By Ray Rogers
Autumn heralds the start of “laser season,” notes Dr. Rishi Chopra, a Harvard-trained, board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at UnionDerm, a practice with two locations in NYC and a new comprehensive outpost that launched this summer in Water Mill. Between fall and spring is the optimal time to reset the skin, correcting any damage from sun exposure over the summer—without the risk of additional harm from continued sun exposure when the skin needs to heal.
The good news for people interested in cosmetic Fraxel laser work: It also has the potential to help stave off skin cancer, according to a new study from Harvard Medical School – Massachusetts General Hospital on nonablative fractional lasers. “We’ve known for many years that Fraxel is a great cosmetic treatment for signs of aging caused by the sun such as sunspots, fine lines and wrinkles,” says Chopra. “However, we didn’t definitively comprehend the medical benefits until this year’s study. It showed reduced risks of the two most common types of skin cancers by 50 percent.”
Bonus: Because nonablative fractional lasers keep skin intact (rather than removing the top layers, as more aggressive ablative lasers do), there is a lot less downtime for recovery (signs of redness, puffiness and peeling should subside in three to five days, with full recovery within about a week). How does it work? Fraxel has two wavelengths—one that targets deeply, and one more superficially, says Chopra. “Our skin is composed mostly of water, and these light wavelengths specifically target the water at different depths to generate heat, build new collagen and resurface the skin. It can prevent and treat the signs of aging, and even acne scarring.”
What’s also unique about Fraxel is the potential for topical medication delivery. “The skin has a barrier, and lasers help temporarily disrupt that barrier,” he explains. “So when you apply medical-grade skin care, like topical TXA (tranexamic acid, to treat hyperpigmentation and melasma) or vitamin C, it will penetrate deeper after the procedure to more effectively and evenly target the conditions we’re trying to treat.” Not only will you look refreshed and glowing, “Fraxel will also actually improve the medical health of your skin,” says Chopra. Win-win. 728 Montauk Hwy., Water Mill; unionderm.com