What is BBL?
BBL (Broadband Light) is a no-downtime, non-ablative procedure that utilizes pulsed broadband light and photo-thermal energy to reduce the visible signs of aging and restore a more even, youthful complexion. NYC board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Schwartz offers two types of BBL treatments – Corrective BBL to repair the visible effects of sun damage and Forever Young BBL to delay skin aging and maintain your skin’s improvement after Corrective BBL or laser resurfacing treatments.
Corrective BBL Treatment
Corrective BBL treats skin conditions commonly associated with sun damage and aging, including age spots, freckles, and small surface vessels. Any area of the body can be treated with the most common being those that receive the most sun exposure – the face, neck, chest, back, and hands.
Forever Young BBL Treatment
Forever Young BBL treatments promote and maintain the appearance of healthy, youthful skin by stimulating changes at a molecular level. As demonstrated in a study conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine, Forever Young BBL induces changes in gene expression patterns of aged skin that cause it to function like younger skin rather than simply mimic the appearance of it.
What’s the difference between IPL, Photofacial, and BBL?
Many practices advertise IPL and Photofacial treatments, but these generic terms don’t indicate the brand or quality of medical device being used to provide your treatment. Let’s demystify these seemingly redundant terms and explain what sets the BBL apart from the rest.
IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light – a term used to describe any aesthetic device that uses a broad-spectrum flash lamp, not a laser, to improve the appearance of sun damaged skin.
Photofacial is a generic term for any IPL treatment used to improve the appearance of sun damage on the face.
BBL stands for Broadband Light – a proprietary pulsed-light technology developed by Sciton. Dr. Schwartz exclusively uses Sciton’s BBL system at his practice to provide all pulsed-light treatments. In contrast to other IPL devices, Sciton’s BBL handpiece incorporates a large sapphire cooling plate that keeps the surface of the skin within a safe and comfortable temperature range throughout treatment. This minimizes patient discomfort and allows higher energies to be used, yielding greater results in fewer treatment sessions.
What skin conditions can BBL treat?
BBL is a safe and versatile technology that can effectively treat a broad range of skin conditions on nearly any area of the body. Dr. Schwartz frequently uses BBL in conjunction with other procedures to achieve synergistic effects, allowing him to offer patients a degree of improvement that cannot be matched by any single treatment.
BBL can treat:
- Sun damage, age spots, freckles and birthmarks
- Red spots, spider veins, and vascular lesions
- Rosacea and diffused redness
- Unwanted hair
- Active acne
- Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
How does the BBL work?
BBL utilizes broadband flash lamps to produce rapid pulses of energy in the form visible light and heat. The broad spectral output spans the visible light spectrum, beginning with blue light at 420nm, and extends well into the near infrared zone at 1400nm. Different bands of light within this range interact with the three main chromophores (molecules that absorb light) in our body – water, hemoglobin (red blood cells), and melanin (pigment).
To target only the desired chromophore, such as the hemoglobin in a spider vessel, one of seven specially-coated glass Smart Filters is inserted into the BBL handpiece. The filters work by blocking the transmission of unnecessary wavelengths, only allowing a small percentage of the flash lamps full output to pass through.
As the filtered light travels through the skin, it is only absorbed by the target chromophore, where it is instantly converted to heat, inflicting a small thermal injury. This, in turn, stimulates the body’s natural wound healing mechanisms to repair the damaged tissue by replacing it with new, healthy tissue.
What should I expect before, during, and after my BBL Treatment?
Prior to your BBL treatment, Dr. Schwartz will conduct a complete assessment of your skin, including a Visia Complexion Analysis, which uses multi-spectral imaging technology to reveal UV damage below the skin’s surface. Dr. Schwartz will then develop a custom tailored treatment plan to address your unique needs and treatment goals.
To ensure you get the most out of each BBL treatment, you will be asked to refrain from excess sun exposure and the use of tanning beds or sunless tanning sprays for a minimum of two weeks before and after your treatment. Some patients may also require pre-treatment with a topical skin lightener to maximize treatment efficacy.
At the start of your procedure, a thin layer of clear gel will be applied to the treatment area. This serves to couple the light between the BBL’s sapphire tip and the skin and to lubricate the contact surfaces for added comfort. As the treatment tip glides across the skin, it will emit rapid pulses of light. Thanks to the BBL’s integrated sapphire chill plate, the treatment is quite comfortable, with the majority of patients describing the sensation as “warm.” The use of a topical anesthetic is generally not needed, however, Dr. Schwartz is happy to provide numbing upon patient request.
BBL is a no-downtime procedure, meaning that you can resume your daily activities, including the application of makeup and sunscreen, immediately after treatment. Over the next 2 – 3 days, pigmented lesions will gradually darken and begin to breakup into small flecks that can easily be concealed with makeup. On day 5 – 7 these flecks will begin to exfoliate away via the skin’s normal turnover and shedding cycle and completely disappear.
Non-facial areas such as the arms, hands, and chest can take a few days longer to fully shed the pigment. Dr. Schwartz generally recommends treating these areas a few weeks prior to a big event in order to allow them time to fully exfoliate before an important date.
Vascular lesions might appear slightly darker in the first few days after treatment, but they will slowly lighten as the body absorbs the damaged vessels. For the first 48 – 72 hours after treatment, patients are asked to avoid strenuous activities, such as exercise, hot tubs, long soaks in the shower or bath, or any trigger that could cause the face to flush. During this time, the goal is to keep the vessel closed, and any activity that increases blood flow could re-cannulate the vessel and reduce the efficacy of the treatment.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Mark H. Schwartz or to find out more about our BBL therapy treatments.