...about laser treatments in summer
Dr. Gregory LaTrenta answers questions frequently asked about laser treatments.
Is there a type of laser treatment I shouldn’t use during the summer?
In general, laser treatments should not be done on tanned skin, but the only type I strongly advise against in summer are short wave length lasers, or “IPL”. These lasers primarily address color issues like pigmentation, rosacea and vascular lesions. If you are the type of person who spends a great deal of time outdoors, it is best to reserve your IPL laser treatments for the months when the sun is not so intense.
Which laser treatments can be used during the summer?
Fractional long wave length lasers, fractionated lasers, or “Fraxel”, can be used during the summer. These lasers primarily address photo aging like wrinkles and loss of dermis. However, you must always apply and reapply sunscreen before and after the treatment.
Although I don’t recommend other IPL treatments in summer, IPL hair removal can be done on parts of your body that aren’t tanned, such as the groin, axillary region or areola.
What is a “long wave” VS a “short wave” laser?
Technically speaking, IPL lasers are visible light lasers (400-700 nm), i.e. short wave lengths. Clear+Brilliant and Fraxel are above the visible light spectrum ( 1400-1900 nm), and are long wave lasers .
What is a pigment laser and why shouldn’t it be used in the summer?
A “pigment” laser uses a laser wavelength which specifically forces the quick lifting of excess pigmentation. The specific wavelength targets melanin, which is the pigment that causes brown spots on skin known as hyperpigmentation.
These lasers are within the visible light spectrum of 400-540 nm. Its best not to do it in the summer because UV rays from sun exposure (280- 400 nm), even exposure inside from being near windows or in a car, can reignite melanin production.
Can I do tightening laser treatments in the summer?
Yes, it uses a different technology than the pigment laser. I use both the Clear+Brilliant (1440) and Fraxel (1540) systems. These work by safely heating the deep layers of the skin and stimulating regrowth (collagenesis) and promoting collagen thickening and swelling for younger looking skin. After the procedure, you should apply sunscreen.
Will sunblock protect me after a laser treatment?
Yes, but intense UV radiation (UV10) may more easily burn your skin after treatment so you must be diligent in using your sun protection.
Be sure to use a broad spectrum of at least SPF 30. I recommend an SPF of 50 – 100 for your face.
Try to find one that has particulate active ingredients like zinc and titanium dioxide.
Adhering to a daily program of sunscreen and minimal sun exposure will also prolong the effects of any laser treatment.
Is it okay to have laser hair removal treatment done during the summer?
Yes, but I strongly advise against having laser hair removal on tanned skin. The laser works by locating and targeting the darkness of the hair follicle. So it is easier for the laser to differentiate the follicle from your skin if your skin is not tanned. In addition to being ineffective, you can get a burn and de-pigment large areas of your body if you have laser hair removal on tanned skin. I advise that you stay out of the sun for 72 hours before your treatment. This will greatly reduce the risk of burning, scarring, and seriously damaging your skin.
Dr. Gregory S. LaTrenta is a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon with offices in New York City and Darien, Connecticut. For further information about laser treatments and other procedures, please visit latrenta.com
Did you know the term "laser" is an acronym?:
light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation.
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'Ask Dr. LaTrenta' is an archive of interviews with Park Avenue Plastic Surgeon, Gregory LaTrenta. The doctor answers patients' questions about the latest cosmetic procedures and helps us separate fact from myth.