Sun damage is the skincare enthusiast’s worst nightmare, and with good reason. The havoc that UV rays can wreak on the skin’s appearance and function runs deep. It not only causes skin sagging, brings out dark spots and exacerbates scarring, but it also disrupts skin cell turnover, slows collagen production and increases your risk of skin cancer. Aestheticians, dermatologists, facial plastic surgeons and other beauty experts consistently recommend wearing sunscreen every day and limiting sun exposure as the best ways to preserve skin health over the course of a lifetime.
But for those of us who spent our younger years chasing that sunkissed tan, living in Austin’s hot and sunny climate or simply shirking our skincare duties, it may be a question of how to repair existing sun damage and prevent it from recurring in the future. One of the most popular and effective ways to reduce the signs and effects of sun damage — and to treat a range of other skin concerns, from acne to wrinkles — is with laser skin treatments. These treatments use laser light and heat energy to target and eliminate damaged skin cells and structures. In turn, the elimination of the damaged tissues triggers the body’s natural repair processes and renews the skin from the inside, out.
As you recover from a laser treatment, though, your skin will be extra-sensitive to the elements — including UV rays. It’s well-known among the beauty and aesthetics community that it’s essential to shield your skin from the sun after a laser treatment of any type. This leads to a common question: is it safe to have these treatments during the sunny summer months? The short answer is yes — but you do need to be careful about covering up during your recovery period, and you should avoid direct sun exposure for at least a week or more depending on which laser treatment you have had. At our practice, we offer several laser skin treatments that can treat different concerns. Each type of laser comes with its own set of best recovery practices. Learn more below, or contact us today to schedule your consultation with us at Austin Cosmetic Medspa and find out how you can get refreshed, glowing skin at any time of the year.
Halo™ is a hybrid fractional laser system that can be adapted to address a variety of skin concerns, including redness and rosacea, enlarged pores, fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots and scars and uneven skin tone. Its versatility is matched by its effectiveness — most patients see the results they want in just one or two treatments, thanks to the Halo™ system’s skin mapping software and fully customizable settings.
The Halo™ process is simple and comfortable. Your appointment will take about two hours, first about one hour to administer a topical anesthetic, then about a half hour for the laser and then some time for recovery. While you will not feel any significant pain or discomfort during the recovery process, many patients do prefer to stay out of the public eye because the skin will appear red, dark or flaky for about a week. Your skin may also feel dry and itchy at times. The intensity of these side effects will depend upon the intensity of your Halo™ treatment. We provide recovery kits for our patients to reduce the dryness, itching, and redness.
When it comes to sun exposure after Halo™, we require patients to wear a sunblock starting the day after their treatment. We also strongly advise continuing with a sunscreen regimen daily even after full recovery. Your post-treatment sunscreen should be a physical sunblock (one made with zinc or titanium oxide) of at least 30 SPF with both UVA and UVB protection. It is best to stay out of direct sunlight, but you may be outdoors with proper sunblock. You should also consider wearing a wide brimmed hat or staying in shaded areas while you heal.
For best results and to avoid further damage to your skin, we also suggest the following:
- Use a gentle cleanser daily during the healing process
- Cover skin with an occlusive like Aquaphor for the first few days
- Do not pick at or scratch your skin while it is peeling
- Use a moisturizer to reduce discomfort and dryness
- Avoid strenuous exercise and sweating for the first few days
BroadBand Light (BBL)
BBL treatments are a form of broad band light, therapy, very similar to intense pulsed light (IPL). These gentle yet effective treatments can use a variety of light wavelengths to target different skin concerns. Dr. Christine Fisher’s Med Spa provides two BBL treatments: Forever Young™ for anti-aging, and Forever Clear™ for acne.
The Forever Young™ treatment not only treats existing signs of aging like dark spots, wrinkles and visible blood vessels, it can also be used as a preventive treatment to stop signs of aging from developing. One study found that when independent evaluators estimated the ages of BBL patients who received one Forever Young™ treatment per year for 5 to 11 years looked an average of 10 years younger than their actual age.
Forever Clear™ targets acne with blue, yellow and infrared light pulses that kill bacteria, calm redness and heal the skin, both clearing existing blemishes and preventing new ones from forming. This highly effective three-step regimen is not available with any other IPL device currently on the market. Forever Clear™ can treat both adolescent and adult acne on several areas of the body including the face, back and neck.
Most clients require multiple BBL treatments for best results. Our skin care and laser specialist Sandy Lanier, PA-C maps out each patient’s ideal treatment schedule at their consultation appointment. After Forever Young™ and Forever Clear™ treatments, some side effects like tingling and redness may persist for a few hours. The skin may also be sensitive for a few days. Patients should avoid unprotected sun exposure for 7 to 14 days after a BBL session — we recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, and covering the treated area with clothing or hats.
Other essential recovery requirements following your session include:
- Avoid pools or spas with chemicals and chlorine
- Do not shave the treated area
- Avoid strenuous exercise that may cause excessive sweating
- Do not scrub or exfoliate the treated area
Our Contour TRL™ laser peel addresses our clients’ most common skin complaints, including wrinkles, enlarged pores, sun spots, textured skin and uneven skin tone. Contour TRL™ is exceptionally precise, allowing it to address finer details than other laser treatments. Laser resurfacing is typically not recommended for fine lines around the nose and eyes, but Contour TRL™ is approved for use in these areas.
The Contour TRL™ device offers multiple settings, allowing for customization to the client’s needs and comfort levels. We can provide both surface peels for quick skin brightening, deeper peels for mild to moderate concerns and full facial resurfacing for more intensive skin rejuvenation.
Due to the customizability of these procedures, recovery time varies considerably — from just a few days to a week or two. Side effects from laser peels of any intensity may include temporary redness, swelling, flaking or peeling. We recommend avoiding direct sun exposure for up to two months after treatment. While this may be shortened for clients who choose lighter peels, it is always best to protect your skin as much as possible. You should wear a broad-spectrum sunblock with an SPF of 30 or higher as soon as your skin has healed, and you should use protective headwear or clothing and stay in the shade until you are able to wear sunblock.
To ensure your skin’s safety during recovery, we also recommend:
- Using over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol to manage discomfort
- Cleansing skin daily with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser
- Avoiding picking or scratching at skin while it is peeling
- Protecting skin with an occlusive like Aquaphor until peeling has subsided
- Avoiding skin contact with harsher soaps or shampoos
Though highly rated for safety and efficacy, all laser treatments do come with some risk of adverse reaction — and these risks may be raised by sun exposure following treatment. We always provides thorough aftercare instructions and encourage patients to reach out with any questions or concerns during their recovery process. We want to minimize risks as much as possible and ensure optimal outcomes for every client.
If you are considering a laser treatment this summer, don’t let an upcoming pool party or beach day stop you from getting the smoother, younger looking or clearer skin you really want. Our team at Austin Cosmetic Med Spa will work with you to provide your ideal laser treatment safely and effectively, and we will give you personalized, easy-to-follow aftercare instructions to ensure that your newly rejuvenated skin isn’t in any danger while you recover. Contact us to schedule your consultation today: call us at (512) 815-0123 or get in touch online.
Christine Fisher MD