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Photo Facial vs. Laser Resurfacing: What’s a Photo Facial?

At OVME, two distinct services incorporate lasers to treat the skin—but they’ve got one major thing in common: “Lasers heat a target and cause it to be injured in a very controlled way,” explains OVME Director of Education and Development Elizabeth Weiler. “It’s similar to getting sore after a great workout: You’re breaking something down to make it stronger, to stimulate a repair response.” 

So, what are the differences? We asked Weiler to break down both treatments in this two-part series. First up: The OVME Photo Facial (formerly known as BBL). Here’s the scoop. 

What a Photo Facial Is

“BBL stands for BroadBand Light, which is a huge spectrum of very special light used to improve the skin. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not actually a laser,” Weiler says. “BBL is high-intensity light, generated by a xenon flash lamp. The light is directed into the skin to selectively heat certain chromophores—specifically browns and reds.” In layman’s terms? The light acts as a missile, seeking out targets like freckles, broken blood vessels and brown spots and destroying them to create a brighter, clearer and more even skin tone. The gentle heat created by the light also activates collagen, smoothing skin, reducing fine lines, and shrinking enlarged pores over time. “And we’re not just talking about reducing the appearance of pores,” Weiler says. “They really do physically shrink. It’s incredible.” 

Get this: “Stanford has studied the application of BBL technology for more that 20 years. They’re finding that having 2-4 treatments a year reverses the aging gene expressions—like software programming—that the skin cells read,” Weiler says. “It’s the closest thing we have to aging backward.”

photo facial

What a Photo Facial Treats

Photo Facial is best known for treating brown pigmentation and red vascularity/flushing in the skin—think sun damage, brown spots, red veins, broken capillaries, rosacea, freckles and acne anywhere on the body. “If you live on this planet, there’s a huge chance you would benefit from this treatment,” Weiler says. 

How Often Should You Get a Photo Facial?

If your goal is measurable improvements, try two or three treatments spaced a month apart for browns, age spots and pigmentation. For redness, flushing and capillaries, do three to five treatments spaced a month apart. (That being said, improvements can almost always be seen after one treatment.) Safety is built right into the lasers—the supersmart technology reads skin’s temperature every time it touches down and adjusts accordingly—so it’s hard to overdo.

What’s The Downtime?

Almost zilch with BBL—you can wear makeup and resume normal activities right away. “Depending how much sun damage you have, you might notice a ‘coffee grounds’ appearance after your treatment for up to a week,” Weiler says. “Essentially, freckles and age spots can look a bit darker than they were before treatment as this old pigment works its way up and out of your skin. It’s really subtle, and easy to cover with makeup.” Within about a week after treatment, you’ll be looking bright and even.

For the 411 on the second category of laser treatments—known as OVME Laser Resurfacing—click HERE

“Photo Facial is the closest thing we have to aging backward.”

Elizabeth Weiler

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