Not all lasers are created equal.
Over the years I have learned a lot about lasers used in the cosmetic business. Here are some of the pearls I have learned since buying my first laser in 2006.
1. Not all lasers are created equal.
This means that just because a place owns a laser, it does not mean that you will get the same results from the procedure. Each laser has different capabilities. Some are more powerful than others. It’s like buying a car, a Mercedes doesn’t have the same specs as a Ford or GM.
2. The person operating the laser needs to be well trained.
Lasers are powerful machines and in the wrong hands can harm you. Unwanted side effects like burns, scars and eye damage can occur. Ineffective treatments can cost a lot of money and be a big disappointment.
3. Certain skin types need specialized treatment.
Dark pigmented skin may require testing prior to being treated. Brown skin can burn easier if not properly assessed. Again, a well trained operator is essential to prevent this from happening.
4. Different lasers are needed to accomplish different treatments.
In order to remove hair, remove pigmentation or remove tattoos one must have the appropriate laser to do the treatment effectively. In order to remove a tattoo a ‘Q switch’ laser is required. While to remove pigmentation an ‘Intense pulsed light (IPL) type’ machines is used.
5. Lasers need regular maintenance and service.
If lasers are not kept in good working order they can lose their power and effectiveness. Like any kind of technology things wear out and need repair or replacing.
6. All lasers hurt the same.
While a lot of laser treatments can be uncomfortable, not all feel the same. Some lasers have a built in cooling mechanism to help prevent damage to the skin. Other times anaesthetic needs to be applied before the treatment. For example, tattoo removal is best done when the skin is “frozen” with local anaesthetic. Only a licensed medical doctor can inject this type of anaesthetic.
If a treatment hurts too much, chances are you can’t sit through it to be effective and you won’t return to finish the job.
7. The number of treatments needed depends on the quality of the machine.
This point brings us full circle to point number one, that not all lasers are created equal. There are many types of lasers on the market. It is difficult to know what is fact or fiction. Laser companies can promote their laser on the internet and they can sound marvellous.
When considering laser treatments get a recommendation from a friend, go to someone you trust and do your homework before signing up.
-Marianna Switchuk, MD