The internet has truly given the average person access to more information than ever before. We’ve noticed at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta (DAA) that we rarely see patients who haven’t done any type of Googling about their skin concerns or their cosmetic options. The challenge, however, is that the information you see online is not always complete or accurate. As a reliable resource, we’re happy to fill in the gaps for you (in fact, check out our Skin Medics™ Medical Spa, Atlanta Center for Veins, Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research, and DAA Facebook pages for daily updates about skin care news and more). Around this time of year, we often have patients asking about laser skin treatments, saying, “I’ve heard that if you’re going to get laser treatments, it’s best to have them in the fall. Is that true?” Whether you’re considering laser hair removal, laser tattoo removal, laser skin resurfacing, or another of the many available options, yes, fall is actually an ideal time to get started, and here’s why:
Laser skin treatments may be done for a cosmetic purpose, but they’re still true medical procedures that need to be handled with care. While side effects from laser procedures are typically mild and temporary, sun exposure increases them many times over. If you’re exposed to the sun before or after your laser treatment, it increases the likelihood that your skin will develop unwanted dark spots (hyperpigmentation) or light spots (hypopigmentation), and these pigment problems can be very long-lasting. For laser procedures that repair surface damage by exfoliating damage skin cells (like traditional or fractionated laser skin resurfacing), your skin will also be very sensitive to sun damage after your procedure, so you run other risks as well.
To help your laser treatment produce the best possible results with minimal risk of side effects, our providers at DAA (and our advanced laser center, The Laser Institute of Georgia) recommend that patients protect their skin from the sun for 4-6 weeks before and after any laser skin treatment. This means avoiding spending a lot of time outside in the sun, wearing sunscreen daily and reapplying it as instructed, and wearing sun-protective clothing as well as sunscreen when you do go outside. As you can imagine, this can be difficult and inconvenient during the spring and summer when you want to spend your weekends lounging around a pool, enjoying the park, going to barbecues, and otherwise taking advantage of the warm weather. For this reason, the cooler months of fall and winter make it much easier for patients to minimize their risk of side effects from laser procedures.
As we mentioned, both fall and winter are the ideal seasons for laser treatments. In that case, you may ask, why not wait until December or January? While some laser treatments are primarily done as solitary procedures (like the more extensive laser resurfacing options), many laser procedures are actually done in a series. For example, laser hair removal usually produces its best results after about six sessions (though this varies per patient). Because these appointments need to be spaced 4-6 weeks apart, it can take six months or more to complete a laser hair removal cycle. For some patients it can take even longer, depending on their hormones, the resiliency of their hair follicles, their ability to maintain consistent appointments, and other factors. This is why we recommend that patients start their laser treatment series in the fall – because if you start in October, you may be able to finish your treatments by April, which is just in time to be able to enjoy the summer with exciting results, without the added inconvenience of summertime laser precautions.
Laser treatments for skin rejuvenation, skin tightening, tattoo removal, and more are so popular today that they’re really household names, just like Botox® and liposuction. Still, they truly are medical procedures that should only be trusted in the hands of qualified and experienced professionals like our board-certified dermatologists and physician assistants at DAA. Remember, just because a facility or spa offers a procedure doesn’t mean they’re a viably safe and predictable option. At DAA, we’re proud to have The Laser Institute of Georgia, the most experienced laser skin treatment center in the Southeast, and to be a member of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. If you want to take advantage of this fall and get started with your laser treatments, or if you just want to find out if lasers are an option for your cosmetic concerns, schedule a consultation at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta.