Laser Facials - The Future Of Skincare

Jennifer Aniston keeps her skin youthful
 with laser facial treatments
Laser facials have been getting a lot of attention in the press of late, after Jennifer Aniston publicly announced that they are the reason she looks closer to 25 than her real age of 43. Other celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Courteney Cox have also been quoted in the media talking about procedures such as Fraxel as part of their beauty maintenance regimes.  

Much as the regular visit to beauty salons for a facial rejuvenating mask and steam session was the norm in previous years, the trend today is for doctors to offer lower-powered, no-downtime laser sessions that can deliver on all of those spa treatments' promises of anti-aging, skin beautifying and rejuvenation. These laser facials are designed to fill the gap in your skincare regime, when you don't necessarily need or want a full laser resurfacing, but would like improvement on the limited results you get from skincare, spa and salon treatments.

Laser facials - the medical answer to spa treatments

A laser facial is any treatment involvng a laser machine that is designed to rejuvenate the facial area; each session is designed to reduce pigmentation, fine wrinkles and dull, rough skin, as well as improve skin elasticity and tone. Most of these treatments are designed as lunchtime sessions, so patients can leave the clinic and resume their normal activities immediately.

The basic principle of any laser treatment is controlled wounding to stimulate healing and cell renewal. Many such techniques were developed to address the problems of acne scarring, pigmentation and rough skin, which required deeper laser penetration for effectiveness. Gentler laser treatments were developed from these techniques, and are much safer, less painful, and employ the power of laser stimulation to prevent and reverse the effects of aging.
One such treatment is Clear+Brilliant, by Solta Medical, the same company who offer the well-known Thermage and Fraxel brands. It's aimed at the 25 to 45 year old patient group who want smoother, clearer skin but don't yet have the need for a more intensive laser treatment. It is often described as a 'thorough exfoliating session' to restore the 'glow' of healthy skin. Clear+Brilliant is well tolerated and well received by many patients as a way to boost their looks and improve the vitality of their complexions. Try four treatments spaced at four weeks apart to restore vibrancy to skin dulled by excessive sun exposure, improper skin care or poor lifestyle habits.

Q-Switch ND:YAG Laser Toning is another non-ablative laser treatment that selectively targets facial imperfections such as pigmentation, scarring, rough textures and enlarged pores. This treatment is very comfortable with just an aplication of local anesthetic cream. Just a quick 10 minute procedure can improve the skin tone, luminosity and polish of your skin, and leaves skin only mildly red for the first half an hour. Aftercare requires nothing more than a proper sunblock routine.

A variation of this treatment uses a topical carbon lotion to intensify and evenly distribute the energy of the laser beam for greater results. A short course of 4 - 6 fortnightly sessions can give noticeable brightening of overall complexion, and some patients opt to continue with regular sessions to maintain the skin's clarity.

 Broad Band Light or BBL, which treats a wide range of problems such as melasma, freckles, enlarged pores, fine lines, acne, pigmented scars, broken capillaries, birthmarks and unwanted hair, is a scientifically proven treatment that can arrest and reverse cell aging. Each session of BBL involves the use of a cooling wand, through which a filtered light is 'pulsed' to stimulate specific skin responses. Clinical researchers found that BBL light treatments were able to actually activate skin cells that affect collagen production and immune response, helping skin to appear visibly younger by an average of 2 years per session. Long term studies have shown patients who underwent the treatment just once every 6 to 12 months looked years younger, even after many years since their initial treatment. Read this previous post to find out more.

 Why you should consider laser facials

Let's face it - laser treatments are not cheap. Neither are they to be taken lightly - there are always risks and drawbacks to any kind of treatment. A laser treatment, whose modality of action is to cause controlled damage of the skin for the purposes of encouraging healing, is especially scary, because you have so many factors to consider; the reliability of the machine being used, the expertise of the operator, the condition of your own skin and whether the settings on the machine correspond to your needs, for example, are vital to ensure that the treatment is not only safe, but effective. 

Many people find that the costs of laser treatments can be very high, so only patronize beauty salons where the treatments are more financially accessible. Is it cost effective, however, if instead of two to three laser facials, you have to go to the beautician six to eight times for any improvement? Often the beautician will also insist you add additional treatments or products to 'boost' the effectiveness of the treatment. Safety is also not guaranteed, as the spa and salon market is highly competitive, and there is always a push for different, radical treatments that may or may not be clinically tested for efficacy and safety. 

A more conservative group may rely on beauty counter lotions and potions, but this route, not even necessarily cheaper, offers very limited improvements that may only be noticeable after an extended period of use. 

As consumers become more sophisticated, so too does the market develop to address their needs. I believe the growing popularity of laser facial treatments is an answer to the need for truly eficacious treatments that lead the way into the future of skin care as we know it.

-- Cosmetic Medicine, MD

Dr. Liow Tiong Sin is an aesthetic practitioner who practices in Kuala Lumpur and Melaka, Malaysia. He has more than 12 years of expertise with non-surgical cosmetic treatments, and  conducts training courses for other doctors from all around Asia. To connect with Dr. Liow, Like Cosmedmd's Facebook page. or email
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