Don’t try this at home! The New York Times recently looked at at-home laser skin treatments and found that the cons outweigh the pros for these devices.
Several doctors weighed in with their opinions about the safety and effectiveness of these products, which are available to consumers for a variety of purposes, including for reducing wrinkles and hair removal.
While these at-home lasers may be cheaper than procedures at a cosmetic surgeon’s office, they may put you at risk of damaging your skin, according to the experts.
For instance, Dr. Sandra Lee, a dermatologist in Upland, Calif., worries about people misusing the product, for instance, using it more often than recommended. “If it says, don’t use more than once a day, but if you’re a teen and you use it more than once a day, are you then at risk for scarring?” Dr. Lee said.
New York City dermatologist Dr. Neil Sadick told the Times that there’s the “slight potential” for squamous or basal skin cancers from the ultraviolet light sources, though he said that at-home laser devices used less energy than the machines in doctors’ offices.
There’s also the question of whether these products have been vetted. Because they are beauty devices, not medical devices, they do not have to be reviewed by the FDA, although some are peer-reviewed by medical experts.
“There may be unforeseen uses and unforeseen consequences that may arise,” even with effective devices, according to Dr. Mathew M. Avram in Boston. These include the possibility of scarring, soreness, redness and hyperpigmentation, and potential product malfunctions.
Patient compliance is usually a large problem with at-home lasers, according to doctors. For instance, one product requires the patient to beam a laser on her legs for 20 minutes a day. Doctors report that many people just stop using them because it’s too time consuming.
Because of these drawbacks, if you are looking for a laser treatment to rejuvenate your skin, to smooth and tighten your skin or to remove unwanted body hair, visiting your doctor may be your best and safest choice.