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Aesthetic Lasers

The beauty of science By Sarah Shupe, CMA AAMA Refined Aesthetics Med Spa, pllc

Aesthetic Lasers

Beauty is commonly described as a feature of objects that makes these objects pleasurable to perceive. We often do not associate science with beauty; however, science is the basis of aesthetic lasers, which have revolutionized the aesthetic industry by providing the ability to treat a vast variety of skin conditions. Laser treatments use the power of high-intensity light in different wavelengths that are tailored for treating specific types of blemishes or skin conditions. Aesthetic lasers are either ablative or non-ablative. Ablative work on the surface of the skin, impacting the outer layer of the skin only; non-ablative penetrates the tissues beneath the skin without affecting the surface. Each type of laser treats a specific condition. Below we break down the most common aesthetic lasers, their indications, and what to expect from treatment.


IPL lasers, or intense-pulsed light lasers, are designed to create an intense pulse of light that is perfectly suited for penetrating red and brown pigments within the skin. They are a non-ablative laser, and their primary use in aesthetics is for treating brown patches such as liver spots, sun damage, and relieving inflamed blood vessels beneath the skin’s surface. The pigment rises to the surface, often referred to as pilling, and exfoliates off in approximately a week. Vascular lesions or inflamed blood vessels will fade in intensity and appearance. IPL can be performed on most areas of the body, including the face, arms, neck, décolleté, and backs of hands. Sunscreen is required post treatment, and best results are generally achieved in three to five treatments. Pricing can vary depending upon the size of the area you are treating and your geographical location. On average, treatment for a full face varies between $350 and $500 per treatment.


CO2 lasers, or carbon dioxide lasers, use very short-pulsed light energy (ultra-pulsed) or continuous light beams that are delivered in a scanning pattern for skin resurfacing. The heat from the light energy causes tissue damage that stimulates collagen production.

They are in the ablative category of lasers and are used for the treatment of wrinkles, scars, acne, melasma and sun damage. Treatments are performed with general anesthesia in order to make the client comfortable and better able to tolerate the procedure. The skin will initially be quite raw and may have drainage immediately after laser treatment. It may also look and feel as if it is severely sunburned. Health-care professionals will cover the skin with a mask bandage for a few days. The skin will typically heal completely in two to four weeks, so it is important that you plan ahead before scheduling this procedure and avoid treatment before a big event or vacation. Pricing for CO2 laser ranges from $1,500 to $3,500 per treatment.


Diode lasers use semiconductor technology that produces coherent projection of light in the visible to infrared range, and are widely used for hair removal, which is one of the most popular non-surgical aesthetic procedures worldwide. The lasers damage the chromophores of the hair follicle by selectively heating them while leaving surrounding tissue unharmed. Laser hair removal targets the melanin in the hair follicles, which results in the disruption of hair growth and regeneration. You may experience some mild discomfort during the treatment that quickly subsides. There is no downtime associated with the treatment. Due to the laser targeting melanin, it is necessary for the skin to not have a tan, as it is unable to differentiate between the melanin from the tan and the hair follicle. Six treatments are needed on average to achieve complete removal of the hair. Most aesthetic and dermatology practices sell treatments in packages according to the size of the area being treated. Packages range from $750 to $1,000 for six treatments for a small area to $2,250 to $3,000 for six treatments for a large area.


YAG lasers use a neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet crystal to produce an infrared wavelength that allows practitioners to reach a deeper layer of tissue beneath the skin than many other types of lasers. It can be used to treat spider veins, varicose veins, birthmarks, facial veins, and hemangioma tumors. They can also be used for hair removal and tattoo removal. Downtime after treatment can be as long as a week for skin to return to normal. Cost of YAG laser treatments range from $250 to $1,200, with an average of $675 per treatment. Cost is dependent upon the area and what you are attempting to accomplish. For tattoo removal, a series of treatments are needed to have complete removal.

Science has helped the aesthetic industry develop treatments that improve skin health and appearance, and lasers are a large piece of the puzzle. If you are considering laser treatments, it is best to talk with your aesthetic practitioner about your aesthetic goals. They can help you determine which treatments are best for you and will help you accomplish your skin-care goals.

Science is always evolving, allowing for the advancement of aesthetics treatments, and lasers can help you reach your fullest potential.

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