Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (LASER) was originally described as a theoretical concept by Albert Einstein in 1917 and has since grown by leaps and bounds into the complex multi-billion dollar business it is today. Lasers have made it possible to treat what was once thought impossible, with reduced risk and cost to the patient. Lasers of today are capable of producing results including:
To truly understand how laser technology works, you must have a concise understanding of the theory or science behind it, the range of different platforms available and the way in which they are utilised to treat different skin types and conditions.
A beam of laser energy is an extremely specific wavelength of light of the same colour, travelling in the same direction while maintaining its intensity over a prescribed distance. This all takes place in unison when the laser beam is fired. The end result is an extremely tight, focused beam of energy concentrated enough to precisely target a specific point. This is where Intense Pulse Light (IPL) and Laser differ.
For example, when treating broken capillaries in the face, a wavelength of 532nm (nanometers) is selected. Once the laser beam is fired, the energy travels through the skin and is absorbed by the capillary. This is where the colour of the laser beam is important because different colours of light are attracted and absorbed by specific structures within the skin. This process is technically known as “selective thermolysis”. In this particular instance, 532nm is a green light which is attracted to capillaries, whereas a 694nm wavelength of light is red in colour and mostly attracted to pigmentation such as freckles. Once a freckle has absorbed laser energy, it is broken down by the body and disposed of. The freckle will crust up, form a scab and then fall off within 1 to 3 weeks. This amazing technology allows lasers to select their targets without damaging the surrounding tissue.
What causes a laser to target different tissue within the skin is controlled by its wavelength also known as the energy of the light. Many high-end lasers of today are manufactured as multi-platform stations which allow for many different wavelengths within the one system, making it very convenient to have multiple conditions treated simultaneously. It also makes it more cost-effective for Doctors and Specialists who can now purchase one laser machine as opposed to 2 or 3.
The other major benefit of these multi-platform units is the ability to upgrade.
With the technology moving so rapidly, having the option to upgrade allows for new handpieces and software to be added while still using the same base unit. Again, this is cost effective and much easier to provide the latest technology and in turn, the best results possible.
There are many medical lasers today, but they all mainly use the principle of Selective Photo Thermolysis, which means getting the right amount (power and exposure time) of the right wavelength of laser energy to the right tissue to damage or destroy only that tissue, and nothing else. This helps to ensure that the heat energy is confined to the intended target while the rest of the skin is left relatively unaffected (fewer complications).
To perform a laser procedure properly, the operator needs to use a laser with the right wavelength then select the appropriate power (fluence) and exposure time (pulse width) to achieve selective destruction of the target tissue.
IPL is intense pulse light; not a laser. This is a common misconception in the marketplace. They are broadband lights which have the ability to target multiple Chromophores (e.g.pigment, capillaries and collagen). The Sciton BBL (Broad Band Light) is an example of a high-quality IPL that enables multiple targets in a single treatment.
LED Lights(Ominlux) produce (non-coherent, monochromatic light through spontaneous emission, as compared to lasers which produce coherent, monochromatic light through stimulated emission. This means that LEDs have a light which has a low peak power output is therefore incapable of causing the destruction of a Chromophore (like pigment, hair or capillaries) but it can stimulate collagen and has a place in Facial rejuvenation. It is also useful for the treatment of active acne. Cosmos Clinic uses it for Photodynamic Therapy which helps with active acne and pigmentation.
Lasers should only be used by medical practitioners as they are very powerful tools particularly if they are used for resurfacing.
IPL’s are used by many non-medical practitioners with varying results. You can find hair removal clinics popping up everywhere but many are operated by inexperienced operators.
There is no regulation as to who can use a laser or IPL in NSW, ACT or SA, nor a standard course as yet.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recently put in place regulation to stop the use of non-TGA approved machines in the hope to stop the flurry of unsafe, cheap IPLs on the market.
LEDs are safe to use outside medical practices.
Photo-Rejuvenation is the process of using light energy to stimulate collagen remodelling, and remove irregular pigmentation and/or enlarged blood vessels from the skin surface. The stimulation of collagen will help with the removal of fine lines and skin tightening.
A good candidate is a patient who has researched their condition and their treatment options and is able to comprehend the steps needed to achieve the desired outcome.
Take home LED light are the new craze in the US.
Fractional Laser Technology will continue to improve so that lasers will be able to penetrate deeper with less downtime
All in one units: where you can dial up a wavelength, exposure time, energy and decide whether you want the beam to be fractional or not. In Cosmos Clinic’s opinion, the Sciton Laser leads the way in this technology and is the only laser used at all Cosmos Clinics. It is the best all in one unit currently available on the market. It has a very powerful and specific IPL, two infrared lasers (1064nm and 1320nm), a non-fractional and a fractional erbium. Just about any treatment can be done with the one machine(including pigment, hair and skin tightening treatments). Soon a Q switch modality will be added and this will allow tattoo removal to be performed as well.