As the office of an African American dermatologist, we understand the challenges patients with skin of color face. And for this reason, we recommend Aerolase, a gentle laser that addresses multiple concerns with just one tool. We know what you’re thinking: lasers and Black skin don’t mix. But this treatment is different, and at Vibrant Dermatology in Dedham, MA, we’ve witnessed its capabilities for ourselves.
What Does Aerolase Laser Do?
First and foremost, this aesthetic laser delivers a premium patient experience to correct a variety of issues, including skin laxity, rough texture, and uneven tone. It is uniquely gentle, safe, and effective. But what really puts this treatment over the top is our ability to use it on all skin tones and types. Its distinct 650-microsecond technology can treat tanned skin as well as skin of color without pain or complications.
How is this possible? The Aerolase eliminates the need to cool the skin during treatment, allowing us to move quickly and effectively without disrupting your normal melatonin. And its pulse duration is up to 50 times shorter than those of traditional Nd:YAG lasers. These qualities allow the laser to pass through the epidermis so quickly, it doesn’t have time to overheat pigment-producing cells known as epidermal melanocytes.
What All This Means
Essentially, you’re not at risk for pigment changes with this laser. During treatment, its energy is attracted to water, hemoglobin, and melanin within skin tissues. Each of these contributes to signs of aging in the following ways:
- Water is abundant in the skin, but with age, it doesn’t bind as well to hyaluronic acid and leaves skin dry
- Hemoglobin, a molecule that exists inside red blood cells, contributes to vascular lesions like spider veins
- Melanin, the substance that gives skin its color, can produce pigmented lesions with age
As the laser selectively heats these targets without adverse effects, you see clear, healthy skin. Even better, you reach your intended results in fewer treatments – thanks to the blend of gentle yet high-powered laser pulses.
It Really Is Safe
To understand the safety profile of this treatment, you must first understand that each laser emits a different wavelength and corresponding energy. Longer wavelengths usually reach deeper than their shorter counterparts to treat underlying concerns like wrinkles. As a tradeoff, these wavelengths can damage surrounding tissues, which explains why they’re not safe for African American patients.
But the Aerolase is far more sophisticated. Its 1064nm wavelength can treat both superficial and harder-to-reach skin conditions, meaning you no longer have to sacrifice safety for efficiency. This laser is, in fact, powerful enough to treat over 30 different concerns, including:
- Ingrown hairs
How It Works
This laser works on multiple levels depending on the concern you want to address. Let’s start our discussion with total rejuvenation, in which energy from the Aerolase targets water in the dermis. This produces an internal temperature change that instantly pushes the body into healing mode. The chief activity that heals skin is collagen production, and as this protein amplifies, you can expect to see smaller pores, fewer lines, and tighter skin.
Collagen is the original fountain of youth, erasing lines, wrinkles, and sags. When its quantities multiply, you see plumper, fuller tissues reminiscent of days gone by. This protein also helps your skin glow from within, confirming you look as vibrant as you feel.
In treating dark spots and vascular lesions, this laser delivers a focused beam of energy directly to the treatment area. That energy breaks up and eliminates pigment patches that have developed in the skin. But unlike intense pulsed light (IPL), the Aerolase does not damage surrounding tissues. This helps prevent an inflammatory response in the body and also eliminates the potential for burns.
Finally Clearing Away Acne
Acne is one of the most common conditions for which patients, including those with skin of color, seek attention. The culprits across all skin tones seem to be the same, but controversy about specific skin characteristics continues to persist. Specifically, many practitioners still wonder if sebum production is higher in African American patients.
What we do know is patients with skin of color experience post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) with acne. This happens when your body tries to heal breakouts naturally and, in the process, produces an excess of melanin. Dark spots then develop and can only be corrected when the underlying cause of acne is identified and treated.
Finding the Source of the Problem
In other words, as the office of a Black dermatologist, we know it’s not enough to treat acne at the surface. Into this scene comes the Aerolase, which eliminates in one fell swoop multiple major causes of acne, including:
- Excess sebum (oil) production
- P. acnes bacteria
This single laser successfully achieves the results of multiple therapies. It’s also more effective than medications and topical ointments that can take weeks or months to produce results. And keep in mind the laser’s thermal energy also builds collagen to reduce acne scars and correct PIH. Many patients see results after just one session, and we can treat the face, neck, and chest to fully rejuvenate your appearance.
The Benefits of Treatment
Sessions with this laser are quick. Depending on the size of the treatment area, we may need just 10 minutes. Only rarely does treatment exceed 45 minutes, meaning we’re able to get you out of the office quickly and efficiently.
Treatment is also pain-free, something of a novelty where lasers are concerned. It’s true these devices deliver astounding results, but they can also pinch and heat the skin to uncomfortable levels. The Aerolase moves as soon as each flash hits your face, eliminating any possibility of heat, pain, or discomfort. Although protective eyewear is required, a topical anesthetic usually is not necessary.
Flexible to Meet Your Schedule
We generally recommend patients who use this treatment for anti-aging come back every four weeks. But some patients stretch this to every other month or even seasonally. You can therefore exercise some choice in how you fit this treatment into your routine.
In treating acne, the opportunity for flexibility isn’t quite as great. This is because acne can re-flare until it’s completely destroyed. Your treatment plan will ultimately depend on the severity of your condition and, again, the size of the treatment spot. We may, for instance, recommend one patient come in every one to two weeks for four to six treatments, while another may need to come in every two to four weeks. We’ll discuss this more during your consultation.
Great Alternative to Fillers
Dermal fillers provide fantastic results, smoothing away wrinkles and plumping targeted areas. But we understand they’re not right for everyone. For these people, laser provides a great alternative with similar results; skin looks more youthful, fuller, and softer. These effects are also completely natural, thanks to renewed collagen synthesis., so you can rely on predictable results.
In this same vein, the laser is applied to your entire face. We treat one section at a time to ensure consistency. Following this pattern allows us to retain your natural face symmetry while showcasing your best features; you’ll still look like you, but more refreshed and more refined.
Caring for Skin After Treatment
Many people believe that having darker skin protects you from sun damage. While it’s true melanin does provide a level of defense, it’s still very possible for patients with skin of color to experience sunburn. And UV rays rapidly degrade collagen levels in all patients, regardless of skin tone. One of the best things you can do for your skin, therefore, is staying out of the sun – especially following treatment with laser. You should also:
- Apply sunscreen every day
- Wear a hat when going outside
- Choose shaded spots if you’re spending time outdoors
Use a Gentle Cleanser
As a skin of color dermatologist, we understand African American patients have special skincare needs. For instance, it’s important you wash with a gentle, non-soap cleanser that lifts away dirt and oil without stripping your skin.
Some people wrongly believe Black skin does not need to be washed, but this is a myth. In reality, you need a consistent routine – wash once in the morning and again at night – using your fingertips and small, circular motions. The days and weeks after laser treatment require you to be especially gentle. If you need help choosing the right cleanser for you, ask our office for recommendations.
Keep Skin Moisturized
The best moisturizer is one that hydrates skin and simultaneously forms a protective barrier. Sometimes, African American patients are encouraged to use petroleum jelly on their skin, but this can clog pores and promote acne breakouts. Better options are moisturizers that contain ingredients like:
- Rose essential oil
- Mango butter
- Shea butter
- Jojoba oil
- Hyaluronic acid
Even if your skin falls on the spectrum of oily, it’s important you moisturize. After laser treatment, this step will help you heal more quickly and protect your skin from extreme weather conditions. The same is true of water, both in your products and internally; it’s the driving force behind well-hydrated, moisturized skin. We recommend you drink more water to keep your skin silky smooth.
Avoid Strong Ingredients
When your skin is recovering from professional treatment, harsh or abrasive ingredients can do more harm than good. This includes those in your daily cosmetics; avoid using them for a few days after your laser session. Doing so can also provide the perfect opportunity for your skin to breathe freely and fully.
Enjoy a Balanced Diet
You likely know this, but what you put into your body is just as important as what you put on it. After laser treatment, you can help extend your results by eating a nourishing, balanced diet. The right food choices can also relieve flaking, acne, and eczema. We recommend you reach for:
- Healthy fats, including olive oil
- Lean protein sources, such as tofu, legumes, eggs, and fish
- Whole grains
- Fruits and vegetables
A Laser for You
Up until now, lasers have been off the table for African American patients hoping to correct common skin concerns. The Aerolase has completely changed this landscape, providing yet another option for patients with skin of color. Safely and effectively, it smooths wrinkles, erases acne, and addresses hyperpigmentation. Schedule your consultation today by calling Vibrant Dermatology in Dedham, MA.