Summary: Laser procedures simultaneously have a good name and a bad name. They offer some of the most revolutionary procedures out there (we’re looking at you laser blepharoplasty), but sometimes the procedures can be more hype than results (we won’t name names). Of course, that doesn’t mean the entire field is not to be trusted—rather, it just means that sometimes the tried and true laser technologies are more reliable than the cutting edge technology that may or may not deliver the best results. When it comes to lasers, it’s best to trust the science, not the sales pitch.

Cosmetic Surgery Sounds Good

It certainly sounds too good to be true: lasers can make your skin look younger. And the recent spate of laser clinic bankruptcies seems to lend credence to our natural caution. Laser can’t possibly make you look younger, you might think. That’s crazy talk. That’s living in the future. Well, it’s good to encourage your inner critic (all great scientists have quite the inner critic). And there are definitely times at which you should be dubious of the potency of lasers. But, as it turns out, lasers actually can make you look younger, as long as you follow two important rules: first, only go to reputable service providers, and second, go in with only realistic expectations.

So, last month American Laser Skincare suddenly declared bankruptcy. They haven’t been the only one. One of the dangers of these types of skincare clinics (sometimes called medical spas) is that there’s less regulation than you find in a cosmetic surgery clinic, so sometimes they’re a little less scrupulous. This isn’t to say every new laser clinic that opens up will be improperly run. Rather, it means that improperly run medical spas have a tendency to fizzle out rather quickly. It’s never a bad idea to check into a clinic to determine just how long they’ve been around, what kind of reviews they’ve received, and what people are saying about the quality of the work.

The Problems Among Laser Cosmetic Surgery Institutions

But just because some institutions have declared bankruptcy doesn’t mean that they are all equally ineffective. Rather, a laser in the hand of a trained professional can do wonders. But even that is kind of a misnomer, only because we used “laser” in a singular fashion. There are many different laser products out there, and selecting the right one for your desired outcome is another way you can ensure you get the results you’re after. So let’s take a look at some of those laser options.

Exilis: Okay, so Exilis isn’t technically a laser system. But it still uses energy, and it’s a system broadly employed in cosmetic surgery clinics all across the United States. This device uses RF waves—radio frequency waves—to penetrate deep beneath your tissues. The radio frequencies target fat cells and help eliminate them, while simultaneously tightening your skin around the targeted area. Sessions generally last between twenty and thirty minutes, and results can typically be achieved in roughly four sessions. There are very few negative side effects, and normal activity can be resumed almost immediately. To be sure, results will be modest, but Exilis is still a noninvasive way to get body contouring results. For example, when it comes to Exilis Michigan-based Accents Cosmetic Surgery is an example of how to do things right.

IPL: Okay, this isn’t a laser either. IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light, and it’s a really great way to remove skin blemishes or even out skin tone. We’re including it as a “laser” because, again, it uses high energy and is often broadly employed in cosmetic surgery clinics across the country. Sometimes called phototherapy (or light therapy), IPL uses these high energy pulses to painlessly and effectively fade dark spots or visible sun damage. The system is generally pretty effective, but there are some patients who are quite resistant to it. It’s also not going to make you look twenty years younger—but it can take care of micro-spider veins or acne, giving you a little boost of confidence—and a bigger smile.

Laser Hair Removal: Now we’re talking. Now we’re at the lasers. Sometimes, our bodies just get too hair, and it’s too much of a pain in the butt to constantly shave or (worse) wax. Especially as we get older, we find that we just don’t have the time for that kind of thing anymore. Laser hair removal offers a safe and effective way to eliminate much of your body hair (or hair wherever you have targeted). A specially tuned laser targets the melanin in your hair follicles, using high heat to destroy the root of the hair. It works best on darker hairs (more melanin) and generally takes three to four sessions to successfully complete the look. This is because hair grows in stages, so only those stages which have grown can be targeted at one time. However, in most cases, the result is a substantially smoother skin, wherever that skin has been targeted.

Lasers and Cosmetic Surgery are Here to Stay

Cosmetic surgery as a general field is always looking for the next big thing—the next thing that will get people through the doors. And that’s both natural and beneficial, as it’s led to some great procedures being developed. But it does mean that some consumers will have to step rather cautiously in order to avoid procedures that have a lot of promise, but little in the way of follow through.

The best way to avoid being one of those patients who is unhappy with his or her procedure is to thoroughly research the doctor and the practice you’ll be going to. Make sure it’s a good fit, and make sure to ask a lot of questions during your consultation. A good cosmetic surgeon won’t mind taking time to answer all of your questions, no matter how silly they might be. And, hopefully, after that, you’ll be looking at some great before and after pictures of your own.

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