In the world of making people more beautiful, or bringing out their best beauty, there are a lot of places that people turn. Any TSLMS member knows that consumers of cosmetic fixes want to know that they are being taken care of. Wholly and completely taken care of. This can mean giving advice outside of one’s comfort zone to clients who are following different influencers than you are. They may watch different TV, be on different social media, and read different magazines.
Many people seek to make themselves more beautiful by using creams and serums. Others move straight to procedures. Of course those procedures run the gamut too. These include everything from minimally invasive injections and fillers to exterior laser treatments to facelifts, to multiple surgeries. As a professional, whether we are dermatologists or technicians, it is our job to help our clients understand how these different treatments interact with each other and how they are distinct from each other. In order to do that, we need to understand these interactions and distinctions ourselves.
Lasers are sometimes used in cosmetic surgery, but not always. And many laser treatments are not considered cosmetic surgery. In order to understand the nuances it is important to first understand what cosmetic surgery is and is not.
According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS), cosmetic surgery is distinct from plastic surgery in that:
Cosmetic surgery is a unique discipline of medicine focused on enhancing appearance through surgical and medical techniques. Cosmetic surgery can be performed on all areas of the head, neck and body. Because treated areas function properly but lack aesthetic appeal, cosmetic surgery is elective.
Plastic surgery is defined as a surgical specialty dedicated to reconstruction of facial and body defects due to birth disorders, trauma, burns, and disease. Plastic surgery is intended to correct dysfunctional areas of the body and is reconstructive in nature.
Some of the more popular cosmetic enhancements include facelifts (rhytidectomy), mini facelifts, other work to the face, such as rhinoplasty. Also on the list are breast augmentation, breast reduction, tummy tucks, and buttock enhancement. Breast augmentation and buttock enhancement typically involve implants, but there are more and more people going through surgeries that involve fat transfer. TSLMS has pieces written on a number of these procedures that you can read on our Blog to learn more.
The Use of Lasers In Cosmetic Procedures
Lasers are extremely versatile. They can be used in place of a scalpel in surgery and they can be directed at a problem area with heat, light and energy to make a change. The technology is changing fast and there are new applications for lasers being patented and FDA approved all the time. As this news happens, we bring it to you.
There are some certainties and standouts, though, that are predictable about lasers and these include some of the most common cosmetic applications. As noted in a 2019 piece by VeryWell Health these include:
- Fine Lines and Wrinkles: For treating lines and wrinkles, a combination of skin resurfacing and skin-tightening procedures can be used or both can be accomplished with a more aggressive ablative laser, such as CO2 (carbon dioxide) laser or Erbium YAG. photofacials (see other light-based cosmetic applications below).
- Skin Tightening: Most cosmetic laser procedures provide at least some level of superficial tightening because they produce a controlled injury of the skin, which encourages increased collagen production. For more significant tightening results, however, CO2 lasers are the laser of choice.
- Pigmented Lesions: The most commonly used lasers for the treatment of pigmented lesions, such as sun spots, age spots, melasma and other forms of hyperpigmentation are the pulsed dye, Nd:YAG, and fractional (Fraxel) lasers.
- Precancerous Lesions: Almost all surgeons agree that cancerous lesions should be removed via scalpel (with a knife during surgery) to ensure clear borders and complete removal. In addition to making sure a skin cancer has “clear margins,” this assures that there is a sample for a pathologist to look at to determine exactly what the lesion was. By removing precancerous growths, such as actinic keratoses, before they have a chance to become malignant (squamous cell skin cancers), though, lasers are now routinely being used as a preventative measure. Ablative lasers, such as CO2 and erbium:YAG, are generally chosen to remove these lesions.
- Vascular Lesions: Vascular lesions include broken blood vessels on the face, unsightly spider veins on the legs, spider nevi, hemangiomas, and certain birthmarks, such as port wine stains. For these types of skin irregularities, IPL is a common choice, as it is minimally invasive. Also popular for treating these lesions are the pulsed dye, Nd:YAG and diode lasers.
- Tattoos: The CO2 laser and Nd:YAG remain popular for tattoo removal, although some success can also be had with the use of IPL.
- Hair Removal: The success and safety of laser hair removal is highly dependent on the pigment present in both the skin and the hair of the patient being treated. For darker-skinned patients, the Nd:YAG and diode lasers are often the lasers of choice, and for lighter-skinned patients, IPL has proved effective.
- Acne and Acne Scars: For deeper acne scars, the CO2 laser remains the gold standard, although more recent developments such as the erbium:YAG, fractional laser and certain nonablative lasers have shown considerable success with superficial acne scarring.
Creams and Serums
There are people who rely on beauty products to maintain a youthful, healthy looking face. Typically they are using creams and/or serums. We published a piece on this last year. In it we detail out the ingredients that are used in many of the best of these and how they work to help the skin. Even if your client does have work done, we remind everyone that it is important to have a good daily skincare routine that includes keeping the skin moisturized.
Afterall, while these products are never going to be as good as the procedures we offer, the good ones definitely contribute to what we are trying to accomplish.