An intense pulsed light (IPL) laser allows doctors to deliver a wide range of wavelengths of light to reduce redness, remove discolorations and hide broken capillaries. Treatment requires a topical anesthesia for pain, but you’ll still feel it to a small degree. Several treatments are needed to correct some problems. Lasers (there are various kinds) can address the above mentioned problems and more, such as age spots, weathered skin, fine wrinkles and spider veins. Spider veins, caused by an underlying vascular issue, may return or require additional treatments. Fractional lasers don’t remove whole layers of skin, but create small holes that allow rapid healing, stimulation of new growth cells, and fewer risks. Fractional lasers come by many brand names, such as Fraxel and Pixel. Non-carbon dioxide fractional lasers such as Erbium tend to be gentler and offer quicker healing. CO2 lasers work deeper, in essence by doing more “damage” to the skin to promote growth of collagen and elastin fibers, which gives skin its elastic quality. The deeper CO2 lasers can give better results but at the cost of slightly higher risks.
Cosmetic surgeon Asher Carey of Dover is participating in trials of a laser called Fractora, which uses radio frequency to address several skin issues at one time. Facial plastic surgeon Paul Sabini of Newark is watching Ulthera, an ultrasound machine that promises to rejuvenate the support system of the skin to reduce sagging. The instrument promises faster results with safe technology. “Early data is promising,” he says, but he’d like to see longer-term results before he adopts the product. Says Dr. Abdollah Malek, “It’s not the laser in the hand, but the hand on the laser.”
Risks Pigmentation changes, infection. Bad technique can cause burning.
Recovery With easy IPL treatments, there is minimal downtime. Some redness and swelling fade in a day or two for most treatments. More aggressive lasers or many CO2 laser treatments may result in a week of downtime.
Cost For IPL, $250 to $300 per session for the face. For most lasers, usually less than $1,000 for total face treatment. For CO2 lasers, $600 to $1,200 per treatment.