The Do’s and Don’ts of Skin Rejuvenation and Why Choose Cynosure’s PicoSure Laser
Are any of you curious about trying skin rejuvenation? This article has been a long one in the making due to the length of time it takes to experience optimal results with this technology. Now that a couple of months have passed since my first skin rejuvenation session at Richmond Skin & Laser with Cynosure’s PicoSure Laser I’m very excited to share more about the process. I’m also going to cover the often overlooked safety aspects. The aim is to equip you all with the knowledge to choose the safest and most effective technology to date. This blog will be a great starting point for any of you interested in trying this therapy out.
I also want to briefly mention that this experience has opened my eyes to a whole new level of incompetence out there. Case in point is the very negligent and irresponsible clinic I used to frequent. I trusted them as they are a successful multi-clinic organisation, however unfortunately the clinicians were lax when it came to safety and aftercare instructions. When rules are followed, laser treatments are very safe and highly effective. However negligent behavior can place you at unnecessary risk of developing skin cancers, extreme breakouts, skin discoloration or scarring (yikes!). All I want is for my readers to be safe and never to be put in risky situations like I was.
What to expect from a skin rejuvenation session with the PicoSure Laser?
This amazing light based therapy can help with a myriad of common skin complaints. Many of which I have! Yay! Think pigmentation, uneven skin tone, acne, wrinkles, enlarged pores, scars and fine lines. Honestly, I can’t think of any adult, regardless of age, that doesn’t suffer from at least one of these problems. After all, we all want to look our best no matter whether we’re 25 or 50. The fantastic thing is that the PicoSure Laser can help nearly anyone achieve their #skingoals! Another cool advantage that had me geeking out is that the PicoSure Laser can improve collagen and elastin production for up to 6 months post treatment. This means that your skin will bounce back quickly from breakouts or trauma. That’s pretty neat right? Oh and not to mention the effects this has at plumping the skin and smoothing out fine lines!
What's the before care like?
Before going into your skin rejuvenation session it’s quite important to familiarize yourself with dos and don’ts. There are many things you need to avoid before the session i.e. no recent sun exposure, no fake tan and no taking vitamin A supplements or blood thinners. It’s best to be aware of these things so that you avoid being turned away and wasting the greater part of your day. A good clinic will generally inform you about these contraindications before you book, however some aren’t as organized. For me, I was lucky, as I already knew quite a bit about this from having previous laser treatments.
What were my personal goals for my PicoSure Laser treatment?
Personally, I had quite a few goals going into this treatment. One, I wanted to address the post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation on my face caused by acne. Secondly I wanted to fade some facial pigmentation, in particular a small birthmark on the lateral side of my left eye. I’ve never liked it and I’ve always wanted to do something about it.
Was the treatment painful? Did I have any side effects?
The treatment itself was over pretty quickly! And there was minimal discomfort. My face felt kind of hot during the session and I could feel the laser beams scattering across my skin. It’s a bit of a weird sensation to describe honestly. It’s as if someone was lightly flicking an elastic band on my face in several places at once. In terms of symptoms, I’m pleased to note that I didn’t experience any adverse effects. Even though I was treated very close to my eye area (which can cause extreme redness and swelling for some people), I did not suffer any effects. My skin is kind of amazing that way. I’m red for like two minutes after my laser treatments and then I look completely normal. The only negative thing I can report are some breakouts after my treatment. Apparently this is completely normal though and is a sign that the PicoSure Laser has effectively helped your skin to clean some of the gunk out.
Have you noticed any changes with your skin?
My results have been pretty amazing! For one, the treatments cleared up all the post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation on my face. The only downside is that I’ve had a few breakouts since my last session so unfortunately my skin isn’t 100% clear. Given the collagen boost though, I have noticed that when I do have a breakout it does heal very quickly. Yay! Another unexpected benefit is that the dark circles under my eyes have greatly improved. A major cause of my dark circles is the fact that my skin tone is pale and I have prominent vascularization under my eyes. Karen from Richmond Skin & Laser was telling me that it has a lot to do with my part Scottish background. Thank-you Granddad. Another improvement Karen noticed in my skin was the reduction of fine lines, black heads and my pore size. For me, I don’t pick up those tiny things as my acne breakouts make me shy away from scrutinizing my skin too closely in the mirror haha! As for my birthmark, it has faded a little but unfortunately can still be seen. I think I will continue to spot treat the area and fade it some more with additional sessions.
My major Safety Tips
Moles cannot be treated by the Picosure Laser
Make sure your clinician checks extensively for moles on the skin area to be treated. A good clinician (like Karen from Richmond Skin & Laser) will gently check over every inch of skin to mark any raised areas that should not be treated over. It’s very scary to think that another clinic I was regularly going to for laser hair removal did not do this!
The Treatment area must be clean
This is so important! You skin should be completely clean before it is treated with a laser. Residual make-up on the skin for example could cause the treatment to be less effective, lead to superficial burns or even cause massive breakouts. If your clinician doesn’t clean your face, they aren’t doing it right.
You must wear eye protection at all times, however it must be suited to the type of laser being used. Different laser models operate at slightly different frequencies. So eyewear must protect against the exact wavelength emitted by the laser. While this area of safety is more important for your therapist, you and anyone else in the room should wear appropriate eyewear too. Why risk retina damage and permanent vision loss? Personally I err on the side of caution and don’t even look at the laser during my treatments. Another concern is bringing young children into the treatment room. Get someone to babysit if possible. If not, keep them out of the room and let a member of staff keep an eye on them. Most kids can’t be trusted at the best of times. I can definitely imagine a bored two year old pulling off their protective goggles. Not only that, the clinic’s goggles may be too oversized to stay on a child's head securely.
Wear sunscreen religiously post treatment
For post-care you MUST wear sun cream on any sun-exposed areas that have been treated by laser. No exception. After a laser session your skin is much more sensitive to photodamage (i.e. damage from the sun). Exposure can result in burning, premature skin aging, temporary or permanent discoloration and increased skin cancer risk. Plus you want to protect the treated area to maintain the amazing effects. After all this is an expensive procedure. Karen the owner from Richmond Skin & Laser recommends using a sun cream that is SPF 50+, which is sensible advice. That’s why I love her so much and will keep coming back to her clinic. She’s such a knowledgeable and safe clinician and she’s my inspiration for writing this safety guide.
At the moment the broad spectrum sun cream I’m using is SPF 40 by MooGoo (click here). To be honest, it’s winter here and the difference between SPF 40 and 50 is less than 1%. SPF 40 blocks 97.5% of the sun’s rays, while SPF 50 blocks 98%. I would rather this minuscule trade off than to compromise my health and put something toxic on my skin. It’s ironic that a lot of sun creams that are meant to protect us can be bad for our health in other ways. Think nasty hormone-disrupting effects among other things (read more here if interested).
Toxic fumes aka “laser plumes”
This is most relevant to laser hair removal but I thought I’d add it in anyway. Inhaling that nasty burning smell (aka “laser plumes”) can increase the risk of cancer and respiratory irritation. Basically laser plumes are the vapors, smoke and small particles of debris produced during a laser treatment (read more here). In a nutshell it's a cocktail of several hundreds of chemicals including known and suspected carcinogens, environmental toxins and contaminants such as viable bacteria and viruses. Eeeek! That’s something you definitely want to avoid! My best tips to avoid this are to make sure that the treatment room is well ventilated. Also request to wear a surgical mask at all times during your laser session to avoid inhaling toxic laser plumes.
Other safety notes
There is a long list of contraindications to determine who should or shouldn’t undergo skin rejuvenation with Cynosure’s Picosure Laser. This is usually covered extensively in the paperwork you go through on your first session. Such examples include recent sun exposure or use of fake tanning products. I won’t go into this in detail as most clinics screen people pretty well for these things. Otherwise they would have a clear lawsuit on their hands! The other points seemed more important for me to discuss as they were neglected by the previous clinic I visited.