Thursday, June 23, 2016

Lasers Pew Pew Pew


About eight months ago during a Chicago visit I saw my friend Quenby at her cosmetic dermatology office for facial laser treatments. Here are the results!

Monday morning. Here I've already had BBL treatment for red and brown spots and my face is covered in numbing cream in preparation for the Halo laser. I also have eyelash extensions and suddenly remember how much I miss them. Note to self: have tiny hairs glued to eyelids whilst reflecting on how strange womanhood is.

The BBL treatment was brief and consisted of very short, zinging staccato zaps.

Click here to see before and after photos of a long term followup study of BBL. (Caveat reader: the authors are affiliated with the laser manufacturer but hey science ain't free).

NOTE: I am not a dermatologist and not much acquainted with the different types of lasers, indications, etc. Get your information from a reputable source and visit a board-certified dermatologist -- this is not a Groupon-type procedure!


In contrast, the Halo treatment took about 45 minutes and was very painful, because it took a long time and consisted of drawing the wand across my face, section by section (instead of zap here, zap there as the BBL was). I am also melodramatic and have a low pain threshold. I don't like getting my teeth cleaned, can't bear to load weight on my kneecap during yoga, etc. I complain about discomfort so you can imagine how I carry on when in pain.

For an hour after the procedure my face felt very hot (this is normal). This photo is four hours post-laser. 



Tuesday morning.







Wednesday morning. This looks painful but was actually completely painless. My face felt a bit tender to the touch and my face was taut with swelling so smiling felt awkward, but not painful.


Thursday morning. You would think Clem would have said something about my face but she didn't -- she probably couldn't articulate it then.


Friday morning. Swelling going down, sloughing starting.




Saturday morning.




Pretty quickly back to normal after this - so much so I forgot to take photos. I went about my daily schedule this entire time -- I am vain enough to have this procedure but not self-conscious enough to stay home (no reason to). If you'd ever like to know how much no one is looking at you, walk around with a red-brown peeling face and swollen eyes and observe no one even giving a second glance. (At least that's how it felt, but again, I'm not very self-conscious and disfigured people are commonplace where I work - everyone is conditioned/too polite to even look). The men I work with said: WTF did you do to yourself?! and the women said TELL ME EVERYTHING! and there's more fodder for nature-of-womanhood reflection.

I wish I had taken a 'before' photo where I could recreate a same-lighting 'after' but I didn't think of it. I have an assessment photo in the dermatology office and look forward to the 12-18 month out comparison. My skin overall isn't quite where I want it because 1) I'm struggling to find the right retinoid-exfoliant routine -- lately my skin has been pink and irritated + broken out (thanks no thanks Mirena) and 2) I don't have a regular Botox schedule (coming soon). Botox and epidurals really make me happy to be alive in the modern era.

Here's the best 'after' I have:




 Whoops, it's a face swap with dad that is real nightmare fuel.

Thoughts: I'll get a BBL treatment annually or semi-annually for brown/red spots (did you see the results of that paper?! Small cohort but long term follow-up - impressive results.) The Halo was mucho painful (remember: wimp) and will not do again for a few years (my settings were also 'aggressive' because I wanted the most bang for my buck and wasn't concerned about cosmetic downtime). There is a brown spot between my eyebrows that is visible on the first photo - it darkened and flaked off. So satisfying. My overall skin tone is much more even and, amazingly, my pores are less noticeable.

Other laser treatments: Spider vein assessment led to diagnosis of incompetent leg veins (no surprise there - family history + pregnancy); I had laser ablation of the greater saphenous veins in December and March. Each procedure was quick and easy with very little post-op discomfort. Post-op instructions included wearing compression stockings, walking a prescribed amount, and forgoing heavy exercise for two weeks. Some people told me how much lighter their legs felt after the procedure but I never had any symptoms like leg heaviness or noticeable swelling by the end of the day. Hopefully I won't develop varicose veins now, bringing me to the theme of this post:

   πŸ’₯πŸ’₯πŸ’₯The best defense is an offense armed with a laser! πŸ’₯πŸ’₯πŸ’₯

(Really, it's all about sun avoidance. This year's Sun Safety kit from Sephora is available - $20 of the proceeds go to the Skin Cancer Foundation. I like all the products in it that I've tried so far (but, as always, am mystified by the inclusion of self-tanner, which promotes the beauty standard of tanned skin.))

            Happy first days of summer, friends! If you need me I'll be lurking in the shade.
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