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Cosmetic Laser Questions Answered… IPL, Fraxel (Fractional), Laser Hair Removal, Ultherapy, CoolSculpting

There’s an endless world of options with lasers these days. IPL, Fraxel (Fractional), Laser Hair Removal, Ultherapy, Liposonix, CoolSculpting, Venus Viva, Venus Legacy and more than we could even list here without boring you to death. But do they work? How do they work? There’s a million questions around them to ask… so let’s get started!

IPL Photofacial, also similar to BBL

What does it do?best-ipl-st-louis

IPL and BBL are effective methods to remove age spots, broken capillaries, rosacea and melasma.

Does it work?

This is such a tricky question to answer. IPL results range tremendously from location to location and MedSpa to Spa to Doctor’s Offices. Ironically, it may not matter if your doctor’s office is doing it or some MedSpa in a strip mall. What really matters is the quality of the machine and the level of experience of your technician. There are lots of questions that should be answered when getting an IPL. The biggest one being Are You Sure Your Laser Technician Is Certified? It seems like a question that shouldn’t have to be asked but it truly is. With IPL or BBL the machines and technician absolutely effect the outcome. Want to learn more? Check out these 2 blogs: Case Study: IPL Photofacial On The Chest  and What Is An IPL (Photofacial) And What Can It Do For My Face?

Does it hurt?

They are a little uncomfortable but not unbearable. It feels like a rubber band snap without the stinging sensation afterwards. Generally you leave feeling hot like a sunburn and look pink with some of your dark spots darkening before you leave.

How many treatments does it take?

The quality of the machine and the technician determines how many treatments you need. In our office you can commonly be finished with your treatments after 1-3 times but many offices elsewhere quote 4-6 for effectiveness. Generally the higher number is related to the age and maintenance of the machine. A new or uneasy technician may require you have more treatments as well.

Can I have sun exposure after?

Absolutely not. The IPL laser does not play well with the sunshine. It doesn’t mean you can’t go out in the sun, it just means you must WEAR LOTS OF SUNSCREEN AND REAPPLY. Additionally, I wouldn’t head on a tropical vacation immediately after an IPL either.  It makes you highly sun-sensitive for about 2 weeks after the treatment, sometimes longer.

Is it safe on all skin types?

It unfortunately is not. It is safe for skin types I-III on the Fitzpatrick Scale. Riskier skin types would be those with Hispanic, African American or Middle Eastern heritage. Even sometimes Italian skin types have some issues with the IPL. When in doubt, ask your technician.

What does it cost?

Single treatments range from $200-1000.

What’s the downtime?

Usually around 3-7 days on the face, longer on the chest, neck, arms and legs. For vein or rosacea treatments you usually look better within a day or two. For age spots it can take a full week to clear completely.

How long before I see results?

It takes 4-6 weeks to see the finished effect of an IPL.

Fraxel or Fractionated Laser or Ablative Laser or CO2 Laser

fraxel-laser

What does it do?

Fractional Lasers (all fall in this category) do deep damage to the surface and underneath the skin to promote pigment removal, collagen increase, tightening, remove acne scars and more.

Does it work?

It does work with a big caveat… it has lots of risk and lots of downtime and you have to stay out of the sun for months afterwards. Additionally it isn’t safe for all skin types. It’s effective for tightening and acne scarring but generally requires 3 treatments for full effectiveness.

Does it hurt?

Fractional Lasers are very painful. There are places that actually do it in only in a surgical environment so as to control the pain. It is extremely uncomfortable for days or weeks afterwards as well.

How many treatments does it take?

Generally speaking 1-3 treatments are recommended depending on the result you’re trying to achieve.

Can I have sun exposure after?

Absolutely not. Fractional lasering is an enemy of sunshine. I’ve seen clients have issues with Post Inflammatory Pigmentation (PIH) and an increase risk of getting age spots/melasma and more for up to 6 months after the procedure.

Is it safe on all skin types?

Like the IPL it is not. It is safe for skin types I-III on the Fitzpatrick Scale. Riskier skin types would be those with Hispanic, African American or Middle Eastern heritage.

What does it treat?

Pigmentation issues, wrinkling, loss of elastin, acne scars and melasma.

What does it cost?

There’s a wide range of pricing for this but it generally falls between $1500-5000.

What’s the downtime?laser-peel

Commonly we see a solid 8-10 days of downtime with this procedure and weeks before full recovery. The skin also remains highly sensitive for months after the procedure. Remember Samantha from Sex In The City? This is likely the treatment she got!

How long before I see results?

It takes 2-3 months to see the finished effect of an Fractional Laser.

Venus Viva Pro Fractional Laser

fix-acne-scars-stl

 What does it do?

Venus Viva is a non-surgical solution for skin resurfacing that corrects signs of skin damage and improves the appearance of acne scars and other scars, stretch marks, rosacea, enlarged pores, deep wrinkles, and uneven skin texture and pigmentation (aka age spots).

Does it work?fix-surgical-scars

Venus Viva works well on many issues with the skin. You can literally attack issues like age spots, rosacea and wrinkles all in a single treatment. It also does phenomenally with acne scars and other surgical scars.

Does it hurt?

If you can safely using a numbing product like Lidocaine cream you can barely feel it. Without it, it is a little sting feeling but not terrible.

How many treatments does it take?

Generally speaking 1-3 treatments are recommended depending on the result you’re trying to achieve.

Can I have sun exposure after?

You wouldn’t want to go on a tropical vacation immediately (2 weeks or less) after your treatment but generally speaking this is a very safe treatment to do all year round.

Is it safe on all skin types?

The Venus Viva is completely safe on all skin types.

What does it treat?

Pigmentation issues (age spots), wrinkling, loss of elastin, rosacea, acne scars and melasma.

What does it cost?

There’s a wide range of pricing for this but it generally falls between $250-1200.

What’s the downtime?microneedling-st-louis

Generally speaking there is usually one day of redness, some folks don’t even get red. Sometimes around the eye area you’ll wake up puffy in the mornings only for a few days afterwards. You can also see or even feel the little dots on your skin for a few days afterwards.

How long before I see results?

It takes 4-8 weeks to see the finished effect of an Venus Viva.

Laser Hair Removal

 best-laser-hair-removal-stlWhat does it do?

LHR devices do permanent hair reduction. It is specifically designed for darker hairs only. It doesn’t work on blond or gray hairs. Additionally it is not very effective for Fitzpatrick Skin types V-VI. See here to find out if you fall into those skin types.

Does it work?

It does for sure but not on everyone the same. Folks that get the best results with this laser have light skin and dark, coarse hairs. The greater the difference between your skin color and hair color, the faster and easier it will work. There are a variety of issues that can reduce effectiveness of hair removal. In particular, women with PCOS and/or severe hormonal imbalance tend to have a harder time with Laser Hair Removal. Additionally if you have light skin color and light hair color or very dark skin color with dark hair color, it is very difficult to get an effective treatment. Darker skin tones should pre-treat with a medicine called Hydroquinone to achieve the best possible results. Want to learn more detailed information on Laser Hair Removal? Read more here at How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

Does it hurt?

Laser Hair Removal has come a long way in the pain department. It used to be miserably uncomfortable! With the increase in technological advances though it has become quite tolerable. The sensation of the device is literally felt for only milliseconds and is a minor snap. With newer machines that include suction, it increases the comfort level even more.

How many treatments does it take?

Generally speaking 6-8 treatments are recommended depending on the area treated. If you suffer from PCOS or other hormone imbalances you may have ongoing treatments for years to truly reduce your hair issues. Treatments are usually done 6-8 weeks apart depending on the area.

Can I have sun exposure after?

Absolutely not. Tanned skin before a treatment or tanning the skin after treatment is a sure recipe to get a burn. You should go at least 2 weeks after sun exposure before you get a treatment or 2 weeks after to get sun exposure after a treatment. Due to this, the fall/winter is the best time to do these treatments.

Is it safe on all skin types?

It isn’t safe for Fitzpatrick skin type VI. It isn’t effective for very light-skinned/light-haired or very dark skinned clients.

What does it treat?

Permament hair reduction.

What does it cost?

This is a complicated answer! There are places (usually ones where the service doesn’t work as well) that Groupon the service as low as $30 per treatment. I absolutely DO NOT recommend using Groupon for any laser services, read here to learn more… Additionally there are places where an actual salesperson pushes you into an insanely high price for Laser Hair Removal (think $8000 to get your back lasered!). The best places maintain their machines well, do not try to hard sell you, and do not use Groupon to sell you the service. For more things to look for, check out my blog, Are You Sure Your Laser Technician Is Certified?

What’s the downtime?

Most folks have almost no downtime or worst case scenario an hour or so of feeling hot.

How long before I see results?

You’ll see a 10-20% reduction right away but full results occur a month after your last treatment.

Cutera TruSculpt3D

What does it do?better-than-coolsculpting

The truSculpt® 3D body sculpting procedure takes a multi-dimensional approach to fat reduction and body sculpting by delivering a precise therapeutic temperature to the fat tissue in a unique way that gives clients the highest clinical efficacy in the shortest possible treatment time.

Does it work?

TruSculpt3D uses monopolar radio frequency. It works by heating your fat to approximately 47 degrees Celsius to permanently destroy some of the fat cells in the area. It simultaneously destroys fat and tightens the skin while remaining comfortable.

Studies show this device destroys 24% of the fat cells in the area in a single treatment. It’s positive response in the market has been overwhelming and it works faster than CoolSculpting with the benefits of skin tightening …which CoolSculpting lacks.

Does it hurt?

During the treatment you feel warm, even hot sometimes, but it is otherwise very comfortable.

How many treatments does it take?

You will see results in a single treatment with TruSculpt3D.

Can I have sun exposure after?

You can, sun exposure has no effect on the procedure before or after the treatment.

Is it safe on all skin types?

It is safe for all skin types. What’s great is that unlike CoolSculpting you cannot be too fat or too skinny to have this procedure done.

What does it treat?

TruSculpt3D does permanent fat reduction in areas such as chin, arms, stomach, love handles and thighs.

What does it cost?

The cost typically ranges between $750-3000 for a personalized treatment plan depending on the number of areas treated.

What’s the downtime?

Most folks have almost no downtime or worst case scenario an hour or so of feeling warm.

How long before I see results?

You start seeing results at around 6 weeks and it takes up to 3 months to see the final result.

CoolSculpting

 What does it do?coolsculpting-st-louis

CoolSculpting contours your body by freezing unwanted fat away with no surgery or downtime.

Does it work?

CoolSculpting uses a procedure known as cryolipolysis. It works by placing a section of fat into a handpiece that cools the fat to a freezing temperature.

A 2009 study looked at the clinical efficacy of cryolipolysis. The researchers found that cryolipolysis reduced the treated fat layer by as much as 25 percent. The results were still present six months after the treatment. Frozen, dead fat cells are excreted out of the body through the liver within several weeks of treatment, revealing full results of fat loss within three months.

Does it hurt?

Most clients say that it doesn’t hurt after 15 minutes into the service. There is a small percentage of folks who do say it hurts the whole time (about 15% approximately.) Long term though, many folks report numbness for up to several months after the treatment and some report pain for a few days after as well.

How many treatments does it take?

It depends… if you have multiple areas to treat then yes for sure. Additionally, it can take 2-3 treatments in each area to be effective.

Can I have sun exposure after?

You can, sun exposure has no effect on CoolScupting before or after the treatment.

Is it safe on all skin types?

It is safe for all skin types.

What does it treat?

CoolSculpting does permanent fat reduction in areas such as chin, arms, stomach, love handles and thighs.

What does it cost?

The cost typically ranges between $2,000-$4,000 for a personalized treatment plan depending on the number of areas treated.

What’s the downtime?

Most folks have almost no downtime or worst case scenario an hour or so of feeling hot. Some folks do complain of extended numbness in the area for some time after the treatment.

How long before I see results?

It takes up to 3 months to see the final result.

Venus Legacy or Venus Freeze RF Skin Tightening

What does it do?better-than-ultherapy

Venus Legacy or Freeze delivers safe and effective treatments that shrinks fat cells and sculpts the body, smooths out cellulite, tightens sagging skin, and reduces fine lines and wrinkles on the face and body comfortably with no downtime.

Does it work?

The Venus Legacy or Freeze works well on cellulite, minor reduction in fat and more on the body. It works fantastically on chin and neck tightening as well as tightening in your lower face and even around the eyes. It uses multi-polar and octi-polar radio frequency wavelengths plus magnet therapy to penetrate deeply into the skin to shrink fat cells and tighten skin.

Does it hurt?

It feels like getting a hot stone massage. Warm and comfortable even, many clients can even sleep through a treatment.

How many treatments does it take?venus-legacy-is-amazing

It realistically takes 6-10 treatments to achieve efficacy.

Can I have sun exposure after?

You can.  Sun exposure has no effect on the procedure before or after the treatment.

Is it safe on all skin types?

It is safe for all skin types.

What does it treat?

Venus Legacy tightens skin in areas such as eyes, lower face, chin, arms, stomach, love handles and thighs.

What does it cost?

The cost typically ranges between $90-200 per treatment depending on the number of areas treated.

What’s the downtime?

There is no downtime with this procedure.

How long before I see results?

You start seeing results at around treatment 4-5 and it takes up to 3 months to see the final result.

Ultherapy

What does it do?ultherapy-doesnt-work

Ultherapy is a non-invasive procedure used to lift skin on the neck, under the chin and on the eyebrow. It uses ultrasound waves to tighten skin.

Does it work?

Sometimes… after working in an office that did a volume of treatments I would say that about 20-40% of folks were happy with their results. It’s difficult to measure it’s success because it takes a full 6 months to kick in. Results can sometimes be seen in a before and after but not always.

Does it hurt?

Personally I feel it is one of the most painful procedures out there. Generally a doctor or nurse will inject lidocaine to numb the patient PLUS give medications to reduce pain and anxiety during the procedure. Additionally, it definitely hurts more each time you have it done.

How many treatments does it take?ultherapy-doesnt-work

Ultherapy works in a single treatment.

Can I have sun exposure after?

You can, sun exposure has no effect on the procedure before or after the treatment.

Is it safe on all skin types?

It is safe for all skin types.

What does it treat?

Ultherapy tightens skin in areas such as eyes, lower face, and chin.

What does it cost?

The cost typically ranges between $2000-5000 per treatment depending on the number of areas treated.

What’s the downtime?

Common side effects are bruising, significant swelling and numbness (up to 6 weeks) in the area treated.

How long before I see results?

It takes up to 6 months to see the final result.

Whew!! Hopefully I hit the ones you’re curious about… If you ever have other questions, you can always email us.  We would love to hear from you.

References:

https://www.healthline.com/health/coolsculpting-does-it-work#overview1

Jennifer Warmann-Bloss

-Jennifer is a blogger, mom and owner of Elemental Esthetics in St Louis, MO

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