A Face Odyssey

San Diego Style


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WITH EVERY passing year, we live in a world more suited to the Jetsons than the Joneses: TV broadcasts on cell phones; cars that parallel park themselves; ticket sales for space travel. The world of beauty is no different. Dermatologists have come ever closer to finding a sci-fi version of the fountain of youth. The laser treatments currently available in San Diego can have you looking younger and healthier. But, dermatologists warn, these high-tech zappers are not one-size-fits-all.

“Everyone reacts differently and requires a different technique for their specific issue,” says Dr. Mitchel Goldman, founder of La Jolla Spa MD. “I have patients who want the same procedure their best friend had because she looks so great; it doesn’t work that way.” He suggests a consultation with a dermatologist to determine which technique is suited for you.

According to Dr. Maurice Sherman, founder of Del Mar Cosmetic Medical Center, two types of lasers are currently available. Ablative lasers remove the epidermis (top layer) of skin and heat the layer beneath, causing the skin to be “wounded,” in a sense. As the new layer of skin heals and collagen is regenerated, it is smoother and more even in tone. This type of laser requires more recovery time, but the results are usually more dramatic. Nonablative lasers don’t heat or remove the epidermis; they penetrate through it, causing little to no recovery time but requiring multiple treatments because each session is less intense.

Here’s what you need to know about four of the most-talked-about laser procedures.

Fraxel
Despite the buzz this new laser has generated, the verdict is still out. Says Goldman, “There are some kinks that need to be worked out. Just because you saw it on TV doesn’t mean it’s a miracle laser.” But if you count yourself among the beauty adventurers, you’ll be happy to know that Fraxel claims to offer the intensity of ablative treatments delivered with the gentleness of nonablative lasers. It produces thousands of tiny but deep microthermal treatment zones in your skin. Best for: acne scars, brown spots and crow’s feet wrinkles.

Affirm
Intrigued by lasers, but worried about the inevitable pain? This may be the option for you. “The system is virtually painless,” says Goldman. “It’s actually the first time we can eliminate the use of topical anesthetics associated with lasers.” The combination of different energy sources allows this laser to aid collagen production, tighten skin and balance your complexion. Quick, painless and serious results? Definitely worth a consultation to see if you’re a good candidate! Best for: skin discoloration, rosacea, scar removal.

Aluma
The science notwithstanding, sometimes it’s the results of these lasers that really inspire the “Wow!” effect. “In our initial clinical study, 85 percent of patients achieved visible improvement,” says Goldman. “Plus, more than 90 percent of patients expressed satisfaction with their outcomes.” Implementing radio frequency energy with a vacuum, the Aluma offers dermal heating without the intense pain or lengthy downtime. Best for: fine lines and sun-damaged skin.

Active FX
Combining the best of both worlds, this ablative (read: three to seven days of recovery time) laser works on the epidermis and beyond, encouraging collagen growth and normalizing an erratic skin tone. Remember that with an ablative laser, the pain is usually more intense and may require downtime while your skin——which will likely be red and have some peeling——heals. Best for: wrinkles, fine lines and frown lines.

OUR EXPERTS’ best advice? Do your homework. “There are too many people who lose money and suffer skin damage because they pop into a mini-mall for a quick treatment by an untrained professional,” Sherman says. “You need to make sure the laser is being administered or supervised by a board-certified dermatologist, not just a medical doctor.”

To find one nearby, search the American Academy of Dermatology’s Web site: aad.org/public/searchderm.html.

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