Consultation & Process
Three weeks ago, I spent the morning with the incredible staff at Plastic Surgery Aesthetics in Waukesha, WI to get a Halo Plus laser treatment. I met with them the week prior for a consultation about my skin and to talk about what I was looking for and why I was interested in a laser treatment. The spa itself: super cozy and I immediately felt comfortable there.
Being a working mom of two younger children, I was not 100% excited about the consultation due to time constraints. But, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with the level of expertise the laser technician had, and the knowledge I gained from going, along with the amazing staff. The technician, Angela, gets an A+ rating. So sweet. Everyone I came into contact with was wonderful.
I walked away feeling like it was an excellent use of time since we could discuss pros and cons to both treatments I was considering, in depth: Radio Frequency for skin tightening. or Halo Plus to cover off on more areas. We were then able to decide on the best path forward based on my skin type, age, the downtime and needs I wanted to address.
Overall, I have relatively good tone and texture; especially, “for my age,” but there was some hyperpigmentation that was definitely visible to me from prior cystic acne. That darker area often left me feeling sensitive and putting on cover up, just in that one spot, and I wanted to avoid having to do that for the rest of my life. I had been anxious to find something that would address that issue, and simultaneously kill fine lines and wrinkles, or what I call the “Grandma-cheek- lines.”
If you are not sure what I am referring to, you are either 1) super lucky and have found a fountain of youth, which you should share asap, or 2) too young to have these lines, and spoiler alert: those cheek lines will eventually happen to all of us. Horrible, right? What happens: your skin gets thinner, loses collagen, and gets pulled down as gravity inevitably settles in on your face. You are left with micro fine lines that show up when you smile and then, eventually; they are there even you are not smiling. And p.s. it ain’t pretty. You can certainly address those lines with botox to kill the direct wrinkles around your eyes, but the only other solution for the cheeks are fillers once or twice a year, which will lift the skin and fill it to make it taught and “replace” the collagen loss for a period of time. But, my goal was to find a solution that would actually improve the color, texture overall, and get rid of the micro fine lines, until it was time to do another treatment months down the road.
In my late 20s I became very focused on maintaining the skin I have. I have done lots of treatments over time from ViiPeels, glycolic peels, collagen masks, IPL (lasers), derma planning, microdermabrasion, Clear & Brilliant (huge fan), and a variety of other things including monthly facials and of course Rodan & Fields- of course. I had do it. More on that later. So for me, trying the latest and greatest laser was something I really wanted to do; especially, since I was starting to see those fine lines that don’t go away, even when my skin is fully hydrated and I am in the best humidity for good skin, possible.
After chatting with Angela, I decided to try the Halo Plus laser. Important distinction, Halo Plus is a little more powerful than the Halo laser, and hence slightly more expensive. Cost varies, but the average is somewhere around $1500-$2000.
What is it?
The Halo combines two types of lasers: ablative and non-ablative. What does that mean? In laymen’s terms: it penetrates below the skin and also takes care of the top layer of skin so you are essentially getting a double dose treatment. The laser creates tiny little abrasions to the skin, which forces the skin to “mend” and stimulate collagen to heal those abrasions, thus leaving your skin tightened, glowing, and with less visible pigmentation, a reduction of fine lines and smaller pore size. Many people say they get a “glow” from it. Sign me up, right?
I was super excited, but unlike Clear & Brilliant, IPL, and other lower-grade lasers, you can expect to be down for the count, in a big way, for about four days. We are talking, don’t go near the kids because you will scare them, and it’s possible you may want to give your husband a hall pass for those four days because let’s face it, he is going to be questioning your sanity when he first sees you post-treatment.
The Play by Play
I chose to do this on Tuesday knowing I could avoid most people, including my husband for at least two full days, and most of the world for three, minus my poor dentists. He’s scarred for life.
I went in for the laser at 9 a.m. They numbed my skin to ensure I would be in less pain during the procedure. After numbing for 45 mins, they run the laser over your face, and the entire process takes about 20 minutes. Having done spot laser treatments to address hyperpigmentation, I am happy to share that I did not feel like I was being zapped or shocked every time it hit my face. It was more of mild, slightly tingly, and only slightly painful sensation. I was not comfortable, but I was not screaming for momma either. However, after it is over, you can bet your bottom dollar that I was in a significant amount of pain. You have a cool air fan to run over your face directly after treatment, and they give you ice packets. You can see why below-swelling and redness.
But, for about 2-3 hrs. post-treatment, my face was burning, and no amount of Tylenol would make it feel much better. You just have to push through- it’s marathon, not a sprint.
That evening my face was swollen, red and extremely hot. All of these things are normal. You are also not supposed to shower after this treatment, or be in an environment that could heat your body up, which can ultimately cause permanent, and severe hyperpigmentation; so no exercise for 48-72 hrs.
Warning: These photos are frightening (should have warned you sooner-the one above is a little scary, too).
You can see my face developed a brown’ish “freckling” of the skin. And along with it, was a crust on top. I tell you, what we do in the name of beauty. My skin was still sensitive, and very dry. I was provided with Avene Eua Thermale liquid moisturizer to continuously apply. Very important so your skin can heal. You want to keep it moisturized and you must use sunscreen. I was not in much pain on Day 2, but I was not 100% comfortable and it was definitely not my finest look.
This was probably the worst day in terms of overall look and feel. The brown’ish spots had started to turn more of red and my skin was incredibly dry and very rough, like sandpaper. However, I was not in my pain, the swelling had subsided and my face was no longer hot.
I woke up with darker spots that were starting to flake off. I still looked pretty bad in the morning, but once showered, the skin started to slough away naturally and I was left with new skin underneath. I still had some brown spots, my skin was extremely dry and red, but I was starting to look normal again.
My skin was red, still much drier than usual, but all the brown skin had flaked away. My skin was still very tight, but I was getting back to normal.
My skin was still a little dry, and most other things has subsided, though there was a sandpaper texture.
Two Weeks Post-Treatment:
I still had a slight sandpaper texture to my skin, but I looked 100% normal. I was told that texture can last for a month or two for some people. But it’s gone for me.
Three Weeks Post-Treatment:
My skin is back to normal. My skin is slightly smoother, but there is not a huge noticeable difference in the overall quality of my skin or decrease in pigmentation. Additionally, I have to stay out of the sun for two months to ensure I don’t create additional hyper-pigmentation. What I have been told is that results typically do not start to show fully for about 6-8 weeks as your skin is continuing to heal from the inside out. I’ll be following up to tell you all my final thoughts on this treatment in later April.
But overall, I loved the ladies at Plastic Surgery Associates. They were so sweet, incredibly knowledgeable and I will definitely be going back there for other treatments. I am extremely particular about estheticians and anyone doing any kind of a laser on my face and I felt like they did a fantastic job.
Stay tuned for the final recap and post-treatment pictures.