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Light Based Therapy in Aesthetic Medicine

Laser and Other Energy-based Therapies

These therapies are based on technologies using diverse sources of energy to revive the skin, to improve texture and complexion, providing a smoother and younger appearance, and to eliminate unwanted imperfections. Pulse light based systems and laser, radiofrequency and plasma devices are all examples of these technologies.

Conditions that can be treated include:

  • Static wrinkles
    These wrinkles are visible at all times and do not change in appearance with facial movements.
  • Pigmentation
    Freckles, sun spots, melasma, birthmarks or other darkened patches of skin result mainly from sun exposure.
  • Unwanted body and facial hair.
  • Unwanted tattoos of various colours (now treatable with the latest nano-second Q-switched lasers).
  • Scars
    As the result of acne or injury to the skin, scars may be rolling (a wavy appearance to the skin), pitted, discolored or have raised borders.
  • Vascular conditions
    Blood vessels visible on the surface of the skin, vascular lesions that appear as tiny blood filled blisters or even a constant flush of facial redness (telangectasias, port wine stains, rosacea, broken capillaries).
  • Loss of skin tone
    Weakening of the supportive skin structure (collagen and elastin fibers) that results in a loss of skin firmness.

Most light based laser and intense pulsed light devices are based on the principle of selective photothermolysis, in which only a fraction of the skin surrounding the target pigment is affected, leaving other areas untouched. A more recent application of laser-based technologies is fractional resurfacing. It is a safe and effective option for resurfacing sun- and age-damaged skin that requires little or no downtime for patients.

Fractional resurfacing may be used on the face, neck, chest, arms, and hands, thus offering a much more extensive range of applications than traditional technologies. A pre-programmed laser passes through the device’s optical lenses, penetrating the skin and producing a microscopic thermal and ablative effect without destroying the surrounding tissue. The many small damaged areas start to heal as the collagen is remodeled and the skin grows firmer and its texture improves.

Fractional radiofrequency devices can also address both texture and pigmentation, but is not light based and therefore does not utilize the principle of selective photothermolysis whatsoever.

Since fractional skin resurfacing is a gradual process that affects only a preset percentage of the skin, multiple sessions are sometimes required to treat the entire affected area. Side effects are limited to moderate to intense “sunburn-type” redness for a few days, followed by exfoliation of “dead skin.” In about a week, the skin returns to normal.

A consult with a physician can determine if and when a person is a candidate for any light or energy-based treatments for any of the above-mentioned problems. Both men and women are increasingly making use of photorejuvenation for its effective results, minimally invasive nature and remarkable safety and comfort. CAAM strongly recommends a physician consultation prior to treatment in light of energy based devices, of which many are very powerful, current being unregulated in Canada.