Let There Be Light

Dr. Stephen Greenberg, arguably one of the most visible cosmetic surgeons on Long Island, recently opened Glisten Skin & Injection Spa, a medi-spa to complement his cosmetic surgery practice in Woodbury. At Glisten, you can try non-invasive procedures, such as laser resurfacing, skin tightening, scar removal and dermabrasion in an elegant and serene spa atmosphere.

I had some dark spots on my face that were the result of past sun damage and was searching for a more aggressive plan than face creams to eliminate them. It was time to check out this new medi-spa. I was warmly greeted by Medical Aesthetician Christy Brown who explained my impending treatment.

“IPL is Intense Pulsed Light that is used in skin rejuvenation to provide clearance of pigmented and vascular lesions,” she said, offering examples of culprits such as sun damage, freckles, uneven pigmentation, rosacea, facial spider veins and hemangiomas (abnormal buildup of blood vessels). “IPL leaves our clients with clearer, more attractive skin, which can be noticed after only one or two treatments.”

I settled onto the wide, comfortable treatment table and asked if it would hurt. Christy compared it to the snap of a rubber band: “You know how it feels to have someone hold a rubber band to your skin, pull it back, and then let go? That quick zap…it kind of feels like that. Or if someone flicked you with a hot match head.”

Okay, that didn’t sound too bad. I’ve endured worse in the name of beauty. Bring it on.

First, Christy pointed out the three spots on the right side of my face she was going to focus on and gave me protective eye gear. It’s important to note that whenever any light treatment is used, the eyes should always be protected.

Christy first pulsed the tool so I could hear what it would sound like and be prepared when she began work on my face. I really appreciated that. I am always happier with as much knowledge in advance as possible. Fear of the unknown can turn any experience into a tense situation.

Then she placed the tool on my face and told me she was about to zap me. I was ready. And it wasn’t so bad. It felt exactly as she had said it would. She zapped those areas several times and each time she held a cool compress on the spot afterwards.

Christy gave me a calming mask when the treatment was completed and I took a look. The treated areas were a little raised, crusty and reddish, but there really was no discomfort or pain at that point. The next day, sure enough, I noticed one spot was gone completely and the other two were significantly less noticable.

She said the face, chest, hands, back, arms and legs could be treated, but she did warn that IPL is not suitable for dark or suntanned skin.

Each IPL session takes about 30-45 minutes and is typically done in four to six treatments, four weeks apart, with very little down time. Pigmented lesions flake and slough off within two to three days, and vascular lesions take about 10 to 14 days.

IPL was very effective in eliminating my brown spots, but what about the rest of my skin? I had heard about LED treatments and how this technology for skincare was developed from research done by top scientists at NASA to speed wound healing. I headed over to R. J. West in Huntington Village to investigate.

R. J. West has a storefront for products and makeup application, but there is also a small spa that offers waxing, facials, microdermabrasion and LED Phototherapy.

Esthetician Erica Hoeft was very friendly and eager to share her passion for this treatment, explaining the three colors of LED as she led me to one of the two treatment rooms.

“Each of the three wavelengths and light spectrums offer different benefits. Magenta reduces the appearance of acne due to purifying properties and calms and reduces redness. It’s great after microdermabrasion or extractions,” she explained. “The photo-lightening effect from green light reduces pigmentation, such as age spots and freckles. It also provides a smooth, radiant glow.”

We decided the option for me was red, which boosts cellular metabolism, promoting circulation, and provides stimulating fibroblasts that help increase collagen and elastin production to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

I settled onto one of the most ergonomically comfortable treatment tables I’d ever had the pleasure to rest on and Erica began the first of three stages. For the prep stage, she used a microdermabrasion treatment “to remove dead skin cells, increasing the light’s ability to penetrate the skin,” she explained. “Then a decongesting product is applied, which helps soften the sebum and open pores.”

After protecting my eyes, Erica applied micro-currents, which penetrate deep into the dermis to stimulate collagen production in conjunction with the light.

“The third stage is for both muscle stimulation and increased penetration of serum and skincare creams,” Erica said as she applied galvanic micro-currents to my face. “This stage has a lifting and firming effect on the muscle, providing a non-surgical facelift. It tones and retrains the facial muscles to restore them to their initial shape, helping to lift and contour the face and slow the aging process.”

Finally, Erica applied three different serums to my skin, which was now ready to fully reap their benefits. When I looked in the mirror, I was surprised to actually see a difference: Slightly but definitely firmer and more even-toned skin, after just the one treatment.

There was no pain or discomfort at all during the procedure and no downtime. It was nearly as relaxing as a facial and the entire treatment lasted just under an hour. Erica recommended a series of sessions twice a week for five weeks; the results last about three months. A monthly visit is generally advised for maintenance. Erica said that LED therapy is safe and painless with no reported side effects, but it is not recommended for those with epilepsy or who are photo-allergic.

Always consult with your doctor before trying these or any new treatments.

toni munna

Toni Munna is a native Long Islander who is always on the lookout for products that fulfill their promise to firm, hydrate, slim, soothe, de-wrinkle, plump, relax, de-stress, and just generally make you look and feel better. She a firm believer that wellness enhances beauty and has been testing beauty products and reviewing spas for you since the fall of 2006. You can reach her with questions at toni@lipulse.com.