For a while now, I have been in love with Palomar Medical, having had the chance to operate one of their fantastic in-office laser devices. Not only do they give satisfying results for patients, but Palomar took the operator’s comfort into consideration too. With handles that are easy to hold for an extended laser session and feel comfortable to use, it’s an overall enjoyable experience for both dermatologist and patient! Love affair aside though, I approached this review skeptically: at-home laser? So many questions and concerns pop into my mind. So, let’s take a look.
Since 1991, Palomar Medical has been designing and selling highly advanced laser systems for hair removal, skin rejuvenation, scar treatment, and much more. I think their slogan, “From Light Comes Beauty™,” is very catchy and appropriate.
In 2009, Palomar got FDA clearance for the PaloVia Skin Renewing System, for at home treatment of fine periorbital lines. PaloVia is a non-ablative fractional laser device.
What does it do?
Unlike ablative laser, non-ablative laser works under the skin while leaving the surface intact. It targets aged collagen, breaking it down for the body to get rid of, while stimulating the production of new, healthy collagen, making the skin firm and smooth again and getting rid of wrinkles.
“Fractional ablation” means that the laser is delivered in focused beams that create isolated, microscopically small lesions, or wounds, within the skin, while skipping areas in the treated zone. Skin injury stimulates the natural wound healing response, while the “skip areas” act as a nutritional and structural reservoir, which allows for a faster healing process as compared to a larger wound. With each session, different areas of the skin are hit by the laser beams, ensuring that by the end of the treatment time, almost all the area treated will have been affected by the laser.
At home laser? And I use it with my eyes OPEN? How is that safe?
Yes, in-office laser devices require eye protection for both operator and patient. However, this is not the case with PaloVia, as it has the following safety features:
- Contact sensors ensure that the optical “treatment” window is in full contact with the skin surface throughout each pulse. If contact is lost, the pulse is interrupted.
- The pre-treatment gel provided ensures full contact and better light penetration during treatment.
- The selected laser specifications, such as wavelength and beam divergence, eliminate potential risk to the eye. PaloVia is a Class 1M laser product, which means it is safe for home use. In comparison, most in-office devices, such as the starlux, are class 4 laser devices, which are hazardous to the eyes and require eye protection. I will go into laser safety in more detail in a separate post, so stay tuned!
Are mild, transient, and include: edema, erythema, flaking, dryness, roughness, itching. A grid of brown dots may be visible, called “bronzing”, which is where the microbeams of laser hit the skin, but these are expected and they disappear in a few days. A few patients experienced hyperpigmentation, and in such cases, they were advised to discontinue use of the PaloVia.
I don’t quite have periorbital wrinkles yet, so I asked my friend, whom we’ll call Mona, to use it. Mona is in her late 60s and has a few wrinkles around her eyes that were bothering her. She has no constant skin care regimen.
Here’s what she had to say about the PaloVia:
- She loved the fact that it only took at most five minutes of her time per night.
- She tested out the pulse on her arm as advised, and did not think she could handle the highest level (PaloVia has three settings, low, medium and high), so she started with the low setting. Sure enough, she could barely handle that, and kept on using the low setting for 2 weeks.
- Immediately after the first session, she noticed some swelling and redness in rectangular shapes were the treatment window was put against her skin. However, the swelling and redness were gone after half a day.
- By day five, she felt that there is some swelling that won’t go away in the treated area.
- At 2 weeks, she decided to go up to the high setting, bypassing the medium. To her, that level was intolerable, and after only 2 days the upper outer eyelid was swollen, which worried her. So she stopped using the PaloVia for 2 days.
- When she started using it again she went down to the medium setting and kept using that until almost the end of the month.
- In the last three days of the month she went up to the high setting again.
- She only had to recharge the device twice in the first month of use.
- After the first month was completed she did not go into the maintenance phase right away.
Mona took her “post” picture one week after the last day of the month.
As you can see the result is pretty impressive: Of the 2 prominent wrinkles, one all but disappeared while the other shortened. Mona also has a much “fresher” look around her eyes in person. These results are even more impressive when you consider the following:
- Mona used the low setting for 2 weeks and the medium setting for 2 weeks. Imagine using it on high for the entire month. To Mona the high setting was not tolerable, but to most people who tested PaloVia in various studies, the high setting was not bothersome at all.
- Mona missed three days in total during that one month of use.
- This was the result seen after only one month. I’d imagine even more improvement with maintenance.
Curiously, the left eye did not show much improvement.
How do I know the wrinkles won’t just come back after I stop using the PaloVia?
It’s a sad fact, but we won’t stop aging! Wrinkles will definitely appear again if you stop the maintenance, but it is not that the effect of the PaloVia wears off, it’s just that our collagen keeps getting older with us. So to hold on to the results, continued maintenance plus proper TLC for your skin and overall health are both necessary. That being said, after the first month is over, a regular ten minutes out of our week doesn’t seem like such a high price to pay if we get to have wrinkle free eyes!
PaloVia is a fantastic happy medium between creams that take months and months to show results (if any), and in-office laser treatments that are costly and time consuming.
Many interested in purchasing a PaloVia will be concerned about eye be safety. At home laser devices have been around for a mere five years, but lasers as a whole have been studied for over half a century, in terms of what specs make them safe, and according to these extensive studies, the PaloVia is deemed safe for home use. Still, it is too early to say what possible long term effects home laser devices will have.
If you’re looking to get rid of fine periorbital wrinkles, give the PaloVia a try. You can find a lot more information, pictures and reviews and comprehensive FAQs on the paloVia.com website.
Thanks for reading!
- D. Manstein, HJ. Laubach. Fractional Photothermolysis. In: Lasers in Dermatology and Medicine, Springer 2012; 123-47.
- J. Leyden et al. Multicenter Clinical Trial of a Home Use Non Ablative Fractional Laser Device for Wrinkle Reduction. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2012.
- N. Saedi et al. Fractionation: Past, Present, Future. Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery 2012; 31 (2): 105-9.
- H. Bargman. Laser Classification Systems. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology 2010; 3 (10): 19-20.
Dr. Hanan Taha, M.D. got her MD from Kuwait University in 2002, and obtained a masters degree in Dermatology in 2010 from the University of Alexandria. She has experience in various cosmetic procedures, such as hair removal, facial rejuvenation, skin tightening, cellulite treatment, and management of stretch marks. Hanan’s passion for dermatology started on her very first day of rounds, and after being undecided for years on which direction to go, she decided to become a dermatologist. A strong believer in patient education as grounds for a healthy living, she strives to thoroughly explain her patients their skin problems or concerns and the proposed treatment plan. She also runs a blog in Arabic dedicated to spreading the knowledge about dermatology and cosmetic dermatology in a simple, concise manner (elbashra.com). Elbashra (البشرة) is the Arabic word for “the skin.”View all Dr. Hanan Taha, M.D. posts.
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