REVIEW + Q&A: PICOWAY LASER FACIAL TREATMENT
Hey there, friends! I’m excited to finally share my experience and knowledge about the recent laser skincare treatment I recently had done at CMA Medicine in Jacksonville with you! I was shocked by how interested you all were when I decided to cover it on Snapchat and thank you for your patience in getting this post to you.
This all kind of came about inadvertently. I think I had always known about cosmetic medicine centers but never really sought out more information about what they do for their patients. It’s not a side of healthcare that is covered in nursing school, so when my friend, Christen, was telling me about that industry and what she personally does for a living within it, I was really intrigued. Growing up in Florida, and being raised by a generation of adults who glamorized putting baby oil on to get tan, I can’t say that I’ve been on my best behavior in the sun. Smart sun protection practices and taking care of my skin couldn’t have been further from my mind or certainly not a concern of mine.
Christen shared how cosmetic medicine clinics perform laser procedures to clear a number of skin abnormalities that could have evolved over time, like acne scarring, melasma, sun spots, discoloration, etc. She didn’t know this but, for the past year or so, I wouldn’t necessarily be insecure without makeup on but I had started to notice that my face just looks a bit ‘ruddier’ than it has in the past. I have more spots that are clearly not freckles based on their size and noticeably more redness – all of which are difficult to hide with makeup, even though I’ve given it many a good attempt.
I shared this with Christen and she encouraged me to consider getting a laser treatment because, as much as we like to think a cream or skincare treatment will take care of it, they really aren’t a curative option, at least not completely. She connected me with Dr. Schallen, from CMA Medicine in Jacksonville, and I spoke with her for a long time during our consultation, asking multiple questions and sharing my concerns. She was kind and patient. She never gave me the impression she had other patients to see and was so informative and knowledgeable about her passion, cosmetic medicine and laser treatments. She is very experienced and, as a nurse, I would never let someone I wasn’t sure about do any kind of procedure on me.
For my skin concerns and issues, in particular, Dr. Schallen recommended that we do three treatments with the PicoWay laser and then use Alastin skincare products to help expedite the healing process and provide your skin with nutrients that will help stimulate the production of collagen and elastin.
My hope in covering this experience and sharing this type of content is to shed a positive light on the cosmetic medicine industry. Dr. Schallen has been an emergency medicine physician for over 20 years – she actually knows a lot of the doctors I use to work with when I was a nurse – and, she said that her favorite thing about having also practiced cosmetic medicine [for the last 10 years] is that she gets to see a patient through the entire patient experience. She shared that she sees it as an honor to see people in their scariest moments in the emergency room and to help save their lives but, once she’s made the decision to admit them, she doesn’t see what happens to them [unless she discharges them, of course]. With cosmetic medicine, she said, she gets to see the patient through their entire experience – the beginning to the end – and these patients always walk out feeling more confident and happy with themselves. It’s so cool that she gets to see both sides and, with only having had one laser treatment, I can attest to how much better I feel about myself and it’s encouraged me to take even better care of myself in the future.
I personally believe we have a choice to make about what is best for us [i.e. autonomy] in terms of what makes us happy and what we want to do about our self-proclaimed imperfections medically, surgically, physically, etc. If you want to be more toned, work out a few times a week with some weights! Do you have some fine lines you want Botox to take care of? Go for it! Want to take care of those chin hairs for good? [Yes. Yes, I do.] Let me introduce you to laser hair removal! Do I think people go a little overboard with it? Sure. But, I just think we should be better to each other and let that person make that decision for themselves. And, also, the nurse in me thinks you should be under the counsel of a doctor who knows what is best for you and isn’t out to just tell you yes to a procedure so they can benefit financially. Choose your doctor wisely and they’ll give you the necessary information and professional opinion to help you make your decisions.
So, now that you have an idea as to how all of this came about and why I personally decided to have this done, I’ll get in to your questions! Here we go!
What is the procedure called, what does it treat and how does it work?
The procedure I had done was called the PicoWay Resolve, also called the Picosecond Holographic Fractional. It is a new fractional treatment capability on the advanced Picoway laser device for benign pigmented lesions, like freckles, age spots, sun spots, etc.
The PicoWay laser sends ultra-short pulses of concentrated high-power energy to the targeted pigmented particles on your face ensuring that the pigmentation is effectively treated, while the least amount of heat gets transferred into the skin. It essentially shatters the pigment into tiny, tiny particles that can easily be removed by the body. The dark spots eventually lift off of your face as superficial flakes.
What are the side effects?
Immediately after the procedure, you will have significant redness to the affected area. It will feel like a bad sunburn for about 20 minutes or so. Once that subsides, your pigmented lesions will appear much darker than normal and will be sensitive to touch for about 24 hours.
What is really important for me to take into consideration before agreeing to do have a cosmetic procedure?
• One of the most important things to take into consideration is WHO you are allowing to do the procedure that is going to solve the problem you’re looking to solve. In my case, I am allowing Dr. Schallen to take a laser to my face. I’m sorry, but that’s a scary thought, in my opinion! So, it’s really important that you take the time to get to know your physician, know they’re background and experience. Before my appointment with her, I did my own research on her medical experience and was extremely impressed. I spoke with a friend who knew her and her team personally as a way of gaining a character reference. I also went on CMA Medicine’s Facebook page and listened to some of the videos that they had featured of interviews she had done. Then, during my appointment, I asked a lot of questions and could tell she was someone who takes the entire patient’s medical history into consideration before making a decision about what would work best. She also has SO much experience with laser treatments, sits on multiple boards for these lasers and is an educator in this field.
If you are in the Jacksonville area, I highly recommend Dr. Schallen and her nurse practitioner, Korrie. They are both so pleasant and experienced in this field. They are offering my readers 15% off their procedure if you mention Haley or Sequins & Things when booking your appointment. Treatments offered at the clinic include laser hair removal, botox and filler placement, tattoo removal, body sculpting, platelet rich plasma treatment (which can be helpful in stimulating hair growth), and facial rejuvenation procedures to help restore tone & texture and reduce redness & pigmentation.
• Also, remember that what I had done might not necessarily be what you need to have done. My issues prior to the procedure were redness, a ruddy complexion, MANY sunspots and discoloration from years of sun exposure and poor use of sunscreen / sunblock. Keep an open mind when you go into your consultation appointment.
• It’s also important to ask about the different payment options. One thing that really impressed me about Dr. Schallen is how much more important it is to her to allow patients to have these procedures than it is to get their money immediately after. She offers so many payment plans and options to make this something that more people can consider. Obviously, you have to seriously look at your finances and be honest about whether this is something you can do right now but that’s why I would say it’s an important thing to consider before having this done.
How many treatments do I need to get?
The physician will determine how many treatments you will need to reverse the damage that is present on your skin and get in order to achieve the results you are looking for. Dr. Schallen said that I will be getting three treatments.
What does the down time look like?
For me, downtime has been minimal. I scheduled my first treatment on a day where I didn’t have a lot going on after it. I could go home and just hang out at home without having to wear makeup or go out in the sun. The next day, I had to shoot and was able to wear makeup to cover up the spots.
What does it feel like during the treatment?
My first treatment involved two short sessions by the PicoWay laser at different wavelengths. Both sessions felt essentially the same, like tiny rubber bands were being flicked against my face, but the second session was a little stronger and more uncomfortable because it was the session where Dr. Schallen was targeting each individual sunspot. The first session is featured in the Snapchat video below and the second session was unable to be filmed because the laser at that wavelength would break the camera on my phone.
Did it hurt?
No, it did not hurt. The second session was a little more uncomfortable than the first but I think the smell bothered me more than anything. It smells like cauterized skin. I know, that’s disgusting but … I know y’all will ask if I don’t mention it hah!
What does it feel like after the treatment?
It feels like a really bad sunburn but, it only lasts for about 20 minutes and they give you cool packs to put on your face.
Will it take away your freckles?
It can if the freckles are targeted by the laser per your request. Dr. Schallen is able to determine the difference between a freckle and a pigmented lesion caused by sun exposure or age so, unless you request she take your freckles away, she will stay away from them. I personally want to keep my freckles. I got them from my Mom, and because they’re not common, I’ve always liked that that was a feature of mine that sets me apart.
How much does this procedure cost?
I’m happy to talk about price because I think it’s something we all naturally wonder and, obviously, have to take into consideration, as mentioned above. The three treatments I am having done – all together – are around $1800. Then, you’ll also need to pay for skin care products to help expedite your healing process. I used the Alastin Skincare‘s Procedure Enhancement products [the Invasive System] and also purchased their HydraTint Pro-Mineral Broad Spectrum Sun Screen. It’s tinted so it offers you that protection but is a better sunscreen option to apply to your face before applying your foundation. Those products together are $400.
So, obviously, that’s very pricey for most people and I completely understand that. One of the purposes of this post is to educate and I hope that talking about price allows you to process that price, see what that means to you and then make a plan if this is something you really want to explore for yourself. Please don’t let price make you completely write your hope to have a procedure off. As mentioned before, if you do have this done at CMA Medicine, you will find that there are so many financing options to make this more reasonable and, after speaking with a professional in the field that has worked with multiple clinics throughout the Southeast, it seems other clinics do the same.
Here are some ways I can help you with the cost:
• Tell the ladies at CMA Medicine that Haley from Sequins & Things sent you to enjoy 15% off your first procedure
Is it covered by insurance?
Most cosmetic medicine procedures are NOT covered under insurance.
How should I take care of my skin after the procedure?
After the procedure, it’s important that you keep your face moist with the Alastin products and protected against the sun with broad spectrum sunblock.
In the morning, I wash my face with the Alastin Cleanser, then apply a few products in this sequence: Alastin Nectar, Alastin Moisturizer and, finally, my Alastin HydraTint Sunscreen.
At night, I take my makeup off and wash my face with the Alastin Cleanser again. Then, I apply more products in the following sequence: Alastin Nectar, Alastin Moisturizer then Alastin Occlusive Moisturizer. The occlusive moisturizer makes you feel like a glazed donut. It eventually dissolves into your skin but you’ll always feel a bit ‘sticky’, almost like you have Vasoline on your face.
Why are these products unique and why are they helpful?
These products are specifically formulated to elevate the results you see from your ablative procedure. They also strengthen the fragile state of your skin, minimizes the risk of complications and supports the recovery process.
Why would I get this treatment instead of a peel?
Peels are great for treating the superficial layer of the skin and a great maintenance treatment. Laser treatments, on the other hand, are able to penetrate the skin on a much deeper level to stimulate collagen and lighten sun spots. So, there’s really nothing wrong with getting either treatment. You just need to choose the treatment that is the best option for your skin.
Is this procedure similar to an IPL?
The PicoWay laser treatment is different from an IPL in that it stimulates collagen on a deeper level because it uses three different wavelengths of energy to target specific skin issues. An IPL uses a broader range of wavelengths. It is a good treatment in some cases but isn’t as safe on darker skin types and doesn’t stimulate collagen in the same way.
Can the PICO Way Laser treat my melasma?
Yes, it can treat and minimize the signs of melasma, however, your skin cells have great memory so, with continuous sun exposure and heat, melasma can return. Therefore, diligent skin care and sun block are necessary to prevent the recurrence of melasma.
Can you wear makeup immediately after you’ve gotten it done?
You can wear make up the next day. You can cover up the dark spots with foundation but you can likely still see them through it. Here is what I looked like the day after with makeup on:
Should I bring anything to the procedure on the day of?
A wide-brim hat for the ride home!
How does your skin feel the day after?
The pigmented lesions were sensitive to touch but, otherwise, my skin felt fine.
Do you really bring a hat with you everywhere?
I typically wear a hat when I go out after the procedure, yes, and I always have sunscreen on.
Applying SPF every 2 hours is unrealistic being that I wear a cream foundation. What do you suggest?
There is a makeup brand called Colorscience that offers beauty products that are good for your skin and provide protection against the sun. I am going to be applying their powder foundation with SPF20 over my makeup every two hours while I’m traveling. I HAVE to be consistent about reapplying because I’ll be outside most of the time and, especially in one of the places I’m visiting, there are a lot of white buildings and water so everything will reflect back on me so bringing a hat and being consistent about sun protection is SO important.
Will you still use TULA after your treatments are complete?
Absolutely! I still love Tula and stand behind products and everything I’ve said about their products in the past.
How long until you get your next treatment and how long until the one after that?
All treatments are four weeks apart so I will get my next one when I get back to Jacksonville in early May.
These are the photos that we took at CMA Medicine before the treatment.
It’s crazy how difficult it is to really see the damage until AFTER the laser treatment was performed, in my opinion!
This was the morning after the PicoWay laser treatment. Sorry the lighting isn’t very good. I think I got up and at ’em pretty early and that’s why I took them in this light, but you can see the sunspots are still very dark and pigmented.
But, on this morning, your skin, especially the pigmented lesions are pretty sensitive to touch, as they are directly after the procedure. Skincare is super important and keeping yourself out of the sun is, as well. Do NOT go outside without sunscreen and a hat.
This was the morning of Day 2. The sensitivity has decreased quite a bit at this point and so has the redness caused by the procedure.
This is the morning of Day 3. The lighting is so much better in the photos here and to follow! This is the day the dark pigmentations started to become more superficial and flaky.
This was the morning of Day 4 when the flakes begin to loosen and fall off.
This was the morning of Day 5. As you can see, quite a few of the smaller ones have fallen off and the bigger ones are next!
This was my skin on the morning of Day 6! It looks so dewy and refreshed with only a few little ones left to fall off! If these don’t make it seem like the treatment was worth it, I don’t know what would!
And, finally … this is what my face looked like the morning of Day 7, a week after the laser treatment. And, to think … I still have two treatments to go! I think this looks 100 times better than my skin did prior!
On the morning of my consultation, I shared on Snapchat that I would share this all with you and that I hoped it would be helpful, informative and educational. Please let me know if you think it has been! When I get back to the States, I will download the Snapchat video to add in to this post for you all to watch again or for anyone who may not have seen it! It’s really interesting and allows you to see what your experience would be like if you chose to do it, too!
Have a great day, guys! I’m off to enjoy ROMMMEEEEE 🙂 Love y’all! xo.