Delivering results with faster treatment times and a comfortable experience is really all any patient is asking for when they enter your clinic. They are counting on your expertise and knowledge of your device and technology for a comfortable, customized treatment plan that fits their unique skin type and aesthetic goals. To achieve just that, it’s imperative that you and your staff understand the basic parameters of laser therapies and how each may be manipulated for safer, faster, and more comfortable treatment sessions that don’t compromise on results.
Get started by reviewing the following four parameters to consider with each laser treatment session: wavelength, power and spot size, pulse duration, and cooling.
Wavelength is linked to the target chromophore and whether the aim is to create absorption or a scattering effect as the laser light energy penetrates the dermis. Target chromophores depend on the treatment, but in most medical aesthetic treatments, melanin is by far and above the main target chromophore. For targeted treatments, the absorption effect is desired as less energy is required to heat the targeted tissue and achieve optimal effects. These two factors then need to be converted into a measurement to able to make any sort of adjustment or determination on the how the laser energy should be delivered. That measurement is wavelength.
Generally speaking, the shorter the wavelength (200-800 nm), the shallower the effects, and the longer the wavelength (800-1200 nm), the deeper the energy penetration. Applying this to treatments, a wavelength that falls on the shorter end may be adequate for laser hair removal, as the light energy does not need to penetrate so deeply into the skin, whereas a longer wavelength may be ideal for dark spots or discoloration that lies deeper in the dermis. For the treatment of darker skin types and the prevention of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), a device with adjustable wavelengths may offer more freedom to customize parameters for a safer treatment.
Power and Spot Size
Power and spot size are two parameters that work together to determine the device’s power density. Essentially, this measurement helps us understand the amount of energy and heat delivered to the targeted area. An easy way to consider this parameter may be to think of a magnifying glass on a sunny day. Using a magnifying glass to harness the thermal energy of the sun’s UV rays can funnel this energy and create a focused heating effect, sparking a grass fire, for instance. A similar principle applies to laser aesthetic devices: power determines the amount of energy delivered through a determined spot size, where photons are funneled into a concentrated area, causing the target tissue temperature to rise and the aesthetic treatment to take effect.
Spot size may also be linked to penetration depth. A smaller spot size can lead to a greater scattering of energy, meaning less is absorbed by the target tissue. Smaller spot sizes may then be best for more superficial treatments, while larger spot sizes may be ideal for targeting the deeper dermis. As a general rule of thumb, note that when spot size (density) is decreased by half, the amount of energy (power) must be doubled to have the same effect at the same treatment depth and vice versa. Having said that, wavelength has more of an effect on penetration depth than power and density, so that may be your primary target. Power and density, instead, may better help to improve treatment times by increasing accuracy in energy delivery and power.
Pulse Duration or Width
Pulse duration, which is also frequently called pulse width, refers to the time a device takes to deliver energy to the treatment area or the time in which the targeted tissue is exposed to the laser energy. Thermal relaxation time (TRT) is a main determining factor for pulse duration. TRT refers to the amount of time it takes for targeted tissue to release more than 50% of the heat delivered with each pulse. Because energy is transferred to thermal heat when it penetrates the epidermis, the temperature of targeted tissue rises with each energy pulse. As energy disperses, tissue cools, though some heat is retained. To create the desired effect needed to adequately treat tissue, the energy needs to be retained in the targeted tissue, rather than letting it all be dispersed into the surrounding tissue. To do so, pulse duration must be faster than TRT. For larger areas, longer pulse durations are needed to adequately heat the increase in target tissue. For smaller areas, a shorter pulse duration will deliver the same effect.
Pulse duration is also a key measurement for aesthetic providers looking to treat a wider range of skin tones. A longer pulse duration can allow for greater efficacy and safety while improving treatment time and limiting the risk of discoloration in darker and tanned skin tones. This is especially true in laser hair removal treatments. This is because devices with a longer pulse duration deliver energy to the targeted hair follicles over a longer period of time, decreasing the risk of heating and damaging the epidermis in the process. Lighter, shorter pulses also offer a more comfortable option for patients by keeping heat to a minimum.
Finally, cooling is an important piece of the puzzle, particularly for patient comfort and customer satisfaction. Patients may not be happy with the results if they feel the outcome wasn’t worth the discomfort in the process.
Many of today’s laser systems offer built-in cooling features to protect the epidermis while reducing risk of pain, erythema (redness), PIH, burns, and more. The main objective of any laser aesthetic treatment is to maximize thermal damage in the targeted chromophores while ensuring safety and minimizing injury to healthy surrounding skin, making cooling systems essential. In fact, built-in cooling devices that deliver a cooling effect in sync with thermal energy delivery can help to better deliver thermal therapy downwards to targeted tissue for improved treatment results while protecting superficial tissue in the process.
Regardless of cooling features, though, it’s important that treatment providers use extra caution not to let pulses overlap during the treatment and allow for an adequate TRT. Post-treatment cooling options to improve patient comfort as needed may include ice or gel cooling pack, cooling sprays, or topicals for pain relief.
Devices that offer the ability to adjust any or all of these four settings can help to maximize efficiency, improve patient comfort, and boost overall outcomes. One such device that offers safe, quick treatments for patients with a variety of skin tones while equipping operators with greater control over treatment settings and options is the Venus Velocity™ laser diode hair removal device.
With the proven efficacy of diode laser technology and a real-time cooling system, Venus Velocity™ offers the optimal balance between high energy absorption of melanin chromophores and deep penetration into the skin, making it safe and effective for all skin types, including tanned skin. Venus Velocity™ offers users a dynamic Guided User Interface that allows for the technician to input the area being treated, patient skin type, and the hair type specifics—the system will adjust to provide the parameter settings appropriate for optimal efficacy. The device features two versatile modes of operation: Pulse mode and Slide mode. Pulse mode offers the option of a quick, single-pass treatment for high precision and optimal effect with a shorter treatment time, while Slide mode offers “pain-free” treatments for improved patient comfort with controlled treatment area sizes for technician guidance. Providers may also choose between three changeable light guide sizes for greater time efficiency.
Finally, Venus Velocity™ features a real-time built-in cooling system that monitors applicator temperature at a rate of 1,000 times per second, enabling treatment providers to ensure temperature consistency throughout each treatment session as well as across treatments for consistent results and safe, comfortable treatment sessions. With a more enjoyable treatment experience for your patients, compliance and satisfaction are improved, patient loyalty is increased, and acquisition through word of mouth may also see a boost, not to mention an increase in productivity within your clinic by cutting out any downtime for cooling.
Interested in learning more about Venus Velocity™ or Venus Concept’s other advanced treatment technologies for faster treatment times and cooling for patient comfort? Contact an expert today.