Although most people think of wrinkles as being one of the first signs of aging, in actual fact uneven pigmentation in the face is the first sign of aging that most people unconsciously pick up on, and uneven pigmentation can begin to develop during childhood. A smooth, even complexion is often described as “glowing” or “radiant”. Babies and toddlers all have glowing, radiant complexions, but sun exposure over time causes pigmentation to gradually become increasingly more uneven and blotchy. The second sign of aging is the loss of elasticity in the skin, which causes skin to sag and lose its youthful plump, firm look, and also allows wrinkles and fine lines to form. A number of treatments have been proposed to induce the skin to develop a more youthful look, such as chemical peels and laser resurfacing, but these approaches have a fairly lengthy recovery time. The Halo™ laser is a newer approach to resurfacing the skin that has a very short recovery time and almost no downtime, making it an effective wrinkle treatment.
The Halo™ Laser
The Sciton Halo™ laser is the first ever hybrid fractional laser introduced to the market. It delivers both ablative and non-ablative energy to the skin, allowing it to simultaneously remove dark spots, uneven pigmentation, and damaged epidermis while also penetrating beneath the surface of the skin to stimulate the underlying dermis to produce collagen and elastin. Thus, the flaws on the surface of the skin are removed to restore that radiant glow, while the underlying skin layers are activated to restore that full, plump youthful look. A Halo™ wrinkle treatment is a full facial rejuvenation treatment, acting to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, enlarged pores, remove dark sun spots, even out pigmentation, and improve the skin’s tone and texture. While it can help improve the appearance of acne scars and other scars, it is not generally recommended as a specific treatment for scarring or stretch marks. It is also not recommended as a specific treatment for spider veins. If you have these issues, please consult your doctor; it is possible that specific treatments for these issues can be applied in conjunction with a Halo™ wrinkle treatment.
The wrinkle treatment is quite straightforward. A numbing cream is applied to the face and after it takes effect (which takes around 30 minutes) and the eyes are covered to protect them from the laser, the hand-held device is slowly moved across the face until all parts of the face have been fully treated. The numbing cream combined with the cooling technology built into the handpiece makes the wrinkle treatment feel like warmth being applied to the face with occasional prickling sensations. Most recipients report it is uncomfortable but tolerable. Each session usually takes less than 30 minutes. After the wrinkle treatment, the face may feel extremely hot and somewhat uncomfortable for up to an hour; ice packs or a flow of cool air can help during this period of time. Steroids may be prescribed to reduce swelling after aggressive treatments, and a special exfoliating cleanser may be provided to help remove the peeling skin.
After each session, the treated skin needs to be protected from sunlight for 24 hours and patients are encouraged to rest indoors at home. The following day, they can resume their normal activities and apply makeup to the skin, but the skin needs to be carefully protected from sunlight for several weeks. The face may appear to be somewhat swollen for a day or two after the wrinkle treatment. The skin will appear to darken and will begin to peel 24 to 48 hours after the wrinkle treatment and continue to peel for three to four days. The final results are not immediately apparent; the first noticeable change is a more even pigmentation. It will take longer for the skin to develop enough new collagen and elastin to restore a more youthful plump, firm look, with results first beginning to be apparent about three weeks after wrinkle treatment. The improvements will continue for months as the deep layers of the skin respond to the treatment by producing new healthy skin cells. The full effect will only be apparent about six months after treatment, but most people find their complexion is visibly improved immediately after the peeling phase ends on day four post-treatment.
Number of Treatments
Patients can opt to have one or two very aggressive treatments or they can opt to have up to six less aggressive treatments to achieve the same results with a faster recovery time after each session. If opting for a more aggressive approach with fewer sessions, which most patients prefer, some doctors suggest having the wrinkle treatment on a Friday and staying home over the weekend before resuming normal life on Monday. The number and aggressiveness of the treatments depends on the patient’s goals and individual facial characteristics and needs to be discussed with the doctor before proceeding with treatment. Once the initial Halo™ wrinkle treatment series is completed, the results generally last for years. If the skin is carefully protected from sun exposure, it is possible that no additional treatments will ever be necessary. However, some people find that a touch-up Halo™ treatment is required every few years in order to maintain their radiant glowing look.
The Difference Between Halo™ and Other Resurfacing Treatments
Laser resurfacing, chemical peels, and dermabrasion all act to remove the surface layer of the skin, removing uneven pigmentation, wrinkles, minor scars, and dark spots during the process of removing the surface layer. However, unlike Halo™, none of these treatments also reach deep under the skin to stimulate the dermis to produce more collagen and elastin. In addition, laser resurfacing, chemical peels, and dermabrasion can be painful and require a prolonged recovery time. Laser resurfacing generally takes ten to fourteen days for the skin to heal from the procedure, and the skin may be excessively red for up to three months. Patients cannot resume their normal activities until ten days after dermabrasion versus 24 hours after Halo™ wrinkle treatment.
After a deep chemical peel, patients cannot resume normal activities for at least two weeks, and significant swelling and redness often lingers for up to four to six weeks after the treatment. After a Halo™ treatment, once the treated outer skin flakes off over the first four days, the new radiant complexion is already apparent with no swelling or redness, and most patients report that their appearance during the flaking phase is not significantly affected and most resume going to work, going out in public, and generally returning to their regular life during the four-day flaking phase.
The Difference Between Halo™ and Other Laser Treatments
A variety of non-resurfacing laser treatments are also available. These treatments can be used to remove areas of pigmentation such as dark spots and spider veins. Other laser treatments are able to induce the deep underlying dermis to produce collagen to firm and plump the skin, but unlike Halo™ these laser treatments do not act to resurface the outer layer of the skin. In addition, while these various types of laser treatments generally have minimal recovery times, they usually require a lengthy series of treatments to achieve their full results. While these types of treatments are excellent for targeting specific issues, they cannot achieve the full surface and deep facial effect that Halo™ can produce.
Halo™ and People with Naturally Darker Complexions
Unlike some laser treatments, Halo™ can be used on people with naturally darker complexions. Extra precautions during the treatment need to be taken to avoid targeting the natural and desired pigment in the skin, but a skilled doctor can produce excellent results with complexions of a range of colors, from pale to olive to chocolate.
Risks and Adverse Effects of Halo™ Treatment
One of the more pleasant side effects of Halo™ treatment is many people report their occasional pimples completely vanish. In general, Halo™ treatment appears to be very safe. There is a remote possibility of developing changes in facial pigmentation, such as areas of darker or lighter skin, after treatment. In very rare cases, burns can occur, but the low risk of this adverse event can be reduced to close to zero by carefully selecting a skilled doctor to apply the treatment.