Last Updated March 2023
What are laser treatments?
Laser treatments help combat various skin conditions. Unlike IPL, lasers operate with a specific wavelength of light to target areas of concern such as redness or pigmentation. This precision only focuses its light energy on the irregular area, avoiding unnecessary exposure to the surrounding skin. As a result, it can better target the pigment or redness.
What are the benefits of laser to skin?
The benefits of laser treatments for the skin help revitalise the inner layers, prompting regenerative qualities for various skin conditions. This is achieved through a concentrated target on affected areas such as acne scarring, pigmentation, wrinkles, sun spots, and tattoos.
Prior to laser treatments, surgical or other more invasive methods were used to treat the skin, leading to prolonged recovery periods with an increased risk for the skin. However, the non-invasive techniques with new laser technologies use a specific single wavelength of light to induce changes in the desired areas. The laser technique is a versatile solution for treating many skin-related conditions, including pigmentation, tattoos, scarring, vascular conditions, skin tightening, skin texture and wrinkles.
There are many different types of lasers and the laser which is used will depend on the skin condition being treated, as well as the patient’s skin type, tone and how much downtime the patient is comfortable with..
Laser technologies classified as non-ablative can accurately and specifically target a particular problem in the skin. Allowing only the irregular area to be treated, a great method to treat sun spots and capillaries without impacting the surrounding skin.
Moreover, lasers with an ablative method are able to evaporate a layer of the skin and heat the skin up. This stimulates new collagen production and collagen reorganisation to reduce wrinkles, tighten skin, and improve skin texture.
The many benefits that come with laser treatments will vary from the skin conditions the lasers are targeting. However, in most cases it is a safe and non-invasive way to achieve results with minimal recovery periods.
Who is a suitable candidate for laser skin treatment?
Most people are suitable candidates for laser skin treatments. People who are fairly healthy and want to correct their skin concerns, may make a suitable candidate. Other suitable candidates may include people who experience:
- Shallow acne or scars
- Sun damages
- Fine wrinkles
- Early signs of sagging skin
- Blotchy or brown patches of skin
- Uneven skin tone
A consultation with a practitioner is required to confirm whether you are a suitable candidate for laser treatments.
Who is not a suitable candidate for laser skin treatment?
Laser skin treatment isn’t for everyone, and it is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Additionally, you may not be suitable for laser treatments if you experience:
- Active acne
- Excessive or late stages of sagging skin
- Deep wrinkles
- Deep scarring
- Autoimmune disease or weak immune system
- Have had radiation therapy to the face
- Fitzpatrick skin type 5 and above
You should consult a practitioner for confirmation or if you have any other concerns relating to laser skin treatments.
What skin conditions can be treated with lasers?
There are various skin issues that can be treated with laser techniques. And it is most effective in combating rosacea, sun spots, red spots, broken capillaries, pigmentation and wrinkles. We have broken down the most common skin conditions that laser methods are used to treat, as it is essential to first identify the type of skin condition prior to deciding on the appropriate laser treatments.
Pigmentation is any change in the colour of the skin due to irregular melanin production occurring in the body. This often occurs from excessive UV exposure, genetics, ageing or hormones.
Laser treatments are an effective way to combat pigmentation. Lasers are highly attracted to melanin (the pigment in the skin) and can specifically target problems of pigmentation (brown spots), including solar lentigos (sun spots), melasma, freckles, brown birthmarks, and deeper pigmentation problems.
The lasers used for pigmentation include the Ruby laser, PiQo4 laser, Fraxel laser and Gemini laser. These lasers target the pigmentation problem independently of the normal skin, as there is usually more melanin in the area to be treated than the normal skin. Hence the attraction of the laser to this problem area is greater, allowing it to target it specifically with minimal disruption to the surrounding normal skin.
Vascular conditions are common skin conditions affecting the blood vessels underneath the skin. Problems such as superficial visible broken capillaries (often associated with conditions such as rosacea), facial veins, and red-coloured birthmarks (Port Wine Stains) are examples of vascular conditions that can be treated with laser methods.
Laser treatments are a non-invasive method to treat vascular conditions. These lasers are highly attracted to oxyhaemoglobin, a constituent of blood, a property that allows the lasers to target and treat vascular conditions effectively.
The laser most commonly used in this category is the Gemini laser. Through this laser’s high attraction to oxyhaemoglobin, these lasers can specifically heat up their target, e.g. a blood vessel, and by doing so, cause them to close down.
A tattoo is a permanent mark made on your skin through ink pigments inserted via needle pricks into the skin.
The good news is that tattoos of all colours can be removed or significantly lightened with minimal disruption to the skin using the latest laser technology. Compared to all other invasive tattoo removal methods, laser techniques provide the greatest chance of returning the skin to a pre-tattooed state without scarring.
Lasers such as the Piqo4 laser and Ruby laser are great laser technologies for tattoo removal, as they are highly attracted to pigment. They both emit extremely short pulses in the order of one billionth of a second. These short pulses transmit heat energy to the skin and due to their short pulses of energy are able to shatter the tattoo pigment which then allows the body to remove the broken-down tattoo particles.
Multiple laser sessions are required in order to remove or sufficiently fade your tattoo completely. All types of tattoos can be removed with laser, including cosmetic tattooing (e.g. eyeliner, eyebrow, or lip tattooing, although we do not provide that service in our clinic), traumatic tattoos (where a foreign substance has been embedded in the skin), and amateur and professional tattoos. Of note, the Ruby laser is the best laser for removing green tattoo ink.
Wrinkles and skin texture
Wrinkles and skin textures are visible creases or ridges in the skin as the elastin and collagen production levels are reduced. They typically form due to age, excessive sun damage, hormones, and a decrease in the production of natural oils.
Laser skin resurfacing is used for treating wrinkles and skin texture, often requiring ablative lasers such as the carbon dioxide laser or the erbium laser. These machines improve the appearance of wrinkles by ‘resurfacing’ the skin. The process involves vaporising a layer from the skin surface, and heat energy is induced into the skin.
The method causes the reorganisation and regeneration of collagen fibres, leading to the growth of new skin that has fewer wrinkles, improved texture and tightness. As the most effective treatments involve ablative lasers, the recovery times for these treatments are usually 1 to 2 weeks at minimum.
Although there are a number of ‘no downtime’ laser treatments that purport to improve wrinkles and skin texture, the results are usually less significant than those achieved from the aforementioned ablative lasers. Multiple treatments with lasers, such as the Piqo laser, can help with skin texture and wrinkles by stimulating collagen. Still, as they are non-ablative, they cause less injury to the skin and not as much subsequent improvement.
Additional information about skin resurfacing can be found here.
Acne scars can often take many forms of appearance, from flat, sunken, and coloured to lumpy patches. Acne scarring usually happens during an acne breakout, whereby inflammation occurs under the skin, causing trauma to skin tissues, which leads to scarring.
The good news is that acne scars can be improved with lasers. The most effective laser methods are ablative lasers such as carbon dioxide and erbium lasers. These laser help stimulate new collagen production in the indented scars to help smooth the surface of the skin. The use of ablative lasers usually requires 1 to 2 weeks of recovery period after treatment.
Additionally, fraxel laser treatments are also an option for acne scarring. The downtime from this treatment is less than the carbon dioxide laser/erbium laser. However, multiple sessions are usually required for the best results.
For more information on treating keloid or hypertrophic scarring, click here.
Lumps and bumps
Lumps and bumps can be on or underneath the skin. It can also include seborrhoeic keratosis, skin tags, and sebaceous hyperplasia. These can occur as a result of inflammatory skin, cysts, warts, fatty deposits under the skin, lymphoma or skin cancer.
The most effective lasers for treating these skin lesions are the erbium laser and the carbon dioxide laser. The technique here allows the lasers to slice fine layers of the lesions until they reach the level of the surrounding normal skin.
Additionally, the Gemini laser can also be used to heat and ablate tissue when its 532nm wavelength is used. Its main target is the melanin in the skin, so it is helpful for targeting darker skin lesions like seborrhoeic keratosis (which look like they are stuck on sultanas).
Although lasers can be used for lumps and bumps, we most commonly shave back lumps and bumps using a radio wave device.
Acne occurs when your hair follicles are blocked with oily or dead skin cells, creating the perfect environment for whiteheads, blackheads or pimples to grow. More severe cases can occur when bacteria trigger inflammation and infection. Moreover, the most common causes for acne include fluctuating levels of hormones, genetics, medications, diet, stress and anxiety.
A non-invasive method used to treat acne is ‘light treatment’. Although they are technically not a laser treatment, LED phototherapy can help to treat active acne, especially when combined with chemical peels and appropriate acne skin care. LED light therapy also targets the bacteria that cause acne, as well as helping to reduce sebaceous activity. LED phototherapy is a no-downtime treatment, when performed on its own. Downtime may be applicable when combined with chemical peels or other acne skin treatments.
How to prepare for laser skin treatment?
To prepare for laser skin treatment, you will need to avoid the following for at least 4 weeks before treatment:
- Tanning or fake tans
- Excessive sun exposure
- Facial peels (chemical peels, dermabrasion, laser resurfacing)
- Excessive exfoliation or scrubbing
Additionally, depending on the laser treatment you are doing, you may be asked to apply topical products such as topical retinoids on your skin four weeks before the procedure.
More preparation instructions will be provided by your practitioner during your consultation.
What can I expect during laser skin treatment?
Laser treatments can be performed following application of a topical local anaesthesia, especially for lasers which ablate the skin. Depending on the skin condition being treated, you can expect each session to be 30 minutes to 2 hours long.
The common sensations felt during the laser treatment include short bursts of prickling feelings on the skin regions, a slight sunburn feel, or even pulsating warm pinpricks. It is perfectly normal and safe to feel such sensations from a laser skin treatment.
What is the difference between IPL and laser?
People often confuse IPL (Intense Pulsed Light Therapy) with laser treatments. However, they are quite different from one another. IPL is a broadband intense pulsed light source, whereas lasers use a monochromatic beam of light for maximum precision. Additionally, a practitioner will recommend either treatment based on:
- Sensitivity of your skin
- Lifestyle factors
- Medications that may interfere with treatment
- Severity of your skin condition
- Precision-focused or broad-spectrum
What other skin treatments can be used to improve skin?
Other skin treatments that can be used to improve the skin include:
- IPL skin rejuvenation
- Collagen treatments
- Chemical peels
- Micropen micro-needling
- Medical-grade skin care
IPL skin rejuvenation
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) skin rejuvenation is a non-invasive way primarily used to restore your skin and its elasticity by encouraging collagen and elastin production. This is achieved by directing the IPL light energy and heat into the skin to stimulate the skin healing process. In addition, IPL treatments can improve the skin by reducing visible skin imperfections to restore the skin to its healthy complexion. IPL skin rejuvenation can also address some forms of pigmentation and generalised redness.
Collagen stimulating treatments
Collagen stimulating treatments can help prompt new elastin and collagen growth that can help restore skin elasticity and prevent skin from excessive sagging. Collagen stimulation can be performed using various methods including bio-remodelling, bio-stimulators, IPL skin rejuvenation, Infini RF needling and topical retinoids.
Chemical peels involve intentionally damaging the skin’s surface to stimulate regeneration and renewal. By removing the outer layer of skin, they encourage collagen production which may enhance the appearance of sun-damaged skin, wrinkles, pigmentation issues, and overall skin texture. The intensity of the peel determines its depth, with deeper peels resulting in more significant improvements but also carrying a greater risk of complications and requiring longer recovery time.
Micropen micro-needling is particularly useful in treating acne scars and sun damage. This method uses multiple needles up and down and gently induces micro-injuries to the skin, which triggers a healing process that prompts elastic and collagen production. Micro-needling is another non-invasive technique to induce regenerative qualities and rejuvenate the skin to reduce scar tissues and smooth over rough skin texture.
Medical-grade skin care
Medical-grade skin care products should be used in conjunction with having the above treatments. This can promote positive skin changes and prepare the skin for future laser treatments as well as helping to maintain your results. Skin care containing active ingredients and vitamins are a great addition to your skin care regime as they help to support the health of the skin. Moisturisers are also essential products to rejuvenate and protect the skin’s barrier function to maintain a healthy and smooth complexion.
Additionally, for long-term skin care and maintenance, sunscreen should be used daily for effective prevention against sun damage. Moreover, post-treatment products are vital after treatments to ensure your skin reaps the most benefits during recovery. Your practitioner will discuss the best post treatment products for you.
Why choose Victorian Cosmetic Institute as your provider of laser treatments?
Laser skin treatments can help combat skin-related concerns in non-invasive ways, and is one of the ways to help prompt new skin cells to regenerate.
At the Victorian Cosmetic Institute, we use a variety of the latest laser technologies in our Melbourne clinics, while our practitioners are highly trained in laser use and laser safety protocols.
You can get started by simply scheduling a consultation with our practitioners today by booking online or calling 1300 863 824.