David’s Dermatology Adventure. The BBL Laser. What’s It Like?

My annual age-related cosmetic intervention involves zapping brown spots on my head. Here's what it's like and why I do it.

As someone who has spent decades looking at, studying, lighting and retouching faces, I am perhaps attuned to the shape, texture, and color of skin in a special way. I also don’t like the burden of extra routines in my day, so I have a rather simple approach to how I deal with my skin, although I see that being modified in the future. The main thing is, I enjoy an even-toned canvas of skin.

Day-to-Day Skincare Routine

My routine is I wash my face a couple of times a day with my favorite face wash. I mostly stay out of the sun, and when I am in sunlight, I am a sunblock aficionado. I sleep a lot, drink water like a thirsty camel and I won’t eat high-glycemic foods. I will probably up my skincare game more this year, but at the moment this is my day-to-day.

Removing Brown Spots

What bothers me the most are the brown spots and keratosis on my face and head. I find them distracting. About 10 years ago, my ninja dermatologist Dr. Adam Geyer at Tribeca Park Dermatology started to zap the occasional spot with his liquid nitrogen device. Then about 5 years ago, I started once a year getting Sciton BBL laser treatments.

The first time I did it I was a bit shy about it as it was my first “cosmetic” medical treatment. Something about my Protestant upbringing made me want to apologize in some way for my vanity. That quickly passed, thank you very much.

What Was It Like?

What was it like? Since I have very little hair on my head, and I have a rather large expanse of skin that gets treated, I was actually super excited at the possibility of having all that beautiful canvas made even-toned again. First, the medical tech comes in and questions me on what I am there for. There is a certain surprise that I want the full monty — face and head, not just a single spot. He dutifully goops the areas with a gel — it’s a bit chilly, but no problem.

Then the doctor comes in to do the zapping. This involves him focusing on exactly the distracting brown spot and zapping it. The amount of zap can be controlled, and this is important to know. One must be as tan free as possible when doing this so that the zap can be as high as possible without damaging the surrounding skin. I almost never get an actual tan, but I am a big fan of this natural self-tanner which, to my somewhat self-conscious annoyance, I had to go without for 4 weeks before the treatment. Pale skin, the shame of it all. 

“Can’t we numb this first?”

The head zapping is a bit jarring at first, but the tender areas on the face are much more so. Jarring as in me whimpering “can’t we numb this first?” as I jump with every face zap. This is no fun, and I think if it had gone on for any period of time I would be asking for the Valium. But the whole procedure, my magnificent dome and face are done in 15 minutes. I then give it 24 hours to recover, before I slather my favorite self-tanner all over my head and face. The tan effect brings up the underlying skin tone and the freckle zap marks become less noticeable.

An Annual Event

The aftereffect is that for a few days I had what looked like freckles wherever the laser was used. By the time we got to day 7, they had all but disappeared and the brown spots with them. Amazing. But what is the cost? My session was $500 and, to me, doing this once a year is acceptable. The change in my skin complexion is subtle, but noticeable to me. To anyone else, they probably think I look the same.

I Feel Better About How I Look

Why do I do this? It is quite simple: I feel better about how I look. Some may say doing any sort of age-related intervention is contrary to accepting the aging process. I am not in that camp. But I am also not into trying to look 30. It’s a difficult area — the whole ecosystem around the idea of how much self-maintenance is desirable or needed is fraught with troublesome judgments. Being a guy, it is vastly less complicated for me, although I am a guy who is somewhat public-facing and that does add a bit of additional consideration. The women who are media stars…wow, I can only imagine the sort of pressures and decisions that are in their daily lives. We all muddle through, making what we think are the best decisions we can based on what we know about ourselves and the available technology. Who knows, maybe next year it will be nip and tuck, or not. It’s unlikely but hard to predict, and if I do, I’ll let you know. 








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David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.


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