Like other technologies, laser treatments have also changed a lot. Gone are the times of time-consuming, painful (and not to mention expensive!) sittings for laser therapies for skin and hair. The new-age lasers are way more effective, offer a lot more solutions and hardly have any downtime. And it's not just scarring or hair removal that they're capable of... the new-age lasers sort out issues like wrinkling, scarring and even pigmentation to give that celebrity-like flawless complexion!
Before that, a quick crash course!
How does laser technology work?
Simply speaking, lasers generate a single wavelength of light which is absorbed only by a single pigment. And these wavelengths are targeted depending on the issue. Like some would specifically target acne scars, others would focus on melanin, which is the pigment which gives the skin and hair colour. These can erase marks and also get rid of hair. Other than that, some lasers can be absorbed by water, which lightly wounds the skin, leading to the generation of new collagen, which is what gives the skin its elasticity.
Are there different kinds of lasers?
Yes, depending upon the function and usage. These differ by the wavelengths of the light they generate. But the two major ones to know are Ablative and Non-ablative lasers.
Ablative lasers - This works by delivering an intense wavelength of light to the skin, this means that the outer layers of aged or sun-damaged skin are removed. The laser then goes on to stimulate the underlying skin, which boosts collagen formation. This one takes longer to heal.
Non-ablative lasers - These do not target the outer layer of the skin. They target the deeper tissue, so the skin on top isn't hurt or raw. This takes much lesser time to heal as compared to ablative lasers.
Do laser treatments hurt?
Some do, but a lot of them don't, especially since lasers have come a long way in terms of the technology being used. Some of the laser treatments which hurt are done after administering local anaesthesia.
How long does it take to heal after a procedure?
Depends on the procedure you get done and the severity of your problem. It could be anything between a few minutes to a few days. Nowadays, some of the procedures are so quick that you can fit it in between your office lunch break! While you would obviously need some downtime for major procedures, here are some simple, minimally invasive ones for common skin and hair issues which are quick and painless, but deliver amazing results!
Problem: Scarring, Pigmentation and Freckles
Solution: Q-Switch This one offers non-ablative skin resurfacing. It works well on issues like scarring, pigmentation, freckles as well as age spots. In this procedure, the laser emits a wavelength of high intensity in quick, short pulses which is focused on the skin issue. This leads to heat being generated at that very point and the diseased cells being destroyed. It can also be used to fight wrinkles. Duration: About 5 sessions spread over 3 months. Recovery time: Since it is non-ablative, the downtime is hardly anything. There might be some amount of redness right after the procedure. Precautions: Proper sun protection should be used for especially after the procedure and the skin should not be scrubbed harshly for a few days. Cost: Rs 7,000 onwards (per session)
Requirement: Making good skin perfect-looking
Solution: Fraxel Fractional Laser with Erbium Glass This one can give you skin that only perhaps photoshop can! This one works well to dramatically improve the texture of the skin and works on those barely-there scars, wrinkles and dark spots. This particular laser works by penetrating the skin and creating small microthermal zones, which then leads to the old damaged skin getting pushed out and being replaced by new skin by promoting collagen production. Duration: Once every 4-8 weeks Recovery Time: Just a few hours! Cost: Rs 10,000 onwards (per session)
Problem: Ageing skin
Solution: AFFIRM laser technology This one is a breakthrough technology for ageing problems as it can tighten the skin and lift it to an extent. It also works on blemishes, enlarged pores, pigmentation and stretch marks as it uses 2 lasers of different wavelengths to boost collagen production. It works really well to give rejuvenated and re-textured skin. Duration: 4-6 sessions, once every 2-3 weeks Recovery Time: Barring a little redness right after the procedure which subsides quickly, nothing else. Cost: Rs 10,000 onwards (per session)
Problem: Unwanted Body hair (face, arms, legs, back, chest, bikini area)
Solution: Alma Soprano ICE Hair removal lasers that use newer technology are way quicker, pain comparatively lesser, require fewer sessions and don't use the messy gel that most of the older generation lasers required. Another issue was that the older generation lasers were not so effective in dealing with light and fine hair (like that on the upper lip). Soprano ICE is a diode laser, which gently targets and heats the skin to a temperature which effectively damages the hair follicle and prevents re-growth without damaging the skin around. Duration: At least 5-7 sessions spread over a couple of months (varies with type of hair and growth) Recovery Time: Nothing barring initial redness Cost: Rs 1200 onwards (per session) *price mentioned for upper lip treatment