Over the last few weeks in an effort to feel more rejuvenated I have experienced reflexology, acupuncture and chiropractic at the Da Vinci Centre. All these sessions left me feeling energised both mentally and physically. The aim of the Da Vinci Centre is to give people the opportunity to maintain optimum health and prevent the conditions which lead to ageing both inside and out. We are living in a time when it is now possible to look younger than your chronological age without going under the surgeon’s knife. Lasers have been around for many years but in terms of skin aesthetics, the technology is constantly improving. The versatility, good, lasting results and the lack of recovery down time have placed lasers at the forefront of cosmetic non invasive surgery techniques.
Traci McElroy has just joined the team at the Da Vinci Centre as a medical aesthetician and laser technician. In terms of knowledge and experience in the use of laser therapy aesthetically, McElroy is top of her field. She has been using lasers for over 10 years and she is also the president of Medical Laser Training Services, a US company that instructs in their use.
What makes a laser so effective compared to other form of light therapy such as intense pulse light treatment, is that lasers have one focussed wave length , which cannot be bent or altered, giving a greater depth of penetration compared to other systems such as IPL which is a broad spectrum white light and gives a splattering of wavelengths.
The wonders of laser
The uses of laser are varied and promise remarkable results. When I meet her at Da Vinci centre McElroy lists some of them. “Over a few sessions it can remove hair, pigmented lesions and sun damage, it decreases pores, minimises acne, it helps to minimise red veins and brown spots, tightens skin and builds collagen.”
When she asks what I would like to change about my skin, my response is “all of the above please”!
She mentioned spider veins, which I have because of my fine Celtic skin and exposure to the elements from times spent walking on wild hillsides in Scotland.
McElroy says she can minimise them using a Yag laser. Typically she does this in either 15 or 30 minute sessions. “For facial vessels you do need one to three treatments because you can’t compress them as in leg veins; 50 per cent will refill and come back. I want to be clear about that so that people will not be disappointed.”
The other treatment she says which would be very effective is skin tightening, which works by building up collagen. “People are amazed by the results; you can turn the clock back ten years.”
McElroy says the key to the skin tightening is the right number of treatments; five sessions spaced two weeks apart is the ideal. The results can last years. I ask her about side effects of laser usage, I have read about loss of pigmentation, but she says that this should not happen and if it does, is a result of using the wrong type of laser on the wrong type of skin.
“With the Yag laser and photo rejuvenation I can’t do anyone who is darker than a Fitzpatrick skin type 4 (a classification table that help predict the effectiveness of skin resurfacing). I cannot do anyone who is freshly tanned and I cannot do anyone who has had recent sun exposure .”
I fill in a detailed consent form and am taken into the treatment room where an anaesthetic gel is applied. McElroy changes the heads on the lasers according to what procedure she is doing.
After 15 minutes there is a feeling of numbness and she begins the session. I am given glasses to protect my eyes. Initially I do not feel anything as there is a cooling jet of gas blown with each laser shot to cool down the skin.
Around the nose I start to feel it more, it is hard to describe but it is like a sharp, slightly snapping sensation. McElroy explains it is always felt more around the nose area because there are more nerve endings there.
When she finishes she explains that I might experience slight swelling but just to apply something cold to my face.
There is to be no sun exposure for at least 48 hours and I need to apply a sunscreen of 30 or upwards. The treatment has left me looking slightly red and my skin feels hot later that evening but I apply a cold compresses and next morning my skin is back to normal. I am not totally clear of thread veins, as McElroy predicted, but my skin is certainly fresher and clearer looking.
Fitzpatrick classes of skin photo types are as follows:
Always burns, never tans
Light-eyed, fair-skinned northern European persons
Always burns, sometimes tans
Fair-skinned European persons
Sometimes burns, always tans
Mediterranean origin (eg, Spanish, Italian, or Greek persons)
Never burns, always tans
Hispanic and Asian persons
Darkly pigmented skin
Hispanic and Asian persons
Darkly pigmented African and southern Indian persons