Cosmetic Laser F.A.Q

Posted by Feroz Osman-Latib on

We have put together this FAQ from common questions that we receive about cosmetic laser. If you have a question that is not answered here please feel free to contact us by phone or email and we will be happy to answer your question.

What is the difference between surgical lasers and cosmetic low level lasers?

Power. Quite simply all lasers use the same technology but differ primarily in their power. High power lasers whose diodes are more than 500mW are class 4 lasers which have a cutting or heating effect and can damage tissue. These are useful for surgical procedures where heating of the tissues and cutting is required. While there are such lasers for use in cosmetic applications, they present a great risk when used incorrectly and are therefore primarily used by specialist medical practitioners trained in both the use of the laser as well as managing any adverse effects that may arise from it.

Low level lasers do not have a heating or cutting effect and are also often referred to as "cold laser" or "soft laser" for this reason. When used in this low level method, it has a biomodulatory effect, which means it stimulates and modulates tissues and biochemical function in a positive way.

What does low level laser do exactly?

Low level laser has 3 main effects:

  1. Repair and regeneration of damaged tissue
  2. Reduction of inflammation
  3. Reduction of pain
These effects are caused by absorption of the laser light into the cells that come in the path of the laser. These may be skin cells, fat cells, connective tissue cells etc. When these cells absorb laser light, some effects start to occur within the cells that energise them and in turn help them to heal themselves as well as produce cell proteins such as collagen, elastin etc that heal and strengthen then surrounding tissue. Laser also improves blood flow which itself is beneficial for conditions like dry skin, aging skin, wrinkles etc but it also helps in the removal of waste products and bringing nutrients to the area. 

What is the difference between LED and Laser?

Many companies deceptively market LED machines as laser whereas the two are different and have different treatment abilities. LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. It is not true laser. LED light does not have the ability to penetrate the skin and therefore its effects are limited to the first cell layer of the skin. If you only want to treat burns and open wounds then LED is fine. But if you want to have a laser lipo effect, treat acne, scars, varicose veins etc then you need greater penetration of the light which can only be achieved with laser. Laser light can penetrate up to 6cm deep within the body because of its coherence, and can therefore stimulate deeper tissues. LED is cheaper than laser and for this reason manufacturers use it instead of true laser diodes.

How does Laser cause fat loss?

When fat cells absorb laser light, the membrane pores open and a chemical pump is initiated that forces fat in the form of triglycerides out of the fat cell and into the surrounding tissue. This fat in the form of triglycerides is then absorbed into the bloodstream and circulates in the blood available for use as energy. It is essential that the patient/client be active after the therapy so that the released fat is not re-deposited.

How does laser treat acne?

Certain bacteria are present in sites of acne. These bacteria when exposed to laser light in either the red (660nm) or blue (405nm) wavelength(color) release a toxin called porphyrin that kills of the bacteria and eliminates the acne. Multiple treatments are required but this method is very effective and does not have the traditional side-effects associated with pharmaceutical options.

How does laser treat scars and wounds?

Scar therapy and wound healing with laser is effected by a number of mechanisms viz:

  • Increased blood flow to the area - Allows quicker removal of waste products and delivery of nutrients to the area
  • Increase activity of fibroblasts - This allows for quicker formation of collagen fibres
  • Conversion of fibroblasts to myofibroblasts - This causes quicker closing of the wound as myofibroblasts pull together the edges of the wound
Is cosmetic laser safe?

Yes. Cosmetic Low Level Laser is safe to use. There are a few precautions, the most important being that you should not direct the beam directly into the eyes. When doing facial rejuvenation treatment or treatments over the face the patient should wear protective eyewear. The therapist should also not shine the beam directly into their eyes and preferably should also wear protective goggles although it is not absolutely necessary. Low Level Laser should be avoided in photosensitive individuals or those using photosensitive drugs.

What is the difference between the home use lasers and the clinic versions?

Home use lasers are much lower power than their clinic counterparts. Since laser dosage is delivered over a period of time, this means that home use lasers will have to be used for a longer period to get the same effect as higher power clinic laser. Sometimes this can be as much as 5 times longer when considering that the average single diode on a home use laser is 10mW compared to a clinic machines diode which are a minimum of 50mW. As an example with a professional clinic hair loss laser 10minutes would be sufficient as compared to 60 minutes for a patient who was using a home use hair loss laser.

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