We’re all about clean beauty here at The Chalkboard. That said, there are actually plenty of safe options at the medical spa and plastic surgeon’s office that don’t involve implants or injections, as long as you know what you’re looking for.
I won’t dig into the nuances of that topic in full here, but one thing I feel confident in covering for our readers is the ever-popular laser facial. According to the nurse practitioner at my recent appointment, some lasers aren’t just effective aesthetically, but offer preventative wellness benefits too.
When it comes to laser treatments, the full range of options can be totally overwhelming. Add to that a pretty significant cost, the potential recovery time, and the fear of misjudging one’s own pain tolerance, and the whole situation can become too much — especially for those of us who are clean, natural or safe beauty-focused in the first place!
My Laser Facial Experience
Last month, I saw nurse practitioner Laura Fischer, MSN, FNP-C, at plastic surgeon Dr. Paul Nassif’s office here in Beverly Hills. Laura and I went through a breakdown of each and every laser offering from Sciton, who doesn’t make every laser treatment available out there, but many of the most popular ones.
After a brief, but thorough intake, Fischer landed on a combination of MOXI and BBL Hero lasers for me to fight uneven skin tone and pigmentation, fight fine lines, reduce any red vessels and improve overall glow. (Yes, you can stack laser treatments, more on that below!) Sadly, I wasn’t able to trial every single one of the lasers we list below for firsthand feedback, but Laura’s notes come from a ton of firsthand experience with some of LA’s most discerning clients.
Once Laura gave me a very thorough numbing cream, the treatment itself took less than fifteen minutes and I found it to be painless. The results from the BBL Hero (addressing pigmentation and any red vessels or spots) were instant — meaning some tiny freckles, sun spots and broken blood vessels vanished at the touch of the laser.
The MOXI treatment made my skin rough like fine sandpaper, but not uncomfortable, over the next week. I stayed home for the two days just after my treatment to reduce sun exposure and let my red face heal — Laura noted that in medical terms, “down time” doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be office or party-ready the next day, expect some redness and/or peeling. My skin peeled very lightly to reveal an impressive “after” effect that felt final after about two weeks. I used a few gentle products in recovery and you’d better believe we’re bringing a recovery beauty story to you next!
It’s hard to gauge changes in my own skin, but some of those (well earned!) sun spots have dramatically and completely disappeared. I’m slowly noticing wrinkles that are of less depth that I didn’t really accept as being there in the first place — such is aging!
Both MOXI and BBL Hero are recommended in a series of three or so treatments, and many of Laura’s clients do them regularly over time. I would be fascinated to continue my journey and see just how glassy my skin could get after two or more rounds! Note that a laser series can get pricey depending on your skincare budget, which you’ll see in the breakdown from Laura below. Laura also notes that laser treatments must be paired with smart skincare too! Meticulous sunscreen use and a good cocktail of vitamin C, retinol, and other skincare power players complete the picture.
The incredible news is that TCM readers get 20% off up to 2 laser treatments with Dr. Paul Nassif’s team in Los Angeles. Use code GlowingSkin when you book your initial appointments now through September 15, 2023.
Here’s everything you should know about the five most popular laser treatments at Dr. Nassif’s office…
MOXI Laser Treatment – Melasma + Skin Texture
Who it’s for: MOXI is for everyone! It is safe to be used on all skin types. MOXI is a nonablative laser that targets pigmentation, superficial texture concerns, and early signs of skin aging.
Best at addressing: Pore size, fine lines, skin texture, pigmentation, and melasma. Moxi is the hands down the best laser option for melasma. I also highly recommend melasma patients being on a topical regimen of pigment suppressing products. One of my favorite pigment creams is Skin Medica Even and Correct. It is safe to use all year and even with sun exposure.
Discomfort/pain level: There is minimal discomfort during MOXI treatments as we use numbing cream with higher MOXI settings. The treatment area will feel very warm like a sunburn for about an hour after procedure. Most patients rate it a 2-5 out of 10.
Number of treatments recommended: I usually recommended a MOXI treatment once monthly for 2-4 sessions, but results are often visible after just the first treatment.
Downtime: Downtime is a very subjective topic, depending on what the patient feels is their level of tolerance. With MOXI, there is technically no downtime as patients can go back to regular life immediately after the treatment, however, sweating and intense exercise is not recommended same day. Some patients do experience swelling and the skin can look red for several hours to a day or two after procedure, depending on skin tone and settings used. Mild swelling can happen for about 24 hours. Sunscreen and makeup can be applied same day if desired. Skin will feel dry and sandy for about 5-7 days prior to skin exfoliating off to show fresh smooth baby skin.
Price range: One MOXI face treatment averages ~ $600-850.
BBL Hero Laser Treatment – Redness + Sun Damage
Who it’s for: BBL Hero is best suited for skin types 1-3 (lighter skin tones) that have concerns with brown pigment, redness, and aging concerns. People must avoid sun exposure for 2-3 weeks before and after as it targets the pigmentation in the skin.
Best at addressing: BBL Hero is best at addressing sun damage, rosacea, broken capillaries, and anti-aging concerns. BBL has been shown to literally delay and reverse skin aging on a cellular level, causing skin to look and function as healthier, more youthful skin
Discomfort/pain level: BBL Hero can feel warm like a mild sunburn and this depends on skin type and settings used during treatment. Topical numbing cream can be used to make this treatment completely comfortable.
Number of treatments recommended: Once monthly for 3-5 sessions, depending on specific concerns. For maintenance and to delay skin aging it is recommended to treat 2-3 times year.
Downtime: Again, downtime is a very subjective topic, depending on what the patient feels is their level of tolerance. BBL Hero does not have any technical downtime but sweating and intense exercise is not recommended same day. BBL Hero does not break the skin, so skincare, sunscreen and makeup can be applied same day post-treatment if desired. When treating pigmentation, the brown spots will look darker for about a week prior to flaking and lightening. Mild swelling can be visible for about 24 hours.
Price range: Average BBL Hero price range ~ $500-750 per session depending on area.
HALO Laser Treatment – Deep Wrinkles + Pigmentation
Who it’s for: The HALO laser is best for those wanting to address more intense skin texture concerns without excessive or prolonged downtime. HALO is hybrid fractionated laser, meaning it uses both nonablative energy and ablative energy to target numerous skin concerns at the same time. HALO targets pigmentation, deep texture concerns such as deep wrinkles, volume loss, and acne scars. HALO can also help firm loose skin and help improve redness as well.
Best at addressing: HALO is best at addressing wrinkles, enlarged pores, and deep pigmentation.
Discomfort/pain level: Moderate discomfort during treatment and for 1.5 hours after. Topical numbing cream is used and oral agents can be added for maximum comfort if needed.
Number of treatments recommended: This depends on goals of the patient. Usually, 1 HALO every year will be good for anti-aging for younger patients. Older patients, or those with deep texture concerns, should do two treatments within a 3-month period for best results.
Downtime: Redness and swelling is expected for 2-3 days after HALO. Sandpaper skin texture will last about 7-10 days, depending on the patient.
Price range: Price range ~ $1,000-1,400 depending on area.
Profractional Laser Treatment – Scarring + Deep Texture Issues
Who it’s for: Profractional is best for patients wanting to address deep texture issues that are open to potentially a longer downtime.
Best at addressing: Deeper texture concerns, acne scarring, deep wrinkles, and loose under eye skin.
Discomfort/pain level: Moderate to high pain level, depending on numbing agents used.
Number of treatments recommended: Depends on the intensity of the treatment and specific goals of the patient. 1-2 can deliver a significant improvement for most concerns, but deeper issues such as severe acne scarring can require 4 sessions.
Downtime: This varies quite a lot depending on the settings used. 1-2 weeks at minimum which is one of the reasons why we use this laser often along with surgery to take advantage of downtime.
Price range: Varies widely.
ClearV Laser Treatment – Vascular Concerns
Who it’s for: Anyone struggling with vascular skin concerns. ClearV is appropriate for all skin types (Fitzpatrick I – VI). ClearV delivers targeted and precise laser energy to gently eliminate vascular structures, which become less noticeable over time.
Best at addressing: ClearV treats visible vessels, broken capillaries, spider veins, vascular lesions, skin discoloration, rosacea, and more.
Discomfort/pain level: Very little pain level. No numbing agent is required.
Number of treatments recommended: Varies depending on size or depth of vascular concerns.
Downtime: Patients have no downtime and may resume daily activities immediately following treatment. Patient responses to the treatment may vary. Redness and swelling around the treated vessels are usually noticeable within a few minutes and typically have a “cat scratch” appearance.
Price range: Varies on treatment size.
Can two or more lasers be used together in one treatment?
Absolutely. This is called “stacking” treatments or “Sciton Stax” This allows numerous concerns to be addressed at the same time, giving a more comprehensive treatment without much additional downtime.
It is important to limit the use of irritating products for a few days pre-treatment and a few days post-treatment, while healing, including retinoid use and irritating acids or peels. Also, it is important to note that post-procedure products are vital to the healing of skin after laser treatments. Chemical sunscreens and products with fragrance can be very irritating post procedure. It is most important to limit active sun exposure before and after the procedure.
Ready to give one of these laser treatments a try for yourself? Now through September 15, 2023, TCM readers get 20% off up to 2 laser treatments when they use code GlowingSkin with Dr. Paul Nassif’s team in Los Angeles.