[By Joanna Liew]
From skin pigmentation to enlarged pores, acne scarring and saggy skin, medical laser treatments seem to have your skin woes all 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 to a zap’, here’s a rundown of the dos and don’ts you ought to take note to make sure you’re on the right track.
#1— 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 weaved 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 to the strigent rules stipulated by MOH (Minstry of Heath), the governing body to ensure controlled healthcare standard, licenses for medical lasers are only awarded to trained and registered doctors. You should therefore be wary of beauty salons or spas touting laser treatments bearing an exceedingly attractive price tag. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
The Sloane Clinic is one of the the leading aesthetic clinics in Singapore and Malaysia with some of the most experienced physicians in the region to help defy the signs of aging or enhance your beauty potential with a wide range of FDA approved lasers manufactured by the original makers. To some extent it is true that “Beauty comes with a price”, and a sound investment will give peace of mind and good returns; for afterall we’ve only one face and it should deserve nothing but the best.
#2— DO find out more DON’T assume one is for all
It is of course important to establish a trusting doctor-patient relationship, but one should not undergo laser treatments without first finding out details about it. Different kinds of lasers are use to treat different types of skin condition for optimal outcome. It is certainly not a “one for 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 and 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 suboptimal.
#3— DO get it done at regular interval 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, I would recommend them to be done at monthly interval to give your skin adequate time to rest and repair before subjecting it to another round of ‘stress’.” Explains Dr. Chua Han Boon, senior medical aesthetic physician with over ten years of experience with laser therapy. “Depending on each individual patient’s skin concerns, I would prefer to put them on a structured treatment program which they can 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 realise the full potential of lasers, doing it more often than recommended can backfire and lead to more harm than good. For instance, the Q-switch NYag Laser is a trial 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 had led to an emerging trend of Guttate Hypomelanosis, an undesirable side effect characterized by raindrops-liked white patches of skin depigmentation that’s notoriously difficult to reverse. This is most likely the cumulative effect of low dose laser treatment which inadvertently destroys the pigment producing mechanism of even normal functioning melanocytes when done once too often. Less is often more and more is certainly not merrier when it comes to laser treatments, and one should be cautious not to land yourself in this pitfall.
#4— 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 and this cannot be further away from the truth. A good skincare regime not only provide the necessary “nutrients” to support the regenerative skin rejuvenating processes post laser treatment, it also ensure necessary protection against skin stressors such as the sun and free radicals from environmental pollutants which the delicate treated areas might be exposed to. In addition, keeping to a daily skincare plan helps maintain the results achieved from your laser treatments and prevent or delay the onset of reccurence. If you do not believe in lifestyle modifications such as smoking cessation and a healthy sleep pattern, chances are that intrinsic aging and extrinsic factors will catch up in no time to undo whatever goodness your initial laser treatments had offered.