How times have changed. Today, those early products on the market are long gone, replaced by a broad range of sophisticated, highly targeted lasers designed to treat everything from stretch marks through to acne.
There are lasers to suit your skin type and hair colour, and varying strengths depending on the severity of the issue at hand. And thankfully, there are more knowledgeable practitioners out there now than ever before – in the wrong hands, lasers can cause adverse reactions and even further skin damage, so it’s worth taking your time to seek out a reputable clinic with relevant expertise.
Overseen by the right professional, however, laser treatments are some of the most effective, potent options out there – often with immediate results. Be sure to follow through with maintenance appointments if recommended, to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
Lasers for hair removal“Laser hair removal is arguably the best way to remove unwanted hair,” says Charley Lavender, Senior Therapist at the Meyer Clinic in Chichester. “It’s quick, clean and effective, and means the end of painful waxing or the hassle of shaving.”
The process works using a diode laser beam which penetrates your skin in the targeted area, to reach the pigmented hair follicle. The laser beam then heats the life cell of the unwanted hairs, to disrupt, thin and weaken it.
It works in a similar way to IPL [intense pulsed light technology], but, says EV Expert and Medical Director at Vie Aesthetics Dr Ioannis Liakas, “the difference is that lasers are considered safer due to their precision, whereas IPL devices create multiple wavelengths that can then affect other components in the skin.”
As hair grows in cycles, you’ll need around 6-12 treatments as you won't be able to impact all of the hair cells at the same time, and some will not be at the optimal growth phase. Some lasers, such as the Diolaze laser at Vie Aesthetics, include a powerful cooling tip system to make procedures as comfortable as possible.
The treatment can be carried out on areas including the bikini area, legs, underarms, back, chest, chin, sideburns and stomach. A patch test before treatment is essential to ensure that the machine settings are programmed correctly to your skin tone.
Names to look out for: Diolaze, Soprano Ice.
Lasers for scars, birthmarks & stretch marksLaser treatments are one of the most effective ways of fading marks and scars – particularly ones that are set deeper in the skin, such as those left from acne.
Using a fractional CO2 [Carbon Dioxide] laser delivers great results, but you should be aware that for five days afterwards the skin is likely to be red, scaly and slightly inflamed.
Other lasers, such as the PicoWay Resolve require far less downtime, but you’ll need more sessions to get the same effect. A full course of sessions can then be followed with a maintenance treatment at home, with some clinics suggesting bespoke skincare regimens for clients to maximise results.
Names to look out for: Fraxel 1550, PicoWay Resolve.
Lasers for wrinklesIt’s not just botulinum toxin and filler that can be used to target deep-set wrinkles – lasers can significantly improve ageing or sun damaged skin.
Ablative lasers can be used for fine and moderate wrinkles; these work by delivering an intense wavelength of light deep into the skin, which stimulates collagen production. The result is fresher, plumper and more youthful skin, with a smoother appearance and a discernible glow.
It takes around 2-4 weeks for the skin to heal following the treatment, and you’ll need to be absolutely rigorous with SPF and limiting sun exposure during this time.
Non-ablative lasers, sometimes referred to as 'non-wounding' lasers, go significantly less deep into the skin and require a longer course of treatments for the same result. But the big plus is that they come with a lower risk of hyperpigmentation, making them a better choice for darker complexions.
Names to look out for: Clear and Brilliant, Fraxel Restore, Fraxel Repair.
Lasers for acne and rosaceaYou might think that lasers can only be used on acne scarring, but in fact, they can be an effective treatment for those suffering with active acne.
The virtually painless Isolaz treatment can help target acne, as well as blotchy and uneven skin pigmentation, and most people notice a visible difference within 24-48 hours. Employing a two-pronged approach, it works by clearing pores and then killing bacteria deep in the skin, to limit further outbreaks.
Alternatively, the Nd:YAG laser can be used to reduce inflammation and lower sebum production, and you’d usually undergo several sessions at two-week intervals.
For rosacea and port wine stains, the V Beam Pulsed Dye laser system is a non-ablative laser that works by seeking out and targeting oxyhaemoglobin (found within the red blood cells in vessels of the skin), as well as melanin (a skin pigment), effectively meaning it only targets the area of discolouration that you’re trying to treat.
Names to look out for: V Beam, ExcelV+, Isolaz.
Lasers for facial thread veins Thread veins (normal blood veins that have become enlarged and therefore more visible), can be treated particularly effectively by laser, and results can be visible from the first treatment.
The light pulse is absorbed by the dark-red, oxygen-rich blood of the problem vessel and converted into heat, which then causes the blood to clot and the vessel to weld shut. Your body’s lymphatic system then breaks down the coagulated blood and transports it away naturally.
It’s common to feel a warm or tingling sensation, or a fleeting 'hot pinch' during the treatment, but otherwise the process is brief and painless. There’s no downtime following the procedure, and repeat sessions are usually required.
Names to look out for: Xlase Plus, Cynergy, ExcelV+.
Ioannis Liakas, Medical Director
Dr Ioannis Liakas is a shining gem in the aesthetics world. Prior to becoming an industry leading practitioner, he worked...Book with Ioannis Liakas