Many patients come to Yager Esthetics after seeing an ad or hearing a television report about some type of laser that can magically eliminate stretch marks or scars, or tighten loose skin so you do not need surgery. It sounds almost too good to be true. Unfortunately, it IS too good to be true.
Lasers can do many things in medicine, even cosmetically. Every year, advances really do occur that make them safer and more effective for patients. They are not, however, magic. I hope to demystify lasers for you a bit in this column.
You can cut with a laser as you can cut with a scalpel. Both incisions leave a scar. There is no evidence that laser incisions heal better. In Hispanic skin, I feel the laser is more dangerous, as the heat it generates can cause hyperpigmentation (darkness) in the surrounding skin. Advantage, scalpel.
Lasers do not remove stretch marks. There is as of today no treatment, be it cream or laser or magic wand, that can erase a stretch mark from skin. While early pink ones are easier to fade than old white ones, they do not disappear. Again, in Hispanic skin, the risk is creating stretch marks with dark spots (manchas) around them. The only current way to get rid of stretch marks 100% is to remove the skin that contains them. For example, if your stretch marks are all below the belly button and you have enough skin, you can do an abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck to remove that skin.
Lasers are effective in permanently reducing unwanted hair. Hispanic patients must seek out doctors with a lot of experience treating latin skin to avoid burns, darkness and other complications. The darker your skin, the greater the danger.
Please do not think I am anti laser – they fascinate me, and I have incorporated them in my practice. I will continue to follow the advances, and add them when they are safe and effective for my Hispanic patients.