Laser and Light-based Energy Guide

About lasers and light-based therapies

There is considerable marketing to consumers on the potential benefits of laser and light-based therapies. Your aesthetic surgeon can guide you through the various options. The list below, created by Aesthetic Society members, defines some common terms often used by laser and light manufacturers and how you should interpret their meaning:

Downtime

Indicates the expected time after which a patient can resume his or her normal lifestyle.

Essentially no downtime:
Less than 24 hours

Minimal downtime:
24 to 72 hours

Moderate downtime:**
Three to seven days

Significant downtime:
more than seven days

Bruising

Ecchymosis (The passage of blood from ruptured blood vessels into subcutaneous tissue, marked by a purple discoloration of the skin) that is visible on the skin without concealer applied.

Essentially no bruising:
No ecchymosis/bruising, but patients may have some immediate change in skin tone

Minimal bruising:
Ecchymosis that resolves in less than one week

Moderate bruising:
Ecchymosis that resolves in one to two weeks

Significant bruising:
Ecchymosis that takes more than two weeks to resolve

Redness

Skin demonstrating increased redness and noticeable without concealer or makeup applied.

Essentially none:
Skin returns to normal (pretreatment or improved) coloring in less than 24 hours, but patients may have some immediate change in skin tone

Minimal:
Hyperemia that resolves in one to three days

Moderate:
Hyperemia that resolves in four to seven days

Significant:
Hyperemia that takes more than seven days to resolve

Swelling

Obvious swelling in the treated areas and sometimes in surrounding locations.

Essentially none:
Swelling that resolves in less than three days

Minimal:
Swelling that resolves in three to seven days

Moderate:
Swelling that resolves in eight to 14 days

Significant:
Swelling takes more than 14 days to resolve

Pain

Any discomfort/pain associated with treatment.

Essentially none:
No pretreatment medication, local anesthesia during treatment, or posttreatment pain management is required; over-the-counter medications may be applied

Minimal pain:
Requires pretreatment oral medications (prescriptions), topical agents and/or skin cooling during treatment, and/or post treatment prescriptions for pain management

Moderate pain:
Same requirements as “minimal pain” but with pretreatment local anesthesia needed to obtain anticipated results

Significant pain:
Same requirements as “minimal pain” but with pretreatment intravenous sedatives or general anesthesia needed to obtain anticipated clinical results