How to find somebody to fix up my skin, via laser or...?
February 5, 2008 4:47 PM   Subscribe

I have a few acne scars, a few broken capillaries...nothing awful, but. I also have a few bucks, and I'd like to get great skin. How do I go about finding somebody to wield a laser (or what?) on me?

How do I figure out what sort of treatment would be the best -- some sort of laser? microdermabrasion? I have no idea; willing to spend up to $1k -- and how do I figure out who to get to do it?

I don't want to pluck a name out of the phone book. The obvious solution -- ask GP for a referral to a good 'vanity dermatologist' -- did not work out (long story, but overall bad impression from office); my GP is a dunce and it's not worth asking her for a better referral.

One local plastic surgeon -n- laser wielder etcetera has a promising-looking web site, but it feels weird just going by that...

I don't know anybody who's had anything similar done, and this isn't NYC where one could reasonably expect to find word-of-mouth referrals by posting somewhere. (I'm in downtown Ottawa, Canada.) I'm also not sure how to evaluate what options exist for prettying up one's face like this, or even how much I should expect to spend. Help!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I had some small broken capillaries fixed by a dermatologist using an electric needle that "zapped" them and it took 2 seconds. The electric pulse cauterizes the capillary so it doesn't get any blood and it disappears off your face in a couple of days. It was under $100 for a regular dematology visit. This was many years ago and they have not returned. What do you want to do with the acne scars? Your dermatologist can go over your options in an initial visit.
posted by 45moore45 at 5:00 PM on February 5, 2008

Spend a bit more and buy a ticket to Thailand and get more done for much less money. Of course you need to research which hospitals are best and which to avoid.
posted by tarvuz at 5:16 PM on February 5, 2008

Plastic surgeon all the way. It's your face, don't go near a dermatologist. As your GP for a reputable plastic surgeon. Dermatologist's *think* they are surgeons, but are not.

FWIW--I get my facials done at a plastic surgeon's office. He has his own nurse practioner and esthetician that does this type of stuff. The NP uses IPL for broken capillaries on the face, hair removal, etc.. I feel comfortable having facials (including microdermabrasion) done there because he makes sure they stick to a *higher standard* of cleaning their equipment and keeping it updated with the latest and greatest, (his name is out there, so to speak). It doesn't hurt that his prices are often cheaper than *spa* facials/microdermabrasion, and I feel much better knowing he stands behind the treatments.
posted by 6:1 at 5:29 PM on February 5, 2008

First, you must go to a dermatologist. They will be able to educate you on the types of treatments that are best for you and your skin. For instance, I have ice pick acne scars and lasers aren't gonna do shit for those (I hold out hope for the future improvements of lasers though). But if you have just discolorations from acne, the lasers will be great. Try to look for someone who specializes in colored skin (if indeed you are not caucasian) as there are different concerns with different skin tones.

For no reason besides personal bias, I'd suggest against going to one of those "health spas" with on the go botox, etc. Go to a "real" doctor who has spent a few years with the various techniques.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 5:33 PM on February 5, 2008

Yes! A question I can answer definitively!

For broken capillaries and discoloration: IPL, or intense pulsed light. On average, about 3 sessions is enough to give you wonderful skin. I had three, for red spots left after acne, and some mild redness. Soon after the third session I saw friends I hadn't seen in six months...all of whom were v. generous with the compliments. I paid $300 x 3 treatments (which I hear is pretty standard).

For indentations/texture, Fraxel is your best bet, hands down. I had a consult with Tina Alster (of Allure, etc. fame) after reading quite a bit about it and plan on going through with it once I stop breaking out. And of course there's the issue of having $1,000 x 5 treatments laying around. The women I have seen who have had it have skin like porcelain.

Both treatments are effective and supported by a LOT of (legitimate) research. Downtime for each is minimal; for IPL I was barely pink for an hour after each treatment and then completely fine. Fraxel is supposed to be slightly worse, but still far better than alternatives (e.g. dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, and heavy duty lasers).

Key things to remember: (a) You'll want to see a full-time dermatologist, and it does NOT have to be a "vanity" dermatologist. (b) Call the office to check to see how long the dermatologist in question has been using the laser. (c) You won't be able to start these treatments with ANY kind of tan on your face so start wearing SPF 24/7 if you aren't already.

Best of luck and please let us know how your treatment goes!

Oh and before I forget--I had microdermabrasion a few years ago, on the recommendation of my usual derm. It irritated my skin to no end. If you have broken capillaries, which I would think suggests you have sensitive skin, I would opt for IPL instead.
posted by pearl228 at 11:48 PM on February 5, 2008 [12 favorites]

I had the electric needle thing (which I suspect is Tesla coil technology) a few years ago. Cost me a 30$ copay for the office visit and did a beautiful job. The pits are another story, but the red spots were easy. This was after I spent years asking the dermatologist every time I went in to have warts harvested about it. The usual answer was, "We charge by the lesion and it's cosmetic so not covered by insurance and you have to pay that day before they do it". The estimates were in the movie star range.
The electric needle thing does not mean a needle touches your face, it means a needle made of electricity. (Disclaimer: I wasn't watching all that close, so my impression may not be quite accurate.) They use a little spark to kill the red tissue. It stings a bit; I just jammed my head against the wall to avoid flinching, and it went very well. Most of the sting is the first second and then it numbs down to quite bearable for the next few seconds, and it's over. It leaves a very shallow area of dead tissue (ok, scab, if you want to get technical about it) and you don't want to disturb that if you can help it, and it falls off in a few days.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 6:24 AM on February 6, 2008

I'm in Ottawa too, anonymous. I'd actually be interested to see what you find. My own googling brought me to this page.

You might also consider going to somewhere like Toronto for a visit with a dermatologist - a colleague of mine here at the office did that. She had the same problem you did, with a GP who thought a referral to a dematologist was only for the most severe of skin problems.
posted by LN at 9:06 AM on February 6, 2008

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