For those with darker skin tones, your anxiousness surrounding laser and other medical aesthetic treatments feels well justified. It wasn’t always the case that medical aesthetics companies and clinics began developing technologies that were safe for those with a little more melanin in their skin. Fortunately, in recent years, the industry has introduced new advanced technologies that offer safer alternatives to the old standards, particularly for patients with darker complexions. That means it’s time to leave those old myths behind!
Here, we set the record straight on four of the top medical aesthetics myths we hear that most often dissuade those with darker skin from seeking out treatments or consultations altogether.
Lasers have been used in medicine and medical aesthetics for decades, but their application for hair removal only took hold in the 1990s. At that time, lasers were typically very slow and painful, and they only worked on a specific combination of dark hair and fair, even-toned skin. Today, there are four general types of laser hair removal devices: ruby, alexandrite, Nd:YAG, and diode lasers. While a more complete summary of hair removal for patients with dark skin can be accessed here, diode laser hair removal treatments are generally seen as the safest and most effective modality for treating a wider range of skin types.
At present, diode laser is considered the gold standard in laser hair removal. In fact, in a 2015 comparative study of Nd:YAG and diode lasers, diode laser technology was found to offer the best results for patients with darker skin and hair with a 92% rate of hair reduction after eight sessions. This is because diode lasers use longer wavelengths, enabling them to penetrate deeper into the skin. This allows for melanin in the hair follicles to absorb more of this energy than the melanin in the skin absorbs, zapping and destroying targeted hair follicles but keeping healthy skin intact. In all, diode laser hair removal treatments offer a safe and effective hair removal treatment option for those with darker or even tanned skin.
A common misconception, not all skin resurfacing treatments are unsafe for darker skin. Some skin resurfacing laser treatments do pose a higher risk of discoloration and scarring in African-American, Hispanic, and Asian skin types. However, recent advances in technology now offer safer alternatives for darker-skinned patients. While erbium lasers may be a passable option that lower your risk of experiencing hypopigmentation or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) compared to more traditional laser treatments, radio frequency-based treatments really offer the safest option for most patients.
One such skin resurfacing technology safe for darker skin tones is NanoFractional radio frequency (RF) treatments. These treatments begin by utilizing tiny pins to gently penetrate the skin’s surface, creating tiny micro-dermal wounds and delivering targeted heat energy to kickstart the body’s natural healing cycle. This helps to boost collagen and elastin production while encouraging increased skin cell turnover to repair skin damage and improve the appearance of scarring, stretch marks, rosacea symptoms, enlarged pores, deep-set wrinkles, and more for smoother, healthier-looking skin. While some patients may opt for more invasive treatments for quicker results, NanoFractional RF™ treatments may be the better place to start for their safer results, reasonable price tag, and minimal time commitment.
There are a lot of myths circling around skin tightening treatments. All skin is susceptible to aging but for some, their darker skin tones may show more advanced skin damage as a result of cumulative sun exposure. While it’s long been considered a myth now, it was previously believed that those with darker skin tones didn’t require sunscreen as the higher concentrations of melanin in their skin were considered to offer protection similar to SPF. Of course, popular opinion has changed on this topic, leaving many with darker skin tones wondering what might be done to smoothen and firm loose skin.
Skin tightening treatments utilizing a synergistic combination of Multi-Polar RF and Pulsed Electro Magnetic Fields (PEMF) technologies may be the perfect solution for these patients. Safe for all skin tones, Multi-Polar RF delivers heat deep below the skin’s surface, stimulating fibroblasts for improved collagen production without affecting melanin in the skin. As RF works to boost collagen, PEMF promotes the formation of new blood vessels and induces fibroblast proliferation. In simpler terms, the two technologies work to synergistically improve collagen and elastin levels in the skin for a smoother, firmer appearance with a significantly reduced risk of PIH. In fact, radio frequency has been proven to be safe for all skin types.
There are certainly fewer medical aesthetics professionals who specifically specialize in treating patients with darker skin, but the market is just starting to evolve. As patients learn more about their possibilities and demand grows, the number of providers specializing in aesthetics treatments for patients with darker skin will certainly grow. At present, if you’re unable to find a provider who specializes in the treatment of darker skin, it’s best to opt for a certified treatment provider who has a long track record of delivering results and can substantiate their outcomes with high-quality before-and-after images. If this before-and-after gallery includes past patients who also had darker skin, all the better. One other factor that might go into finding a qualified treatment provider is a track record of positive reviews. Check online review sites to get a feel for how a particular aesthetics clinic treats a variety of patients from different ethnic backgrounds and with varying skin types to get a better idea of what you may expect to see in your own results. Finally, ensure you’re booking your consultation at a clinic that has the right treatment technology for your skin type.
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