Treating Dark Spots With the Power of Light

Photo facials, BBL™, IPL, Forever Young BBL™, photo rejuvenation … what are these treatments, and what are the differences?

The answer is they are all the same treatment, just with a lot of fancy names. We offer BBL photo therapy to treat a variety of skin care concerns at our Anchorage medical spa, FACES. Let’s look at how these treatments work to better understand how they can benefit you.

How It WorksWant to lighten dark spots? Try BBL photo therapy treatments, says skin care specialist Audra McKellar of Anchorage's FACES medical spa.

The basic science behind photo therapy 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. Photo therapy 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.

There are many laser and light devices on the market. In our office, we have Broad Band 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, or hyperpigmentation are all possible.

What the Treatment Is Like

On the day of treatment, the skin is cleaned, a cool ultrasonic gel is applied, and proper eye shields or glasses are worn by the patient and technician. The treatment feels like a hot rubber band snap and is a bit uncomfortable. It is also very bright. There is a sapphire cooling plate connected to the handpiece that helps cool the patient’s skin’ and the technician basically pulses over the treatment area. We also have a machine called a Zimmer that blows very cold air that the patient controls. It keeps them very comfortable.

We can treat almost every area of the body. The most common areas are the face, neck, chest, and hands. A series of 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.

How You Benefit

We are now marketing our photo facials as Forever Young BBL. The only difference between this and traditional BBL is the technique. Basically, we are doing multiple passes over the treatment area with multiple filters (wavelengths) to treat multiple concerns. The goal is to clear up browns (pigment) and reds (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 photo facials, patients’ skin actually looked younger!

The treatment really is awesome! The before-and-after photo on this page of a hand treatment from Sciton shows off what BBL can do, and that is just one of many treatment options.

If you’re interested in light therapy for dark spots, veins, or other forms of hyperpigmentation, contact us for a consultation.

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Meet Our Physicians

Each of our physicians is board-certified in Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, and Dr. Ellerbe is board-certified in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.