Cosmetic Surgery Tips

Halo Laser For Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are a common skin condition that many people have to deal with. Stretch marks can occur during pregnancy, puberty, or weight gain. While they are not a life-threatening condition, they can be very frustrating and embarrassing to live with.

Halo Laser For Stretch Marks is a new laser treatment that uses low-level laser therapy to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. It works by increasing collagen production in the dermis layer of your skin which helps to thicken it and reduce the appearance of stretch marks. This process also encourages cell regeneration so that your skin heals faster after injuries like cuts or burns.

In this post, we’ll consider laser stretch mark removal cost and stretch mark laser removal before and after.

Halo Laser For Stretch Marks

The Halo hybrid fractional laser combines ablative and non-ablative wavelengths that simultaneously target the top layer of your skin and the deeper tissue underneath the surface, for a powerful skin rejuvenation treatment. It’s typically used on the face, neck, and décolletage, but it can also treat the arms, hands, and legs. 

Suitable for patients of all skin tones, Halo is considered a second-generation laser—an improvement on earlier devices, which require more treatment sessions and more downtime to achieve the same type of results as one Halo treatment.

“By combining the two wavelengths, we minimize the healing time and maximize the results,” says Dr. Kris Reddy, a plastic surgeon in West Palm Beach, Florida. Your provider can dial up or down each wavelength, making it more or less aggressive, depending on your skin’s needs and the amount of downtime you can take.

Halo is a fractionated laser, so it breaks the light into many small beams that hit skin in tiny dots while leaving surrounding areas intact.

On the skin’s surface, it can treat a variety of skin concerns, including visible signs of aging and sun damage: hyperpigmentation and other types of discoloration, uneven skin tone, fine lines, and textural issues.

Simultaneously, it also heats the tissue below the surface to trigger the body’s natural healing response, stimulating new collagen production for firmer, smoother skin over time. While this can improve mild laxity, Halo is not intended to treat deep wrinkles or tighten skin.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • You get the benefits of both a non-ablative and ablative laser in a single treatment, improving both the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin. 
  • It comes with less downtime than other lasers with comparable results. You will have some redness and swelling for a few days, but many patients take only one day off from work—much less than the week of downtime after the most well-known fractional laser treatment, Fraxel.
  • You’ll see initial results—a youthful glow and more even skin—in as few as five to seven days.
  • The long-term results can last years (with good skin care and sun protection).
  • Halo’s settings are highly customizable, making it one of the safest laser treatments for dark skin. It’s also the laser of choice for treating melasma and other types of hyperpigmentation.

Cons

  • The treatment itself should feel warm and prickly—thanks to numbing cream—but you should be prepared for some pain afterward. “I immediately was uncomfortable and was driving home with ice packs on my face. It was like I put my face in a hot oven,” says RealSelf member seger26. “The first few hours were not fun.”
  • While the downtime is considered minimal among laser treatments, your skin will be visibly red, swollen, and flaky for up to a week. Your normal activities won’t be too limited, but you’ll probably want to stay home.
  • A small number of patients have significant swelling in the first few days after treatment. It usually resolves within a week.

Laser Stretch Mark Removal Cost

  • Average Cost:
  • $1,475
  • Range:
  • $700 – $2,500

The price you pay for a Halo treatment will depend on your provider’s level of experience, their practice location, how many areas you have treated, and a few other key factors.

Finance your procedure

RealSelf can connect you with vetted lenders for financing options that fit your budget and timeline.

How to prepare for Halo laser treatment

As you anticipate your Halo laser appointment, here’s how you can help minimize the risks and maximize your results. 

Starting two weeks in advance:

  • Avoid sun exposure and any kind of tanning, including self- or spray tanning.
  • Don’t wax, tweeze, or use hair-removal creams on the treatment area
  • If you’re prone to cold sores, you may be given anti-viral medication to reduce the risk of an outbreak

One week prior:

  • Stop using skincare products with active ingredients like retinol, hydroquinone, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide for seven days before treatment

Before you head to your appointment, make sure your skin is free of lotion or make-up. 

If you have any other concerns about prepping for your treatment, ask your provider during your consultation.

What happens during a Halo laser treatment?

A treatment typically takes 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the area you’re treating. While individual treatment plans and techniques can differ, here’s the general rundown of the experience:

  • First, your physician first applies a topical anesthetic to the treatment areas.
  • Once your skin is fully numb (which can take up to an hour), you’ll put on protective eyewear. 
  • Then your doctor begins the treatment, moving the Halo handpiece across the treatment area and delivering both wavelengths at once. 
  • You’ll feel heat and a prickling sensation. Some say it can be a bit painful, like rubber bands snapping against your skin, but the device blows cool air to help reduce discomfort and soothe inflammation during the procedure. In a 2018 multicenter study funded by Sciton, the manufacturer, patients rated the pain a 4 on a scale of 1–10.
  • Finally, your doctor will likely apply an occlusive moisturizer post-procedure, to keep your skin moist and protected as you heal.

How long does it take to heal from Halo laser?

Healing time after Halo laser treatment can range from just a few days to a full week, depending on the intensity of your treatment and how your skin reacts. 

After a Halo treatment, your skin will continue to feel the heat, especially during the first few hours. Ice packs can help soothe the stinging sensation.

You won’t see much of a difference the first day, but you can expect the following in the immediate days post-treatment:

  • Peeling, flaking, itching, swelling, redness, and bronzing will occur the next day as your skin begins to heal.
  • Any brown spots on your skin may become darker too. 
  • These symptoms usually peak in two to three days and subside within a week.

Some doctors say the swelling is a good sign that the treatment is working. “Generally, the patients who have a more significant inflammatory response will actually end up with more significant collagen stimulation, [greater] improvement to elasticity, and a better overall result,” says Dr. Sue Ellen Cox, a dermatologic surgeon in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 

Dr. Cox recommends contacting your doctor if you’re concerned or if the swelling lasts more than five days.

You can help decrease swelling and other inflammatory responses sooner by doing the following during your healing process:

  • Avoid salty foods.
  • Keep your head elevated (prop it up with pillows while you sleep).
  • Take an antihistamine.
  • Avoid excessive use of ice, as it may actually contribute to swelling.
  • Avoid direct sun exposure and vigorous activity.
  • Keep your skin-care regimen stripped down to a gentle cleanser, simple moisturizer, and physical sunscreen (with minerals like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide).
  • Makeup can be applied once the peeling stops.

You’ll see Halo results in two phases, because the Halo laser delivers two different wavelengths of light.

“Short-term results [appear] within five to seven days,” explains Jericho, New York, plastic surgeon Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh. “Longer-term results appear over six to eight weeks, as you begin to see improvements in the texture of your skin and pores.”

When can you exfoliate after Halo laser?

You can exfoliate a week after your Halo laser treatment, once your skin has healed. 

Prior to that, exfoliating (or picking, scrubbing, or rubbing) your skin could lead to complications like scarring or pigmentation changes. 

Instead, wash the skin with a gentle cleanser each day, and allow any peeling or flaking to come off naturally.

What are the risks and potential side effects of Halo laser?

Like all laser treatments, Halo carries risks of burning, blistering, scarring, and infection. 

The risk of burning and scarring is higher for dark skin, which may also be at risk of hypo- or hyperpigmentation. However, doctors on RealSelf say Halo is still the best laser option for all skin tones. 

“Halo is the safest type of laser for dark skin because the settings can be customized for your skin type. Ablation can be reduced to a smaller fraction of the face and shallower depth,” says San Francisco physician Dr. Jake Wardwell. “Halo has been studied and shown to be safe for all skin types, and it is the laser of choice for treating conditions that have a higher risk of hyperpigmentation, such as melasma or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, without risking making it worse.”

To help ensure a good outcome, find a provider who regularly performs the treatment and has a track record of positive Halo reviews.

How long does Halo laser last?

How long Halo laser treatment results last varies from person to person, but the typical timeline is one to two years. 

You can help prolong your results by practicing smart sun behavior: apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day, wear a hat, and try to stay out of the sun during peak hours. An anti-aging skin-care regimen can also help.

What are some alternatives to Halo laser?

Chemical Peel nonsurgicalPotenza nonsurgicalVivace nonsurgicalClear + Brilliant nonsurgicalCO2 Laser nonsurgicalHalo Laser nonsurgicalLaser Genesis nonsurgical
Worth It Rating91%90%90%86%84%84%81%
Average Cost$400$1675$875$725$2750$1475$650
DowntimeUp to 2 weeks of downtimeLittle to no downtimeLittle to no downtimeNo downtime1–2 weeks of downtime2–7 days of downtimeNo downtime
AnesthesiaNo anesthesiaTopical numbing creamTopical anesthesiaTopical anesthesia (if needed)Local or general anesthesiaTopical anesthesiaNo anesthesia

Dr. Reddy says there is currently no laser out there that can replicate the effects of the Halo. The closest you can get in terms of results will require more treatments or extended downtime.

Other laser options include the following:

  • If you want a laser with zero to minimal downtime, both Laser Genesis and Clear + Brilliant can improve pore size, fade pigmentation, and soften fine lines, without any recovery time. That said, patients with severe wrinkles or acne scars won’t see a significant improvement, and it will take a series of three to six “microlaser peels” to deliver similar results to one Halo treatment. 
  • CO2 laser is a more aggressive laser resurfacing option, so it comes with several more days of downtime. That said, CO2 lasers can effectively treat a variety of skin concerns and provide more drastic results than many other treatments.
  • Other alternatives include radiofrequency (RF) microneedling treatments, such as Vivace and Potenza, which stimulate collagen in the deeper layers of skin to treat wrinkles, acne scars, uneven texture, sunspots, and rosacea. However, it’s likely that you’ll have less dramatic results than those of resurfacing lasers, and they require more treatments to get good results.
  • Chemical peels, which use an acidic solution to remove damaged top layers of skin and speed up cell turnover, can also drastically improve the skin’s appearance. Chemical peels range from superficial to deep, so the intensity can be customized according to your skin type and concerns.

What causes stretch marks?

Stretch marks are caused by excessive stretching and rupture of elastic fibers, often on the abdomen, hips and breasts, especially due to pregnancy, rapid weight loss, and hormones.

Causes

The medical term for stretch marks is striae. They are scar tissue in the second layer of skin that appears as indented streaks on the abdomen, breasts (as in Kim K’s case), hips, buttocks and thighs. Stretch marks are caused by a stretching of the skin, which is why they tend to occur during pregnancy and with rapid weight gain or loss. About 90 percent of women will get them sometime after their sixth or seventh month of pregnancy, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Skin is usually fairly elastic and will bounce back, but when the connective tissues are stretched too thin, the normal production of collagen is disrupted, causing the stretch marks. Collagen is the main protein that gives skin its elastic qualities.

Risks

Not everyone will develop stretch marks even during these situations. Other risks include gender (yes, females are more prone to stretch marks than men), genes (if your mom had stretch marks, you may develop them as well), and degree of stress on skin and levels of the stress hormone cortisone, which may weaken elastic fibers in the skin. Oversized breast implants and the topical steroids used to treat such skin conditions as eczema and psoriasis may also cause stretch marks.

“Some people are more prone than others,” says Alisha Plotner, MD, a dermatologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. “Rapid weight gain during a growth spurt in puberty or pregnancy, obesity, underlying medical issues, and genetic component are the main risk factors.”

Treatments

How (or if) stretch marks are treated depends on several factors including how bothersome the marks are, where they are located, how old they are, skin type, how much downtime you are willing to tolerate, and, of course, cost.

In some cases, self-tanners and sunless tanning products are all that’s needed to camouflage stretch marks. Often, more serious mesures are required.

Abdominoplasty

“Bar none, the best way to get rid of stretch marks on the stomach is an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck,” says Dr. Z. Paul Lorenc, MD, a board certified plastic surgeon based in New York City. A tummy tuck is often one part of a mommy makeover – a combination of procedures designed to restore a mom’s pre-pregnancy body. “You are removing the skin and the stretch marks with this surgery,” he explains.

But it is a surgery – which means downtime and risk.

Microneedling

For newer stretch marks – ie, those that are around a few months old and tend to be reddish or slightly purple – Dr. Lorenc is a fan of microneedling with platelet rich plasma (PRP).

Microneedling stimulates collagen, and the growth factors found in PRP further potentiate the production of collagen, which is in short supply in stretch marks. By making tiny pinpricks in the skin, microneedling starts up a controlled healing process to boost collagen production around the stretch marks. PRP therapy involves drawing blood, isolating the PRP, which contains proteins and other growth factors, and injecting it back into the stretch mark.

“It’s not a one-and-done procedure,” warns Dr. Lorenc. “Multiple treatments are required, typically spaced one a month for three months and then a possible maintenance session at six months. There may be some residual redness after this treatment, but there is no significant downtime.”

Marina Del Ray, California plastic surgeon Dr. Grant Stevens, MD agrees that microneedling is the way to go for newer stretch marks. He often suggests collagen-boosting Retin-A between treatment sessions. His Rx? Three microneedling treatments on average, with more if needed.

Pulsed Laser

Pulsed dye laser is another option for newer stretch marks, says Dr. Plotner. These lasers directly target the redness and also boost collagen and elastin. Like collagen, elastin provides skin with structure and elasticity.

Sciton’s Halo Laser

“For old stretch marks, Sciton’s Halo or a fractionated laser makes sense,” says Dr. Stevens. Older stretch marks tend to be white or silvery in color.

Halo is a hybrid laser that produces fractional ablative results with nonablative downtime by applying both wavelengths in a single pass. Ablative lasers work removing the outermost layers of dead and damaged skin, while nonablative lasers pass through the skin’s upper layers to heat the deeper tissues, stimulating collagen. Stevens generally recommends at least three treatments, and often prescribes collagen-boosting Retin-A between sessions.

Stretch Mark Prevention

“Massaging the area with moisturizer may help pregnant women prevent stretch marks,” says Dr. Plotner. The same Vitamin A derived topical tretinoin that can help reduce stretch marks may also play a role in their prevention. Caution: retinoids are not safe during pregnancy or breast feeding.

In one survey of 773 pregnant women, most said they used a product to prevent or reduce the development of stretch marks during their current pregnancy. More than one third of women had used two or more products, and Bio-oil was the most frequently used skincare product and the most frequently used product among women who used only one product.

Bio-oil contains several oils and a weaker form of Vitamin A. There is a need for high-quality evidence on the effectiveness of Bio-oil and other products, researchers concluded in the September 2016 issue of BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.

Stretch Mark Laser Removal Before And After

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