All lasers are not created equal. That’s what I learned when my go-to person for facial rejuvenation, Christiane McCombie, a registered nurse at Chesapeake Plastic Surgery, suggested I have a Halo Hybrid Fractional laser treatment. Initially, I was skeptical. In the past, my face has endured innumerable peels, lasers and lights that did nada except lighten my wallet.
McCombie says this one is different, “Halo combines two types of lasers using both ablative and non-ablative technology.” Greek to me but important to know if you are considering a laser treatment. Basically, that means this hybrid laser can target the epidermal and dermal pigmented skin lesions, reduce pore size and stimulate collagen all at the same time.
What about my dark olive complexion? I don’t want my face to wind up being three shades lighter than the rest of me. She says Halo is gentler, adjustable and less aggressive than lasers of the past. It’s suitable for all skin shades.
“By targeting the epidermis and dermis, this hybrid laser evens skin texture and tone. It minimizes pore size, helps correct sun damage and reduces brown spots,” McCombie says. I listen, but I also do my homework. I learn that the ablative laser creates teeny tiny pathways into the skin. At the same time, the non-ablative laser triggers collagen and elastin production — the things that minimizes wrinkles and stems the signs of aging.
The promise of stimulating my own collagen and reducing my crater-like pores nudges me to give her the green light. Numbing cream is spread over my face and I wait in a comfy chair for the effects to kick in. Thirty minutes later, blackout glasses are placed over my eyes and McCombie begins on my forehead before pressing her magic wand over every part of my face.
The laser feels like tiny electrically charged zaps or warm pin pricks — it is uncomfortable but not unbearable. I spend my zapping time focused on my future glowing skin. A little discomfort now is OK as long as the results pay off.
Thirty minutes later the treatment is over. My face feels warm. I have no pain. I’m given a bottle of gentle cleanser, packets of moisturizer and a cooling face mask to store in the freezer for nighttime use should the heat turn up à la sunburn.
Later that night my face is puffy and feels hot. I apply the ice mask that covers my entire face and cool things down. (With holes for my eyes and mouth, I dub it my Hannibal Lector look.) I never take one Tylenol.
The biggest problem with Halo is that it requires patience to experience the results. It takes a few months to get the benefits of collagen rejuvenation.
“Collagen remodeling typically takes at least 90 days due to cellular turnover and sometimes can take even longer, especially in older individuals and individuals with compromised skin,” McCombie says. (Of course, I’m impatient. I want to see results now.)
After two months, I notice the texture of my skin looking a lot better. Pores tighter. My skin looks fresher, dark spots are gone, and my face really has a glow. “Deeper collagen stimulation can continue for up to six months,” Chris says. “It will only get better over time.”
So what’s the downside? Halo doesn’t come with the cheapest price tag — $1,500 — and I may need a booster in about a year. But judging from my results, for me it is worth every penny. I’m experiencing the best skin of my adult life.