Laser technologies that allow for private treatment at home, once only available in a doctor's office, are under development for the consumer market. While many of thee home devices offer energy outputs and in-machine safety features similar to office installations, there are some limitations. Discomfort and frequent longer treatment times may occur, but in the hands of a well-informed patient, the treatments may complement office-based procedures. Let Anne Chapas MD FAAD and Kendra Gail Bergstrom MD FAAD tell you the facts:
Anti-aging Laser Treatments
Home anti-aging devices offer red light, infrared, a combination of light colors and heat, or non-ablative fractional resurfacing. Most are approved medical devices and can be purchased online or at cosmetics retailers. The requirement for protective eyewear varies among available products.
LightStim for wrinkles, approximately
This hand-held device uses red, infrared, and amber light via an array of 72 LEDs between 600 and 900 nm. It is approved for treatment of periorbital rhytides, and a similar unit is approved for treatment of mild musculoskeletal pain. The recommended treatment time is extensive: 5-7 days per week, 3 minutes per area, to desired results. Manufacturer recommends at least a 2-month treatment course, followed by twice weekly maintenance routine. It is available from the manufacturer, from direct-to-consumer marketing outlets like QVC, and from distributors like spas and medical offices. LightStim also makes medical grade’ light panels for rapid, full-face treatment in an office.
DPL Nuve, approximately
DPL stands for deep penetrating light, and this unit claims to improve periorbital rhytides and mild to moderate acne. The handpiece uses 56,880 nm infrared and 4,660 nm red LED light. These lights can be warm, so the unit is equipped with a cooling fan. Treatment is recommended twice daily for approximately 15 minutes per session. Very little clinical data is available on their website or elsewhere, and amazon.com reviewers often reported breakage issues with this unit.
Approved as substantially equivalent for treatment of periorbital rhyides, using 633 nm red and 820 nm infrared LED lights. Treatment time is less than with other units, twice weekly for 4 weeks. The most common adverse event was skin erythema lasting 30 minutes to two hours after treatment. The Starlite-LM has, in March of this year, just begun to be marketed directly to consumers direct response television (ie, informercials) on television channels such as Lifetime.
Tanda Luxe Skin Rejuvenation Photofacial device
This Tanda product uses red light at 660 nm from an LED array to increase skin blood flow and stimulate collagen and elastin formation. The Luxe model, the first for anti-aging was only recently, in August 2011. It claims to combine red light with sonic vibration, gentle warming, and a massaging treatment head for best results. Treatments recommended for 3 minutes per ‘treatment area’, or 12 minutes for full face, three times per week. Eye safety goggles are recommended and included with product purchase. The Tanda line of products is manufactured by Syneron, which manufactures several lasers and liposuction devices for physician use as well.
The BabyQuasar offers, according to its marketing materials, four wavelength settings in red and infrared, 600 to 1200 nm. Two treatment settings are noted, low frequency ‘orange LED’ for sensitive skin and high frequency ‘red LED’ for regular skin. Daily use is recommended, with or without their proprietary serum. Treatment takes 12 minutes for the full face per the website, in consumer reviews, some users report up to 36 minutes daily. No eye protection required. The red LED is also recommended by the manufacturer for topical treatment of muscle aches and sprains.
Interestingly, many of the above claims about the BabyQuasar, available on their website as of 4/10/12, were the subject of an FDA Enforcement Warning Letter on December 9, 2011. This warning letter noted that the home Quasar device is only approved for two different wavelengths (infrared and red) rather than the above-described four, and highlighted other misleading or false marketing materials. A reply from the manufacturer, Quasar Biotech, is not available on the FDA’s website. (http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2011/ucm284403.htm, accessed 4/10/12)
Zeno Line Rewind
The Zeno Line Rewind uses the Zeno heating technology also seen for acne in combination with an array of six LED red lights, vibration, and a topical anti-aging serum. This serum, sold separately or as part of the system, is applied prior to treatment and its absorption should be enhanced by the Zeno treatment. The serum contains, among other things, resveratrol and hyaluronic acid. Some patients many enjoy the extra application of a topical serum, while others may find the separate topical application step to be an unnecessary hassle.
Silk'n Face FX
Uses a combination of an array of red LED lights and heating to 40-41ºC; marketing materials claim that this combination stimulates collagen production. Recommended use is three times weekly for treatment phase of four weeks, thereafter weekly. Each treatment takes 15-20 minutes. Marketing materials use the phrase 'Fractional Light' but it refers to using a fraction of the light spectrum (ie, the red spectrum only) rather than fractional treatment of a single area. A recent published study showed that biweekly treatment for 4 weeks resulted in significant improvement in wrinkles in 94% of the study participants 3 months after the last treatment. Less significant improvement was seen in pigmented lesions. (Shaoul, J and Mulholland, RS. “Evaluation of the Safety and Efficacy of a Novel Home-Use Device with Diode Arrays and Contact Heating for Facial Skin Rejuvenation.” Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications, 2011, 1:119-124.)
Fractional non-Ablative Resurfacing
Only one at-home fractional resurfacing device is available, at 1410 nm as a non-ablative treatment option. It is manufactured by Palomar and approved for home treatment of periorbital rhytides. The published treatment regimen recommends daily use for 4 weeks followed by twice weekly maintenance treatments for 4 weeks. It is marketed on QVC (both on television and online), and at department stores like Nordstrom.
In a published study (Leyden 2010), 124 of 136 recruited subjects completed home treatment of periorbital rhytides with the PaloVia system for six months, including both the daily active treatment and biweekly maintenance treatment periods. 90% of treated patients improved by at least one grade on the Fitzpatrick Wrinkle Score by blinded assessment of standardized photographs at the end of the treatment phase. After a 5-month maintenance period, 79% of patients preserved their improvement. Given than improvement is more marked in the treatment than maintenance phases, consistent users could consider another active treatment period 3-6 months later; repeat treatment protocols have yet to be published.
Other at-home non-ablative fractional resurfacing units are available now in the European Union and should come to United States soon.
(Leyden J., Stephens, T. Multi-Center Clinical Trials of Home-Use Non-Ablative Fractional Laser Device for Wrinkle Reduction. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, April 2010.)
About the Authors:
Anne Chapas MD FAAD is Director, Union Square Laser Dermatology, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology, NYU Medical Center, New York, NY; Kendra Gail Bergstrom MD FAAD is affiliated with Pacific Medical Centers, Seattle, WA
The JDD editorial staff welcomes your feedback, questions, and comments regarding at-home laser treatments for unwanted hair. Also, for more information on at-home laser treatments, please see the June issue of the JDD's News, Views, and Reviews section.