It happens to all of us as we get older. We look in the mirror and see the bags, wrinkles, and loose skin changing the face that was once so easily recognizable to us. In a desperate attempt to continue to look as young as we feel, we start looking for remedies: moisturizers to smooth out wrinkles; morning creams that claim to get rid of the bags under our eyes; specialized lotions that tighten the skin over time.
The problem with turning to these remedies is that few of them are truly effective. Since 2010, more and more people have turned to laser skin tightening treatments to help do away with the problem. Like any medical treatment, it is important to know what you are getting yourself into in terms of your long-term health.
Before turning to laser skin tightening treatments, it is important to educate yourself on the following:
• What is laser skin tightening?
• Can I get the treatment?
• How do I find a doctor?
• How is the treatment done?
• Does it require multiple treatments?
• What is the recovery period?
• How long does the treatment last?
• What are the risks and side effects?
What is laser skin tightening?
As people age, they lose elasticity in the skin, which causes fine lines and wrinkles. Laser skin tightening is a non-invasive alternative to having a complete face lift. The treatments are designed to stimulate collagen growth to create smoother skin and a more youthful appearance. There is very little down-time with this treatment, which is part of what makes it so popular.
Can I get the treatment?
Typically, the ideal age for laser skin tightening is between 30 to 60 years of age. Patients with major health issues are advised against the procedure because of potential risks involved with the treatment for skin tightening vs. the treatments that the health issues may require. The treatment is also ideal for patients who are only looking to resolve small problems. If there is a lot of sagging, you may be advised to consider the treatment with a face lift, or just to do the face life procedure to gain the best results.
The only way to be sure if you are a good candidate for the treatment is to schedule a consultation, be honest about your health and your goals, and let the experts decide.
How do I find a doctor?
There are facilities all over the US that are approved to complete the procedure. When looking for a doctor, make sure that they are using treatments that are FDA approved. The office should have no problem providing you with the information, and if they refuse it is a pretty good sign to look elsewhere. During your consultation, ask the doctor for references from previous patients, and ask to see a portfolio of before and after photos. These should give you a good gauge of his/her work.
How is the treatment done?
Infrared laser and radio-frequencies (RF) are emitted from a device that looks akin to a vacuum head against the skin. There is no suction involved. Instead, the skin is treated with the infrared and RF waves, which is designed to stimulate collagen growth that tightens the skin. Patients tend to experience a warm sensation on the skin where the treatment is applied, and in some cases there is minor discomfort, much like a rubber-band snapping lightly against the skin as it tightens.
Since the treatment is non-invasive, no anesthesia is required. There is only minor discomfort, which only lasts for a few minutes after the procedure is complete. The treatment itself takes between 30-60 minutes depending on individual treatment needs.
Does it require multiple treatments?
Not necessarily. Depending on the level of treatment required, you may need more than one treatment. Generally, only those who have more lines and sagging in the skin require more than one treatment to complete the skin tightening process.
What is the recovery period?
Since the treatment is non-invasive, recovery is generally very quick. Patients are out the door the same day they walk in. The doctor will give you a home treatment that is generally necessary for 2-5 days after the treatment. This regimen includes applying specialized SPF lotions to the skin to prevent the sun from damaging the collagen cells before they get a chance to fully recover. Results can take anyway from 3 to 6 months to come to complete fruition.
How long does the treatment last?
The length of effective time for the treatment after the procedure is complete depends on the individual. Exposure to the sun changes the lasting effects by individual and intensity of the original treatment. Typically, patients will return every 6 to 12 months for follow-up procedures that are not as extensive as the initial treatment.
What are the risks and side effects?
The treatment is FDA approved, and there are no significant risks involved. Some patients report minor side effects, such as redness and swelling of the skin, but these only last for a few days after the procedure. In rare cases, patients may experience mild pigment discoloration, bruising, or blisters.
– Submitted by Katherine Smith