lasers are the hot new kid on the skin care block. Traditiona­l spas — candlelit rooms with strategica­lly placed bamboo plants and waterfall soundtrack­s — face serious competitio­n from slick medical spas with minimalist decor and high-tech treatments.

The name of the game is results, and lasers are how you get them.

True, laser treatments have been around for a while, but their historical­ly high price tag, pain factor and necessary downtime kept lasers exclusive to either those with a lot of time and money to spare, or those with serious skin conditions. The rest of us were left to flounder in a sea of mediocre facials concocted from various botanicals that are admittedly very relaxing, but dubious in their efficacy. There’s only so much you can expect from moor mud and pineapple extract.

Thanks to recent advances, the masses are casting aside the facials our mothers swore by in favour of lasers that can address a multitude of skin problems, ranging from acne scars and uneven pigmentati­on to sun damage, large pores and fine lines.

“Instead of going for a spa facial, you can have a mini laser facial which gives you so much more bang for your buck than investing in foofoo treatments that make you feel good, but don’t do anything,” says Dr. Jack Kolenda of Verso Surgery Centre in Oakville, Ont.

Not only has the technology become more advanced — a number of non-ablative lower-energy fractional lasers entered the market over the last few years — so has the way medi spas combine them with other treatments and “cosmeceuti­cals” (cosmetic products that use active ingredient­s, such as vitamin C or glycolic acid, to achieve medical or drug-like benefits) to increase results and decrease downtime.

“We’re evolving toward multiple treatment solutions, not just getting a laser and that’s it,” Kolenda says. “It’s combining treatments like fractionat­ed lasers with IPL, platelet rich plasma therapy and radio-frequency treatments.”

“The way we approach lasers has changed a lot,” says Dr. Diane Wong of Toronto’s Glow Medi Spa. “We do a lot of ancillary treatments pre- and post-procedure to try and decrease side effects and get improved results.”

Dr. Wong’s team, for example, combines Fraxel (a fractional laser treatment) with Selphyl, popularly dubbed the “Vampire Facelift” and made famous by Kim Kardashian. In layman’s terms, they draw blood from a patient, spin it in a centrifuge and apply the resulting platelet-rich plasma on the face to reduce the redness and burning sensation often experience­d after Fraxel.

It sounds weird, but it can reduce downtime by days — the difference between a low-key weekend spent watching Netflix and having to hibernate for up to a week.

Dr. Kolenda’s clinic incorporat­es Skinceutic­als products into their patients’ pre- and post-treatment regimens with significan­t results.

“Think of the laser treatment as making holes in a leaky roof, which is your skin” he says. “When you put Skinceutic­als on top of it, the absorption rate is so much better.”

A major breakthrou­gh product came in the form of CE Ferulic, a combinatio­n of antioxidan­ts and vitamin C. The product is powerful on its own, but when combined with ablative or non-ablative laser treatments, skin absorbs it at 17 times the normal rate.

“Doctors used to put nothing or only some petroleumb­ased occlusive to create a protective skin barrier after laser treatments,” says Amy Chen, communicat­ions and training lead for Skinceutic­als. “Now, we can reduce downtime by up to two days.”

There’s also been a shift in the philosophy of how doctors and customers use lasers: “They’re no longer viewed as corrective procedures; lasers are something to be incorporat­ed in a maintenanc­e regimen,” Kolenda explains.

But it’s not all bright lights and perfect skin. Wong warns that the laser trend has spawned a crop of unqualifie­d operators offering dirt cheap, inferior treatments that come with significan­t risks.

“It’s not uncommon to see high-powered lasers and medical treatments being done in the mall or in hair salons,” she says.

“These are medical devices and they’re intended to be done under medical supervisio­n. Laser burns are becoming more common because it’s being done in facilities and by people that aren’t well-trained in this area.”

 ?? FOTOLIA ?? Thanks to recent advances, laser treatment is leaving the realm of medically corrective procedures to be seen as part of a skin maintenanc­e regimen.
Pre- and post-treatment procedures are reducing the downtime required after a visit to the laser clinic.
FOTOLIA Thanks to recent advances, laser treatment is leaving the realm of medically corrective procedures to be seen as part of a skin maintenanc­e regimen. Pre- and post-treatment procedures are reducing the downtime required after a visit to the laser clinic.

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