Remember the days when a trip to the facialist meant lying horizontal for an hour of cleansing, squeezing and layers of lotions and potions? Now, booking a beauty treatment means navigating a hi-tech menu with Nasa-worthy lasers to turn back the clock.
These beams are used for everything from rejuvenating the skin and banishing acne scars to zapping rosacea and sun damage.
The first laser was built in 1960 – the term laser originated as an acronym for ‘light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation’. Rapid technical developments have meant that these revolutionary lights have forever changed the face of the beauty game.
More and more people are turning to these as an alternative to more intrusive treatments such as going under the knife, in part due to the limited downtime.
Margaret Lorimer, founder of L’Esprit clinic in Dubai, says lasers are becoming the most popular way to wage war on ageing.
‘These days I find that clients are using lasers as a go-to first and even delaying using the options of Botox and fillers because of the great long-term effects.’
The most common use of lasers when they were introduced was for hair removal, but now everyone is using them as a quick fix for skin rejuvenation.
Dubai-based TV host Hermoine Macura says looking camera-ready at all times is a priority and she regularly uses lasers as part of her monthly beauty regime. ‘I used to love having facials at the salon but now I find laser treatments are convenient, there is little pain involved and they get almost instant results. Depending on what I want to focus on, whether it’s sun damage or fine lines, it’s my go-to beauty treatment.’
While it all sounds hi-tech, the science behind it is simple. Lasers basically direct short, concentrated pulsating beams of light on target areas. Lasers go deep beneath the skin dermis to injure the skin so the body has to heal, which boosts collagen and uncovers more youthful skin. Some remove the skin that has been dulled over time thanks to the environment, lifestyle and poor health choices, and uncover fresh, youthful skin beneath.
It’s important to remember that with laser technology developing at the speed of light, that not all lasers are created equal and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
When it comes to adding lasers to your skincare regime, there are two types to consider: ablative and non-ablative lasers.
Ablative lasers were among the first to be introduced for skin resurfacing and are fast and effective. The downside is that because of their superpowers, clients can be required to take time off normal activities as the skin starts to heal.
Think of it like peeling an orange – these high-energy beams remove the top of the epidermis layer by layer, forcing the body to repair itself; this in turn boosts collagen and helps erase signs of pigmentation and acne scars.
Sounds painful? Prior to the treatment the dermatologist usually applies an anaesthesia. The most common ablative lasers are the Fraxel RePair and Active Fx. Be warned though, after this treatment looking in the mirror might have you questioning your beauty-game sanity. Following the procedure, usually during the first week, the skin will flake and peel before the results of fresher-looking skin are revealed. Expect to see severely red skin that needs to be handled with extreme care and given time to heal out of direct sunlight – sometimes up to two weeks. It’s best to book when you don’t have to be seen on the party circuit.
Hollywood golden girl Jennifer Aniston describes herself as a ‘laser junkie’. The star admits she became obsessed with lasers after she noticed sun spots on her face thanks to her lifestyle in the Californian sun. She says of her laser experience, ‘It was like a peel that was extremely intense. I looked like a burns victim for a week and then my skin started to fall off for like eight days.”
While ablative lasers are highly effective, the most popular go-to laser today is the non-ablative option – it is less invasive and there is less downtime, which, let’s face, it is an attractive option when working long hours. The laser beams deep into the skin, but leaves the top layer of the skin intact.
The most popular fractional non-ablative laser on the market is the Fraxel Dual. These lasers work on skin rejuvenation, pigmentation and wrinkles as the heat encourages the skin to tighten to give a more youthful appearance.
Wavelengths of light penetrate deep into the skin and it is a great alternative for those looking to tighten up skin, especially around the chin area, and those who aren’t ready for more invasive procedures.
UK dermatologist Dr Rita Rakus is known for her celebrity list of clients. She says Fraxel facial laser treatments are among the most popular to rejuvenate the skin and are loved by London’s high society, who pop into her swish London bolthole each month for a laser fix.
Oscar winner and Goop guru Gwyneth Paltrow admits that she turns to the popular Thermage treatment, often referred to as ‘face ironing’, to banish wrinkles in her 40s.
“I don’t mind a few wrinkles and freckles. I had this laser treatment recently and it took a couple of years off my face, but I haven’t had any plastic surgery yet,” she says.
The Thermage facial is non-invasive and uses radiofrequency to smooth and tighten skin. The applicator targets energy to stimulate collagen production beneath the skin’s surface.
The best bit about these lasers are that there is limited downtime and little redness or flakiness. It’s also popular for women juggling work as it can be done in their lunch hour and patients can be back at their desk in under 60 minutes. While the treatment yields great results, they are not as powerful as ablative lasers so for optimum results patients require a succession of treatments, sometimes up to six, spaced apart.
One of the latest laser treatments on the market in Dubai is the Aerolase Lightpod. Margaret, of L’esprit clinic, which uses the laser, says it has 32 applications for cosmetic treatments so is among one of the most versatile in the region.
“It stands apart from other lasers due to the innovative technology. It is the size of a briefcase but most importantly it is great for those who want pain-free and problem-free treatments as we can treat all skin types without any downtime, risk of burning or, simply, pain. She adds that it is used by many Hollywood doctors.
Medical aesthetician at Dubai Cosmetic Surgery Lola Ali Mohammad says one of the most popular treatments at the clinic is the Carbon Laser Peel.
The treatment incorporates the use of a laser on the surface of the skin after a black carbon layer cream has been applied.
“The carbon layer cream acts as a photo-enhancer, which vaporises when the laser is applied – a thin layer of skin is lifted to reveal younger, glowing skin.
“It’s a lunch-hour procedure that is very popular with A-listers due to its non-invasive, zero pain and zero downtime qualities,” she explains.
After a laser treatment, dermatologists warn the number one key to looking after your skin and to avoid any further damage is to stay out of the sun, as skin can be hyper-sensitive – always wear at least SPF50 sunscreen.
With lasers at the forefront of anti-ageing it looks like the face of beauty will continue to change. Just consult a dermatologist for the best option to suit your skin needs.
THE TREATMENT: LASER TO TREAT PSORIASIS
Great for: Mild to moderate psoriasis in localised areas.
The effects: Cosmesurge clinic’s Excimer laser treats single psoriasis lesions with ultraviolet light. Dr Pegha Dehdari, who recently treated psoriasis sufferer Kim Kardashian West in Dubai, says the procedure is for ‘anyone who would like to have a treatment with advanced technology but which is also harmless and has no side effects.’
Sessions required: Results are usually seen after two sessions and complete clearance could be reached between six to 12 sessions. It varies individually and depends also on trigger factors.
To book: Price varies depending on the area that requires treatment. Call 04 344 5915.
THE TREATMENT: FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH BEAUTY
Who is it for? A lasting solution for ageing, pigmentation and large pores.
The effects: This treatment can be done in under an hour. There are no real downsides, but patients are reminded to wear sunscreen afterwards. The multi-tasking treatment combines the benefits of two laser machines, which stimulate collagen production and reduces fine lines. The technique also removes pigmentation – the heat destroys excess melanin without damaging surrounding tissue. It also balances sebum secretion, which helps combat acne, large pores and oily skin.
Sessions required: A minimum of three sessions, and clients should allow a month in between sessions.
To book: From Dh700 at American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital; call 04 423 7600.
THE TREATMENT: CARBON LASER PEELING
Who is it for? Anyone looking for tightening, and to reduce the appearance of acne scarring, uneven skin tone or fine lines.
The effects: The treatment incorporates the use of a q-switched laser on the surface of the skin that has a prior application of a layer of medical carbon cream, which is left for a few minutes to dry out. High-intensity pulses of light (laser) are shot on to the carbon cream-covered skin. The carbon absorbs these intense pulses, creating micro explosions on the epidermal layer. The patient feels a bit of warmth, without any pain. This warmth is the heat released by the carbon, which in turn exfoliates and cleans out the pores through skin resurfacing. Afterwards a high spectrum sunscreen is applied and you can head back to work with glowing skin.
Sessions required: Three to six sessions; clients can repeat every three to four weeks
To book: Dh1,200; call 04 348 5575.
THE TREATMENT: FOTONA 4D FACELIFT
Who is it for? The goal is to restore the skin for more youthful-appearing contours.
The effects: This four-step, painless treatment uses wavelengths that work together. A laser is waved over the inner surface of the cheeks and lips. ‘This is the perfect way to tighten, volumise and restore collagen starting from the inside out, and reduce the depth of the nasolabial and melomental folds [those pesky lines from nose to lips and lips to chin] and boost lip volume without injections,’ says dermatologist Rebecca Teston from Rebecca Teston Aesthetics. In the second step, the laser goes deeper to help correct imperfections and restore youthful texture. Step three raises the temperature for controlled deep tissue heating to tighten and restore collagen and elasticity. Finally the skin surface is treated. Your face can appear rosy afterwards (similar to sunburn) and expect two to four days of mild peeling.
Sessions required: Expect glowing skin immediately, but long-term effects can take a few weeks to be noticed. Clients can require three to six sessions and maintenance visits every three to nine months, depending on lifestyle.
To book: Winter offer: Dh2,500 for one session and Dh6,000 for three sessions at Euromed Clinic;’ call 04 394 5422.