Safety Of Laser Treatments
Before we discuss the safety of lasers, it is very important to understand what lasers are and how they function.
Lasers are frequently used in aesthetics, cosmetic procedures, dental treatments, hair restoration, and a whole host of other applications for cosmetic and non-cosmetic procedures. Below we will cover the technical side of lasers, their safety, and the spectrum in which lasers are categorized for the modifications that can be achieved to enhance skin, hair, and nails.
What is LIGHT
Firstly, the term LASER is an acronym:
L – Light A – Amplification by S – Stimulated E – Emission of R – Radiation
So laser energy is a specific form of light that is transmitted to the skin . . . The next question you may have is, What is LIGHT actually?
Well, light is a small fragment of a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum of light. We are particularly discussing the utility of laser light used in aesthetic medicine. Visible light is in the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (390 to 760 nm). Other forms of visible light include some infrared light wavelengths and the sun’s natural source of light, which falls under the ultraviolet wavelengths. The human eye is capable of seeing only a small fraction of the wide range of wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum.
What Is The Electromagnetic Spectrum?
The frequency length of wavelengths enumerates the electromagnetic radiation spectrum, from shortest to longest. The depth of penetration and how the body absorbs the light is consistent to the wave “length” and the “colour” that the human eye depicts. The changes in wavelengths result in the changing colours that we see. Light reflects off of objects and is absorbed by the wavelength specific to the object to produce the colour that we see. For example, a green leaf absorbs only the visible light spectrum under the green wavelengths, thus reflecting it back to the retina in the eye to produce what we visually see as a green-coloured leaf.
Which Wavelengths Are Dangerous?
Whether a wavelength is harmful or not is scientifically referred to the ionizing or non-ionizing properties of the electromagnetic radiation’s ability to ionize atoms or molecules. (Ionize = the removal of an electron from an atom or molecule.)
X-rays’ wavelengths range from .001 to 10 nm. Because these waves are very small (smaller than an atom), they can penetrate through most materials, including the human body. Unprotected exposure to x-rays can cause blindness, cancer, and other potential cellular damage.
Ultraviolet light (UV)
UV rays range from 10 to 350 nm (colours of the rainbow spectrum). UV rays come in the form of UVA and UVB rays. Sunlight delivers UV rays to the earth, and as we all know, overexposure can lead to retinal damage, sunburns, skin cancer, and photoaging in the skin. Sun protection from UV rays is essential in maintaining skin health in a person’s lifetime. It also plays a huge role in preventing the signs of aging.
Gamma rays have even shorter wavelengths than x-rays and can penetrate even further than x-rays. Gamma rays are frequently used by food manufacturers to kill bacteria, mould, germs, and parasites. For protection, lead shielding is mandatory in a facility that uses these rays.
Microwaves do not ionize with wavelengths between 1 mm and 1m, positioning them between radio and infrared waves on the electromagnetic spectrum. Microwave radiation targets water molecules to heat food and do not cause harm to the exposed food.
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Where Are Aesthetic Lasers In The Electromagnetic Spectrum?
Most aesthetic lasers are infrared lasers that are non-ionizing. The aesthetic lasers that are commonly used for cosmetic purposes are:
Nd:YAG 1064 nm
Nd:YAG is a solid-state laser based on neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) crystals. Nd:YAG lasers can be applied in Q-switched mode, which is when 2 wavelengths 1064 nm and 532 nm wavelengths are emitted to targeted superficial skin lesions with short pulses of intense powered beams.
Er:YAG 2940 nm
Er or erbium lasers are in the same family of YAG lasers with emission wavelengths of 2940 nm. The water molecules absorb the erbium laser and serve multifaceted purposes in medical applications such as laser resurfacing, acne scar removal, the coagulation of acne lesions, and the removal of melasma in the skin. Er lasers are also a standard tool used in dental and bone surgery applications because of its ability to precisely cut through bone and soft tissue. Erbium YAG lasers are effective in ablating the skin to remove surface irregularities, removing viral infections like warts and fungal infections in the nails.
CO2 10600 μm
CO2 is a carbon dioxide laser developed in 1964. To this day, it is still one of the most useful lasers with the highest-power continuous wave laser of 9.4 to 10.6 micrometers (μm). Although CO2 lasers are power lasers, they are still in the infrared category of lasers, making them safe with appropriate protection. Furthermore, they do not contain any ionizing properties when used for dermal vaporization to stimulate collagen formation. CO2 frequencies are also absorbed by the water molecules in the body, yielding high efficacy rates for precise cutting in diverse categories of surgical constituencies
Over the course of many decades, aesthetic lasers have been heavily researched and developed by organizations and agencies that regulate the safety and availability of laser technology to consumers. People who undergo laser treatments at a reputable clinic should have the upmost confidence in their service provider to safely deliver their laser procedures by a qualified laser technician, thereby achieving the desired reaction in the treatment sites. Laser treatments are most effective when incorporated in a treatment program with calculated intervals to achieve optimal benefits in the results that the laser can achieve.
If you are considering non-surgical options with laser technology, contact our office to schedule your consultation with one of our certified, highly knowledgeable laser technicians and skin specialists to see which laser treatments would be most favorable to your anti-aging goals.
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