These days it’s almost impossible to talk about skincare without bringing up laser treatments, but with so many types of lasers and a ton different information out there it can be a little confusing to actually understand what skin issues can be solved with the use of lasers. To help break down the most common types of laser treatments available we went to board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Gilly Munavalli of Dermatology, Laser & Vein Specialists of the Carolinas for answers.

Dr. Gilly Munavalli

What Age Should/Can You Start Laser Treatments?

According to Dr. Munavalli it all depends on the skin issue at hand. He’s treated a broad array of patients that ranges from as young as two weeks old for a port wine stain, all the way up to an 85 year-old who wanted help getting rid of noticeable veins.

The Most Common Types Of Laser Treatments & What Problems They Solve

There are a variety of cosmetic skin concerns that can be treated with lasers, but Dr. Munavalli says the most common skincare issues people come in with to get treated with lasers are discoloration on the face, photoaging (the red or brown spots that show up after years of sun exposure), and certain types of wrinkles.

Photoaging & Discoloration:

The best thing to do to tackle photoaging on the face is to get Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments done. Though an IPL isn’t technically a laser, it’s a light source that acts like a laser and erases those annoying red or brown spots that tend to show up after too much fun in the sun. And, your face isn’t the only body part that can benefit from IPL treatments. The light source can also get rid of any unwanted brown spots on the arms and hands. As an added bonus, there’s really no recovery or down time once you have the treatment. You’ll just have beautiful, even skin tone to show for it. For any discoloration/hyperpigmentation caused by old acne spots Dr. Munavalli customarily uses a pulsed dye laser to get the best results and most improvement.

Results after just two IPL treatments.

Wrinkles:

Firstly, it’s important to know that there’s a huge misconception about using lasers to treat wrinkles according to Dr. Munavalli. He notes that there are varying types of wrinkles and a majority of them should actually be treated with botox instead of lasers. For example: wrinkles on the brow or those pesky forehead lines are actually muscle lines that are caused by years of making facial expressions and should be treated with botox — not lasers. Then there are the wrinkles caused by sun damage, which are the type of wrinkles you’d use lasers to remove. However, Dr. Munavalli says it can be hard to tell the difference between the two, so it’s extremely important to go to someone who knows what they’re doing to help determine what type of wrinkles you have and then they can curate a treatment plan that’s right for you.

For women who have wrinkles that can be treated with lasers there are a number of exceptional options to choose from, including a few worthwhile resurfacing treatments that leave patients with dramatic results.

For older women who have deeply etched in lines there’s the holy grail of laser treatments — the fully ablative resurfacing procedure, which can basically eliminates all wrinkles and make someone look 10 years younger in just one treatment. The only downfalls are that the recovery from the procedure will put you out of commission for a couple of weeks and the treatment costs between $5k – $10k, but if you are a good candidate for the procedure it will produce unbelievable results when done correctly.

Other patients who may not have as deep of wrinkles or can’t take off weeks to recover can opt for a milder laser treatment known as fractional resurfacing. It’s is a low-level resurfacing procedure that’s done repetitively over several treatments to help with wrinkles as well as the crepey skin that tends to show up as we age.

A patient’s dramatic results after IPL and fractional laser treatments.

Advice:

Dr. Munavalli’s best advice when it comes to considering a laser treatment is to do your homework, go in and get a consultation, and then get a second opinion, because you really want to know what you’re getting into with laser treatments and it’s extremely important to know the person who will be performing the treatment is properly certified. Going to the wrong person can cause you to spend a lot of money without making any headway. It can also scar you irreversibly.