Sure, Kim Kardashian West and Christie Brinkley have great genes, but they also have great dermatologists. Both have admitted to using laser treatments to keep their skin looking beautiful, but there are quite a few to choose from — what’s the difference between a Fraxel and an IPL, or Clear and Brilliant versus Trivantage?
YouTube reviews just weren’t giving us solid answers, so we turned to celebrity dermatologist Dr. Michele Green, who provided this cheat sheet of the most popular laser and pulsed light treatments.
Dr. Green says the first order of business is to be sure any laser or pulsed light treatment is performed by a well-trained physician — an untrained provider can cause serious, and even permanent damage.
“Get the procedure from a board-certified doctor with a knowledge of skin — only from physicians in the field,” she tells People. “Make sure this is what they’ve been doing for a long time, not that they just took a weekend class and you’re their first person. But when in the right hands, lasers are great for the skin.”
Kim Kardashian told Oprah she likes Fraxel laser treatments, and Dr. Green confirms they can help with sun damage, fine lines and dullness.
“If you have a lot of sun damage, you might need two Fraxels, or you might need three Fraxels,” Dr. Green, who is based in New York City, says. A Fraxel, the laser’s brand name, treats a fraction of the skin, instead of the entire surface, and so lessens the recovery time to around five days.
“It’s two days where you’re red and two to three days where you’re peeling, but the results are dramatic,” she says. Removing a portion of the epithelium (the outer layer) of the skin encourages collagen production.
Dr. Green, who charges $1,500 per session, says the procedure doesn’t hurt because she applies a numbing cream 30 minutes beforehand. She also notes that patients should stay completely out of the sun after the procedure, so she doesn’t perform it at all in the summer months.
Clear and Brilliant
Christie Brinkley favors Clear and Brilliant laser treatments. “I grew up in Malibu, then my real job of modeling took me to beaches all over the world and under the sun. I really am aware of all the sun exposure I’ve had in my life and I’m interested in things that they can do to [reverse the sun’s effects],” the 62-year-old told People.
“Clear and Brilliant is like a mini Fraxel. It takes five sessions to get the effect of one Fraxel,” Dr. Green, who does not treat Brinkley, says. “But the good thing about it is that there’s no downtime.”
She explains that, like a Fraxel, the Clear and Brilliant laser makes microscopic holes in the skin through heat. “The skin has a microscopic injury, and so it regenerates and makes new collagen. But it’s very, very light with the Clear and Brilliant. You won’t even know that it’s happening apart from a minor sensation.”
Dr. Green also uses the numbing gel for the Clear and Brilliant treatment, so it’s painless; afterwards the skin is a bit red for about an hour. But you can get away with going to an event a couple of hours afterwards and you can definitely go to work the next day. The downside is the number of treatments needed, at $500 a pop.
“IPL works in a similar way except it’s not a laser — it’s intense pulsed light, so it’s a photofacial,” Dr Green says. Pulsed light uses short blasts of a poly-chromatic, high-intensity light to penetrate just below the skin’s surface. It’s non-invasive so there’s no downtime and it takes about three to six treatments at $600-800 each.
IPL isn’t Dr. Green’s first choice, she says, because “if you have a little pigment to your skin, even if you look very light, you could get hyperpigmentation [from the IPL]. We’ve had to treat a lot of patients who have had that — I wouldn’t recommend it for people with darker skin.”
V-beam and Trivantage
If you’ve got broken capillaries and persistent redness on your face, the V-Beam laser can target and eliminate the problem. “There’s no downtime, it’s pulsed light that targets anything red. The laser can target different colors — blue, black, green, red — they’re different wavelengths,” Dr. Green explains. It’s $800 per treatment and takes four to six sessions that should be spaced monthly. The number of sessions depends on the degree of redness.
But if sun spots are your main complaint, the Trivantage laser can remove them from the arms, legs, chest or face. It’s $1,000 per treatment or more depending on the amount of spots, and it can take one or two sessions to remove a dark spot. “Plus, you can use it if you use Botox or Retinol,” she says. “It’s also very appealing because there’s no downtime. You don’t go back to work and have someone say, ‘Oh, what did you do?’ Just, ‘You look great. ‘ “
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