Treatment Spotlight: What is a Photofacial?
Often times we get asked by patients which type of treatment is best for their skin. Well, for someone with sun damage or broken blood vessels, we typically recommend a photofacial treatment.
A photofacial is used to treat the signs of sun damage on the face. It is the general term used to describe the laser treatment that targets both blood vessels and sunspots on the face. A photo facial can be performed with multiple different lasers depending on what brand name of laser your doctor uses.
Depending on which doctor you see, you may have two different lasers combined to do your a photofacial or one laser with different settings.
Blood vessels are targeted by a specific wavelength targeting hemoglobin. This allows the laser to destroy blood vessels. A different setting or laser can be used to target the pigment or melanin in a sunspot vest bringing it to the surface and allowing it to slough off.
This laser usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes from beginning to end. It usually does not require numbing medication topically although if you have a very low threshold for discomfort you can request topical numbing medication at our office.
Here’s the four-step process that would happen during your photofacial treatment:
1. Usually, a cold gel will be applied to the surface of the skin or a cool tipped laser will be used, sometimes even both will be performed in the same patient.
2. Next, I do a full pass on the face to treat the very light sunspots and background redness at a lower setting and largest tip.
3. After the background pass is performed, I will then do more tailored settings for linear blood vessels and darker brown spots that are more visible. In between different passes I will change the tips too large or small and change the settings based on the diameter of blood vessels and the darkness of the sunspot. At times I may even let the skin cool in between setting changes to ensure safety.
4. After your photo facial sunscreen will be applied and you are able to drive yourself home. Some people experience some mild swelling, while most people experience a sunburn-type redness of the face for a day or so and a darkening of the sunspots as the pigment comes to the surface. Rarely bruising, blistering, or other problems may arise.
You should expect some redness and swelling for 1 to 3 days, and you should expect darkening of the brown spots for 3 to 7 days before they slough off.
Some important things to remember about a photo facial:
1. Usually a photo facial requires more than one treatment to effect desired results
2. You should not have any significant sun exposure for six weeks prior to a photo facial
3. Photo facials are not usually indicated for darker skin types
4. Despite the fact that the photo facial is one of the most common lasers performed in Reno and in Nevada, there can be complications. Please ask your provider what their qualifications are, how many lasers they have performed of this type, and what things you should avoid before and after to make sure that you are in experienced hands.
If you’d like to schedule an appointment for a photofacial in Reno, NV, please call our offices at 775-398-4600.
~ Dr. Jennifer Janiga