BBL or Laser Treatment for Multiple Skin Problems?

I'm going on my second consult with a new doctor this Friday for a skin evaluation. First doctor said I needed a BBL (literally a 30-second consult). I don't feel I will get the results I'm looking for. I have acne, deep acne scars (especially close to ear), chicken pox scars, sun spots, fine lines, and some wrinkles. I want to have a full face treatment. Do you think a BBL is suitable? What are your thoughts on a stronger laser treatment, such as Profractional? I have the time and the cost is not an issue.

Doctor Answers 4

BBL? Read the fine print, formerly known as the photofacial

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The "new" BBL broad band light technology is simply a repackaged type of IPL called the photofacial.  The photofacial gained popularity in the early1990's when the IPLs originally sold to doctors for laser hair removal didn't work. The companies promoting these devices looked for a new use and introduced the "Photofacial"   The photofacial had a moment of media popularity but lasers quickly took over for hair removal and skin rejuvenation.

I imagine many of the physicians that have invested in the BBL,  were unaware of the 20 year history of the photofacial.  One of my favorite lasers is the V-Beam. 15 years later, the V-Beam is still an amazing laser. New doesn't mean  better and old doesn't always mean outdated. But if a product works well and has a good reputation it generally doesn't change its name.

Try the Perfecta laser facial (a newer version of the Vbeam) for acne and acne scars. The long pulsed nd yag is also effective for scarring.

Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 123 reviews

BBL is great for pigment scarring

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The bbl (broad Band Light) therapy is a great light treatment to help improve any pigment irregularities.  BBL will not improve pitted acne scarring.  I have found that it works best to combine BBL and profractional laser therapy for pitted scarring, and BBL will work for any discoloration.  Multiple treatments will be needed. 

How to Treat Multiple Skin Problems

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First and foremost, make sure when you are consulting someone for any type of laser or IPL (BBL) procedure, they are qualified to do them. A board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon is your best bet. You have several concerns, and I think you should talk to your doctor about which is the best approach and which order you need to do things – as you have several issues you need to address.

Second, with the picture you are showing, you have several issues that I, as a dermatologist and laser person, would address in a particular order. You have acne, and when I see patientswith active acne and other concerns, I usually recommend we spend a month or so getting the acne under the best control we can with both oral and topical medications. Then once that happens, we can address the other concerns you have with an appropriate laser or light source. Remember, we want you to have the appropriate treatment, and sometimes it may be necessary to use more than one device to address various needs; so find out if the person talking to you has one machine they want to make fit for everyone or has options and will fit the condition to the machine. With your condition, if you can have a week of downtime, we, in 2014, would most likely recommend a full face CO2 fractional laser resurfacing procedure. If you cannot have downtime, a non-ablative fractional laser will, over time, address many of the issues. We also have something we call sublative rejuvenation, known as the eMatrix, which is a great device for acne scars – a series or treatments with minimal downtime using fractional RF energy instead of laser light. Several treatments are needed for this to help with the acne scars. An IPL, or BBL, which is the same thing, can be used to treat the reds and browns on the face, and in your case can be used after the lasers to deal with anything that is left from a photodamage point of view.

With all of these procedures, appropriate skin care and sun protection are a must – so let your board certified derm or plastic show you the most appropriate way to address all of your concerns and use the most appropriate devices for your needs.

Michael Gold, MD
Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Broad Band or Intense Pulsed Light appropriate

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BBL and IPL are the same. They refer to non-coherent light therapy. It would help brown spots, photoaging and acne, but not acne scars. Profractional resurfacing is more for fine lines, brown spots and mild acne scars, but might flare active acne. Based on your photo, your dermatologist might want to do IPL with Isolaz to address the active acne and discoloration at the same time. Salicylic acid peels would be another option. One thing is for sure: get the acne under better control becfore you resurface.

Mary P. Lupo, MD
New Orleans Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.