February 12, 2020

What you ought to know before having a laser treatment

From skin pigmentation to enlarged pores, acne scarring and saggy skin, medical laser treatments
seem to have all your skin woes covered. While the benefits of lasers have garnered rave reviews
and gained an ever enlarging fan base in recent years, one shouldn’t undermine or be oblivious to
potential adverse side effects that can cause more harm than good to the skin. So before you say
‘yes zap me please’, here’s a rundown of the dos and don’ts you ought to take note to make
sure you’re on the right track.

DO find a reputable doctor, DON’T get caught in the price war

The same sewing machine in the hands of different dressmakers and seamstresses can churn out
garments meant for H&M or weave those worthy of the gold-gilded double Cs buttons of Chanel.
In other words, a machine is only as good as the user who operates it, medical lasers included. In
Singapore, in accordance with the stringent rules stipulated by NEA (National Environmental
Agency), under the Private Hospitals & Medical Clinics Act, licenses for medical lasers are only
awarded to trained and registered doctors and licensee shall operate the laser(s) licensed only in
registered healthcare establishments. You should therefore be wary of beauty salons or spas touting
illegal laser treatments bearing an exceedingly attractive price tag. If it’s too good to be true, it
probably is.

DO find out more, DON’T assume one is for all

It is of course important to establish a trusting doctor-patient relationship and be guided by your
doctor’s recommendation, but one should not undergo laser treatments without first finding
more details about it. Different kinds of lasers are used to treat different types of skin condition
for optimal outcome. It is certainly not a “one size fits all” kind of situation, and treatment will
have to be individually tailored to give the best results. For instance, skin pigmentation alone comes
in many different forms, meaning different lasers are meant for different types of pigmentation. In that sense, response to treatment will vary with regards to the type of lasers employed. If the
clinic offers only ONE singular type of pigment laser, treatment for some targeted pigmented skin
woes will bound to be sub-optimal. In worst case scenarios, it might even aggravate the pigment or
cause harm to skin.

DO get it done at regular intervals, DON’T overdo it

To understand this, one must first grasp the underlying concept of laser therapy. Unlike say oral
antibiotics or surgical excision, lasers themselves do not directly treat the presenting skin issues such
as melasma or acne scarring. Instead, they cause “controlled injury” to the skin and jumpstart the
innate mechanism of skin repair and rejuvenation for the eventual outcome. The beneficial effects of
most lasers are cumulative by nature, and statistically speaking, appreciable results are visible after
an average of 5 to 6 sessions done at regular intervals. For most laser treatments, it is generally recommended to be done at monthly intervals to give your skin adequate time to rest and repair before subjecting it to another round of 'stress'. This is based on the scientific fact that skin-cells turn-over is on average, 28 days for most. Depending on each individual patient's skin concerns, I would prefer to put them on a structured treatment program which they should commit to in order to address their needs adequately in a comprehensive manner for the best possible results.

While it is important to keep closely to a schedule to realize the full potential of lasers, doing it more often than recommended can backfire and lead to more harm than good. For instance, the Medlite Q-switch NdYag Laser is a tried and tested technology that offers hope and gives good results when used correctly to treat the unsightly darkened skin patches of melasma. However, overzealous treatment by the ignorant or ill-informed led to an emerging trend of Guttate Hypomelanosis, an undesirable side effect characterized by raindrops-liked white patches of skin depigmentation that is notoriously difficult to reverse. This is most likely the cumulative effect of low dose laser treatment which inadvertently destroyed the pigment-producing mechanism of normal functioning melanocytes when done too frequently. We heard of clinics offering lasers 3 times a day! That is certainly not done in the interest of the patient. Less is often more and more is not always merrier when it comes to laser treatments, and one should be cautious not to land yourself in this pitfall.

DO have a good skincare regime, DON’T overlook it

There’s quite a number of patients who mistakenly believe that lasers alone is what it takes to tackle their skin woes fully. That apart from getting regular laser treatments, there is no need to look after their skin on a daily basis. This cannot be further away from the truth. A good skincare regime not only provides the necessary “nutrients” to support the regenerative skin rejuvenating processes post laser treatment, it also to ensure necessary protection against skin stressors such as the sun, smoke and free radicals from environmental pollutants. Our delicate treated areas are exposed to such insults the moment we wake until we sleep. In addition, having a sound daily skincare plan helps maintain the results achieved from your laser treatments and prevent or delay the onset of recurrence of pigmentations, acne, fine lines, etc.

If you do not believe in lifestyle modifications such as smoking cessation, minimizing alcohol consumption and a healthy sleep pattern, chances are that intrinsic aging and extrinsic factors will catch up in no time to undo all the goodness your laser treatments had achieved. We firmly believe that good skincare needs to address the basic characteristics of one’s skin. Whether you have intrinsically oily, dry, combination, sensitive, acne prone skin or even the so-called good skin, you need to look after your skin with the right stuff. With our arsenal of high quality toners, exfoliants, serums, creams and oral supplements, we are well positioned to battle skin ageing. When used correctly in combination with laser treatments, you will find your skin will exude a radiance that friends and family will gush over.

Good skin happens by appointment, not by chance.