For a lot of people, treating skincare concerns on the body can be a confusing, overwhelming process. Topical treatments can be an ideal temporary solution, but lotions and scrubs only go so far when treating cellulite (and of course, can’t remove hair or tattoos at all). However, surgery might be too aggressive for many. Thanks to advancements in science, there are largely non-invasive options with much less downtime: lasers.
Today’s laser modalities can accomplish some seriously impressive feats. That includes tightening skin laxity, removing redness, and even eliminating tattoos that other technology has failed to eradicate. We’ve outlined five lasers that can deliver an assortment of aesthetically pleasing results. A zap — rather than surgery or another method — can be the best way to accomplish the look, feel or effect you’re gunning for.
Read on to discover how pulses can make a positive impact. Remember, though, both cost and downtime will vary (pricing could be affected by where you live and the practitioner you visit, while everyone has a different physical reaction to treatments). Consult with your doctor before trying anything new to ensure it’s the right technology for you and your needs.
What it does: This laser is designed to help permanently reduce hair growth.
Who is a candidate: Individuals with hair ranging in color from light brown to black will respond best to this treatment.
What it costs per session: This typically costs $100 or more per session. Results can be seen in as little as two treatments, but 10 treatments may be needed for full results.
How to prep: Sun exposure is a no-no — avoid it for at least two weeks prior to your treatment. You should also skip using retinol products or antibacterial acne treatments for at least three days beforehand, and fully shave the area being treated before your visit.
What to expect during the procedure: The laser tends to feel like a rubber band snap, but most people only find it mildly uncomfortable. You might feel an increased sensation in areas where hair is more coarse and dense.
What to expect afterwards: Your hair follicles may appear swollen after treatment, presenting as small red bumps on the skin. However, this typically subsides within 30 minutes. It is most important to stay out of the sun, as the laser created a small burn underneath the skin to destroy the hair follicle — and it’s best not to add more heat (and create more irritation).
What it does: The laser tightens loose skin, including on the arms, elbows, belly and more. The technology also treats cellulite on thighs and arms.
Who is a candidate: Any adult with loose skin and/or cellulite.
What it costs per session: It costs about $500 to treat each area of the body. One treatment alone will tighten the skin 20 to 40 percent, and a treatment plan of six sessions is recommended. Visits should be scheduled four to eight months apart, but your provider will create a custom treatment plan tailored to your own needs.
How to prep: No prep is necessary — all you have to do is show up to your appointment.
What to expect during the procedure: The laser utilizes a radio wavelength of electricity. This focused beam tightens both the superficial and deep layers of the skin, as well as layers of subcutaneous fat for a firmer look.
What to expect afterwards: Patients may be mildly red and swollen for 24-48 hours. To minimize swelling, a mild over-the-counter diuretic pill or diuretic tea is encouraged.
What it does: It is used to treat a wide range of skin conditions, especially those with redness. Conditions include rosacea, port wine stains, acne scars, facial and spider veins, fresh scars, benign pigmented lesions, warts, stretch marks, and sun aging.
Who is a candidate: Anyone who is interested in correcting a skin condition — and we mean literally anyone. The Vbeam is gentle enough to use on infants and can be used up to anyone ages 90 and older.
What it costs per session: On average, treatments cost $300 to $400 each (however, price will vary depending on the area being treated, as well as your geographic location). In general, patients typically need three to four sessions for ideal results, but that will depend on what you’re treating. It is best to consult with your physician to determine an individualized treatment plan.
How to prep: It is recommended to avoid sun exposure before and throughout treatment. A sunblock of SPF 30 or higher should be worn daily during this time.
What to expect during the procedure: It is a non-invasive, relatively comfortable treatment. Before and during the procedure, cooling will be applied to the skin using a built-in cooling device in order to optimize comfort. During the procedure, pulses of light are applied to the skin, and patients typically feel a mild heating sensation as the light enters the skin. Treatment sessions can take as little as 15 to 20 minutes (however, treatment time varies based on the condition and area being treated).
What to expect afterwards: Most patients notice results right away, and often feel a firming or tightening of the treated area. There is typically no downtime. Most patients resume normal day-to-day activities immediately following treatment. Some patients experience redness or mild swelling in the treated area immediately after their session, but this usually goes away in a few hours.
What it does: This is the first and only dual laser device with dual wavelengths — 1064 nm and 532 nm wavelengths — in one laser system. PicoWay helps remove tattoos (including multi-colored designs and stubborn-to-remove ink) and benign pigmented lesions on any skin type. PicoWay delivers ultra-short picosecond pulses of energy to the tissue, and these bursts of energy create a photo-mechanical impact, which breaks up the tattoo ink or pigmentation into smaller, more easily eliminated particles.
Who is a candidate: For this laser, you should consult with a doctor to see if it’s right for your needs.
What it costs per session: It’ll depend on the number of sessions and size of the area, but the average price for a smaller area is $250, while larger areas cost more. While many patients see dramatic results after just one appointment, some will need more. However, on average, most patients need two to three sessions for best results, spaced out every four weeks. Talk to your provider about what is best for you.
How to prep: Sun exposure to the treatment area should absolutely be avoided, and you should not use UV tanning beds for four weeks before treatment (or preferably ever!).
What to expect during the procedure: During the procedure, the treatment provider applies the laser light to the targeted area. Ultra-short pulses of light break up unwanted pigment and stimulate collagen production. The procedure lasts about 20 minutes. Because the device features fast pulses, the skin absorbs less heat, resulting in less downtime. Patients generally say that PicoWay causes minimal discomfort.
What to expect afterwards: Most patients experience low to no downtime. Immediately afterward, patients can return to normal activities (ideal if you need a treatment during your work day). However, the treated area may stay red for a few hours. Some clients experience temporary lightening or darkening of the skin, but it usually goes back to its normal pigmentation color.