Photofacials, BBL®, IPL, Forever Young™ BBL, photorejuvenation … what are these treatments, and what are their differences? The answer is they are all basically the same type of treatment, just with a lot of fancy acronyms and a few slight differences. We offer BBL phototherapy to treat many different skin concerns at our medical spa in Anchorage, FACES. Let’s look at how these treatments work to better understand how they can benefit you.
The basic science behind phototherapy is using pulsed light to destroy a certain target or “chromophore.” We can target melanin (dark spots), oxyhemoglobin (vessels), or hair follicles. We use different wavelengths of light to reach these targets and destroy them. Phototherapy is not a laser but a light device. Lasers have one wavelength while IPL or BBL have multiple—that is why we can treat many concerns at once. (You can see a comparison of IPL vs. BBL in a related blog post.)
There are many laser and light devices on the market. In our office, we have BroadBand Light made by Sciton®. The treatment works best on lighter skin tones. Asian skin is the darkest I feel comfortable treating with BBL. The light system must be able to tell the difference between dark spots and skin color. If they are too similar, then a burn, blister, and hyperpigmentation are all possible.
What is the treatment like? Does BBL face treatment hurt?
On the day of treatment, the skin is cleansed and a cool ultrasonic gel is applied. The treatment is very bright, so both the patient and the technician wear proper eye shields or glasses.
The technician uses the device to basically pulse over the treatment area. Most people describe that the treatment feels like a hot rubber band snapping against the skin. It is a bit uncomfortable, but we take several steps to make the procedure as comfortable as possible. A sapphire cooling plate connected to the handpiece helps cool the patient’s skin. The patient also controls our Zimmer cryo machine that blows very cold air onto the treatment area for more comfort. Read more about the treatment and what to expect during recovery on the American Society for Plastic Surgeons’ website.
What does BroadBand Light therapy treat?
We can treat almost every area of the body with the BBL device. The most common treatment areas are the face, neck, chest, and hands. The BBL device is also used for laser hair removal at our Anchorage med spa.
For skin rejuvenation, a series of BBL treatments is recommended; 3 to 6 treatments are usually sufficient, and they are done every 3 to 5 weeks. It is not recommended to have sun exposure or use a self-tanning cream 4 to 6 weeks before receiving a treatment.
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Does Forever Young BBL tighten the skin?
We are now marketing our photofacials as Forever Young BBL. The only difference between this and traditional BBL is the technique. Basically, we are doing several passes over the treatment area with multiple filters (wavelengths) to treat multiple concerns. The goal is to clear up brown spots (pigment) and redness (vessels) and rejuvenate the skin with light energy all in one treatment. The heat from the treatment helps boost collagen and elastin fibers, thus creating an anti-aging effect. Sciton conducted a study and found that over 10 years of only having photofacials, patients’ skin actually looked younger!
The treatment really is awesome! The before-and-after photos on this page show off what BBL can do, from rejuvenating the backs of the hands to reducing redness and minimizing brown spots.