Using broadband light to treat skin conditions, with Dr Jessica Wang from Ocean Cosmetics
Aesthetic treatments using light are becoming known as extremely effective ways to treat a range of skin conditions including ageing. Dr Jessica Wang from Ocean Cosmetics is somewhat of an expert on light treatments and I was lucky enough to sit down and have a chat with her about why they are so effective.
Trish: Good morning, listeners. I’m here today, again, it’s Trish from Transforming bodies, and today, we’re gonna have a chat with Dr Jessica Wang. And she’s actually a cosmetic physician who works in Ocean Cosmetics and they’re WA and so she works with Dr Gina who we’ve spoken to before. And we just recently attended the same conference which was the Non-Surgical Symposium. And I sat in on a session that Jessica was at as well and it was about BBL. And I was just blown away. I mean, I’d heard of it before but didn’t really know what it was and when I actually heard what it can actually treat and do, I was quite flabbergasted for want of another word.
So, today, we’ve invited Dr Wang along and I’m really happy she’s joined us today, just to give us a bit of insight and explain it to you also. Welcome, Dr Wang.
Dr Jessica Wang: Thank you, Trish.
Trish: Thanks for joining us today. So, tell us, BBL, what does it actually stand for?
Dr Jessica Wang: BBL stands for broadband light. It’s using a light energy source to treat skin conditions.
Trish: Okay, so how does it work? Is there a … can you explain for us how it actually works?
Dr Jessica Wang: It’s using spectrums of light. So in the whole spectrums of light, you’ve got different wavelengths. Some of the wavelengths are colours that we can see, so you can see like the colour rainbow… you know, the red, blue, yellow. And then there are spectrums of light which is not visible to us – in the infrared zones. Our skin has got water and it has pigmentation so sometimes it’s dark pigments such as in the hair or blood vessels or red blemish, red spots – so the light gets absorbed by different targets in the skin. And you can then help breaking up certain skin pigments or help heating up blood vessels and help destroying certain things that’s on the skin that we don’t want them to be there.
Trish: Okay. So basically, the light energy that’s produced by the BBL just kind of heats up the layers of the skin and then that can help you to treat lots of things such as…?
Dr Jessica Wang: Such as inflammatory conditions – acnes, when it’s very red, it can help with rosacea, a condition called rosacea is where people suffer a lot of redness on their face. Or blood vessels, little vessels popped up that you don’t want them to be there. It can also treat photo damage over time with the sun when … in Australia, obviously, people love outdoor lifestyle so swimming and tennis and so on creates a lot of pigmentations and even wrinkles over time. It does help improve these skin conditions.
Trish: Okay, so I’ve seen some before and afters with freckles as well ’cause it can be used for that as well, is that right?
Dr Jessica Wang: Yes, definitely. So freckles, some people are born with a bit of freckles but most of the time, the freckles come with time with the combination of genetic reasons and UV damage and environment. So yeah, freckles definitely can improve ’cause they’re quite superficial skin pigments.
Trish: So, say for example, if my husband, say for example, he’s getting sun spots, he’s a bit of a water baby, so he gets sun spots and the dark spots which kind of naturally come, I guess. They’re called age spots, I guess. Is it okay for that as well?
Dr Jessica Wang: Yeah, it would be perfect for that.
Trish: All right.
Dr Jessica Wang: It would work very well for that. It does require one to three treatments on average. It depends on the skin type so often when the pigments are very superficial you can almost completely treat it. If the pigments are a little bit deeper, you can fade it and definitely make it look more homogenous, smoother.
Trish: Okay. So tell me, is it kind of the same as IPL, basically? Is BBL very similar to IPL, intense pulsed light?
Dr Jessica Wang: Yes, BBL is actually an intense pulse light technology (IPL) but it’s a very powerful IPL device. It’s different slightly in terms of majority of the IPL machines in the salon that you see are more … it’s slightly easier to use and they use a spectrum of red, yellow. So they cluster your light into red, yellow or green, that’s with the majority of devices. With BBL, you can actually vary the wavelength itself individually. So instead of red with the spectrums of 430 to 530, they do have a 420, 560. So the wavelengths are fairly individual so it’s easier for physician to pick and choose, there’s more variety. You can vary the temperature, you can vary the energy output. So in a dermatology, well-trained hand, it’s a very powerful machine.
Trish: Okay, so basically it sounds like it’s similar to an IPL on steroids but you’ve gotta make sure it’s in the hands of someone who really knows how to use it properly so you get your settings right, depending on what treatment the patient needs to have done.
Dr Jessica Wang: That’s correct. And the techniques. So what it allows you to do is a lot more than what a general IPL machine can do.
Trish: Okay, got it. So, look, I’ve read or I heard during the presentation that it helps with vascular lesions. Do you guys do anything like that at all?
Dr Jessica Wang: Yes, it works really well on vascular lesions.
Trish: So what is that? So for those patients out there that don’t know what that is, it’s kind of just pretty much the small blood vessels that show up in your legs or your face, around your nose.
Dr Jessica Wang: That’s correct, that’s correct. So most of the time, we do tend to treat the face, chest, neck and the hand with the vascular lesion. So the vascular lesions are little red blood vessels, they either look like a tiny little cherry or like rivers of one to two millimetre blood vessels, coming up on the face. And it can come out because of some damage or lifestyle, what we eat and drink. It can come out genetically and they pop up and they can really be quite distracting.
Trish: Yeah, of course. And one of the other things that I noticed on the presentation that we were listening to which was pretty good, wasn’t it? When I saw that BBL could do, i was like, “What?”
Dr Jessica Wang: Yes.
Trish: So was firming the skin. Can you tell us how that works?
Dr Jessica Wang: Burning the skin?
Trish: No, sorry, firming. You know, how it can tighten and firm the skin.
Dr Jessica Wang: Oh, firming the skin, yes.
Dr Jessica Wang: With firming the skin, they do have a skin type device or wavelength that’s kind of in the infrared and using pulses of light to heat up the derma. So our skins is divided into … you’ve got your first layer with epiderma, then you’ve got your second layer with dermis. The skin type technology is cooling the surface but allow to heat up the dermis to such a high temperature, sufficient thermo temperature to stimulate our collagen and contract our collagen. So it, over time, with the treatments, you get a tighter skin, more firming of the skin.
Trish: Okay. So, I heard someone the other day refer to it as like a facial, like a photo … not an electric facial but kind of like a laser facial. Can it be looked at like that?
Dr Jessica Wang: Like a laser.
Trish: Well, it’s not laser. Not laser actually, it’s IPL. But someone said to me, “Oh, it’s like having like an all over laser treatment on your skin.”
Dr Jessica Wang: Yes, pretty much.
Trish: Like a facial, like a laser facial, she explained it.
Dr Jessica Wang: It’s like a laser facials and it’s not painful at all. It’s more of a warm heat, massage on your face if you like. And it really does firming the machine, I mean, at the end of the day, there are a lot of machines out there but broadband light, not only it’s powerful, it’s very versatile and it treats a variety of skin conditions. And the best thing is, it’s because it’s non ablative, it’s not painful. It is in some ways, like that laser facials, it’s a warm and produce really good results.
Trish: Yeah, and the other … so the parts of the body that you can treat is you’ve got your face, also on the back of the hands to rejuvenate the skin on the hands, isn’t it?
Dr Jessica Wang: That’s correct, yes. Hands, it’s really what … in our world, we call them a second face. People do look after their face very well but hands often gives it away. So hands is also a now increasingly popular place to treat.
Trish: All right. So tell us, so how does it work, so if someone comes in for a treatment, they’ll say, “Oh, look, my freckles are bothering me or I’ve got these spots or I want tighter skin.” And you say, “Okay, no problems, I think the BBL be perfect for you.” So they come in, so do you use a numbing cream or do you just … what’s the prep for someone coming in to have it done?
Dr Jessica Wang: Okay, obviously initially after the consult and they understand what the procedure is, the numbing cream is optional with BBL and like I said, because it’s relatively not painful, I would say in my patients field, 60, 70% of patients usually have a treatment without any numbing. 30, 40% of my patients will require numbing if they find it a little bit hot.
Majority of the patients that require numbing probably my teenagers. Teenagers, their skin’s a bit more sensitive and then also depends on the area. Certain areas are more sensitive on the parts of your body, then the numbing will be a good idea.
Trish: Yeah. Look, I loved watching the photos as well for the acne. So I see with the teenagers, so there’s … like we go through and you think, “Oh, well acne is just part of growing up,” but the thing is, there’s solutions and there’s things that you can do to treat it. They don’t have to put up with it. And I saw the results that you can achieve on acne skin. Do you treat many teenagers or young adults or even old adults I guess with acne and how do you find the results?
Dr Jessica Wang: Yes, the results, it’s quite amazing. Majority for acne, I work in the dermatology environments as well. So majority of the acnes seen by the dermatologist, obviously on various different medications already and so I tend to treat acne when they ready for the scar, rather than in the initial redness. But if I can get my hands on those patients with redness, they get better within one or two treatments, that’s just amazing with the light technology.
Trish: Okay. So what do you mean with redness, like when you can get a hold on-
Dr Jessica Wang: Initially, they can have bumps, fairly red. So they work well with that. Or if they into the scar stage but the scars are red, then that’s also … BBL is also very good with that.
Trish: Oh, okay. And what about if the acne is really pussy and moist and all that, is it still okay to treat?
Dr Jessica Wang: If they’re very pussy, if they’re getting into a very moderate to severe pussy stage, the light therapy alone is not adequate. I do believe that these people also do require medical treatment. That light therapy help them reduce the inflammations. So if they get onto medication, whether it’s antibiotics or topical, it will still take them a couple months to get them under control. That’s where the light therapy, the BBL comes in to help reduce that anti-inflammatory stage. But when someone gets into that very severe pussy stage, you do need some internal control as well, as well as looking at their dietary.
Trish: Of course. So true. And so if someone comes to have a treatment, and I suppose the treatment time varies depending on what they want, of course, if you wanted your whole face done, it would be quicker than the back … I mean, maybe not. Is there a general time for treatment or is-
Dr Jessica Wang: Yes, yes. So the actual treatment under the light is not long but obviously, beforehand, you clean the patient’s face. If there a numbing cream, you have to clean them off and after care with some ice packs. So the average time for a face, probably 20 to 30 minutes, even though they might be under the light really for about 10, 15 minutes. Depends on what protocol that we use.
So certain treatment, if their first treatment, we might only do a more conservative protocol and then as it gets stronger, it will take more time. So that can varies about half an hour on average for a face. When it start involving a full legs and thighs, then it can take an hour or even an hour and a half.
Trish: Oh, so what would someone have done on their legs and thighs?
Dr Jessica Wang: Hair removal is a very common condition. So people who come in, complaining of excessive hairs or unwanted hair. BBL is a great device to treat.
Trish: Okay. And with the hair, can it treat fair hair as well as dark hair or just dark hair?
Dr Jessica Wang: Well, it treats hairs with colour in it. So if it’s white hair, it won’t be able to treat. If it’s very dark hair, it treats very well. So if you’ve got dark hair and light skin, so if the contrast of the colour of the hair and the skin is big, it treats very well. If the hair itself is light, blonde, then the success rate is slightly lower, it just means that you need more treatment to treat that area.
Trish: Got it, got it. So say, someone has their treatment, what should they … you know, what can happen after the treatment? Is there any downtime, could they go back to work, would they be red or would they be sore? Tell us a bit about the recovery, like how long would it take them to recover?
Dr Jessica Wang: Downtime is very, very minimal. Majority of patients coming, they might, straight after the treatment, their face just appears a little bit red. Very, very rarely that there might be a little bit puffy, if it’s their first treatment and depends on what conditions their face has been treated for. But majority of patients, just very mildly red. That pretty much settle down within a few hours. And most of my patient pop in eight o’clock in the morning, treat and put on a little bit of makeup and go back straight to work.
Trish: Okay, so you can do it, it’s not gonna … you’re not gonna have to lock yourself up for a couple of days or anything like that.
Dr Jessica Wang: No, no. Unless someone’s face is very, very severely photodamaged. If they’re very photodamaged, then you can get some darkening of the pigments but nothing makeup won’t hide, really. Your face might look a bit dirty for a few days or up to a week but the downtime is quite small compared to some of the more ablative technology of laser treatment.
Trish: Yeah, okay. So if you’re having a treatment and they’re fixing the pigment, your skin might go dark at first, that’s part of the healing process. And then after a few days, like a week or so, is that right?
Dr Jessica Wang: That’s correct, yes.
Trish: It’ll just kind of disappear and all the colour will … it will just go to one nice, even tone colour.
Dr Jessica Wang: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Trish: Yeah, I’ve been looking at some of the before and afters, they just look amazing. So tell me, is there any side effects? Is there any contraindications for people who shouldn’t have BBL? ‘Cause I know, myself, I’m quite a dark skin tone, I think I’m a Fitzpatrick four in the scale of one to six so I’m quite dark. So if I go and have treatment, they’re usually pretty frightened to do anything like IPL on me for that reason that my skin is like that. So is there any … because IPL, I don’t know if that’s the same to BBL but is there any contraindications like that for the BBL?
Dr Jessica Wang: Yes. Well, if someone is on certain type of medication, they can make their skin more sun sensitive than … we might delay the treatment. Not necessarily not treating them but we might wait until they completed their medication treatment. So something like gall treatment which we don’t see very often for previous arthritic treatments and is the other big one. It can make the skin quite photosensitive.
Certain antibiotics can also make skin very sensitive. That doesn’t mean we can’t completely treat them, we just have to go with very lower, a bit more conservative setting to start with to make sure their skin can handle it.
The other thing, you have mentioned about skin type. I’ve actually treat the whole spectrum, type one to type six. Again, with type six, you have to treat them with respect and go slow, go low and see how they can tolerate. If they can tolerate and it actually does work. So even with type six, with BBL, it’s one thing that you actually can treat. They might say, “Look,” … majority of time, the company will probably tell you not, to be very cautious with but certain type, with their hairs, using very low setting, it is still fairly effective. If not, we can move them on to another laser machine. So there are some relative contraindications rather than completely absolute contraindications.
Trish: Yeah. It’s good to know that as well. And the thing is, if you’re going to see a good practitioner, you know, they’re not gonna treat … coming to visit someone at like Ocean Cosmetics, you’re not going to get the backdoor people that are gonna just treat you with whatever they got when you shouldn’t have that treatment. So, you know, you gotta make sure you go to someone who knows what they’re doing such as yourselves.
Dr Jessica Wang: Yes, yeah. And you know, if a skin is not suited for BBL because of the condition or skin type, the physician or the therapist, I’m sure they will tell you. So if I had someone, type six in and the hair just is dark, where there is no way the machine can differentiate the difference, then it’s not going to work.
Trish: Of course, of course. So, tell me, how many treatments are needed. So I know it’s gonna be different with everything but what’s the normal protocol of treatments that are required?
Dr Jessica Wang: With general photorejuvenation, with pigmentations, generally, it depends on whether you start conservative or start real hard. Probably one to three with the pigmentations. With the redness, my experience is, if you’re treating someone with rosacea, they often need probably about three, to start with, about six weeks apart. And they might need ongoing maintenance treatment because it’s not a cure treatment as such. With hair, it really does vary. Majority of time, anywhere between about three to six treatment and again, certain area and certain culture background skin requires maintenance treatments as well.
Trish: Yeah, and that’s one thing I found, I have a few girlfriends that get it done and what it is, it’s just a part of a regular maintenance treatment, like once a year or whatever.
Dr Jessica Wang: That’s correct.
Trish: They’ll go and have-
Dr Jessica Wang: It’s like a once a year maintenance treatment. I often said that it’s like in a room. If you clean the room, and even if you don’t use it, it will still be dusty, you still need to maintain it and clean that room. Our skin is an ongoing, dynamic process with time. So, with BBL, it helped improving the skin condition but it’s not going to make time stand still. So you do still need to put some work in and have a yearly maintenance.
Trish: Exactly. And I suppose you gotta look after it in a certain way in between as well. I mean, obviously, you’re gonna tell them what to do.
Dr Jessica Wang: That’s correct. And one thing we came back from the symposium, Dr Patrick Bitter, very well-known dermatologist in the USA, he’s shown that in Stanford University, they’ve even studied looking at gene regulations using broadband light therapy. So it upregulates tumour suppression genes, it upregulate anti aging genes and longevity genes. So as you have your broadband light treatments, once a year, twice a year is what these study have shown over a period of time, your skin actually improves. And this is where we’re not sure how the light technology help regulate the genes, scientifically, but that’s the results.
Trish: Yeah, his talks were fantastic. And I mean, he showed his skin as well which he’s obviously obsessed with BBL and he uses it all the time and it looked fantastic, didn’t it?
Dr Jessica Wang: Yes, very. Yeah.
Trish: Awesome. So is there anything else that you wanna add to the listeners that are out there about when you’re looking at having BBL or when you’re looking for a practitioner, just something that they should either look out for or make sure you go to. You know, how can you find someone that’s properly qualified to use the machine or any just sort of take away that you can suggest to the listeners that might be listening out there at the moment that are interested in having the BBL?
Dr Jessica Wang: I think with BBL machine itself, it’s a very good machine. So I think clinic, it’s a very expensive machine. So I think the clinic that owns the machine, I’m pretty sure they would have gone through the effort of going through training. Ask the doctors about how long they’ve used it, sometimes I have patient coming in and bombard me with a list of questions about which machines you’ve got, how long have you been working on it, can you please give me … I mean, they can sound intrusive but that’s patients’ reassurance. So I think if you treat it with a place that’s … look at their qualifications, look at how long they’ve been working with it. And look at some before and after photos that they have done.
Trish: Yeah, that’s true. And from the patient’s point of view, you wanna make sure that your money … apart from the fact that you’re spending the money, you don’t wanna come away scarred or anything, too. So you wanna ask those invasive questions sometimes as well.
Dr Jessica Wang: Yes, yeah. And then just make sure, have a good chat with the physicians about what the results that can be achieved and what are the condition they can treat. And just discuss all the ins and outs, exchange views and then make a consent decisions.
Trish: Yeah, it’s always important to be informed, absolutely. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today, Doctor Wang, that’s been really, really helpful.
Dr Jessica Wang: My pleasure.
Trish: Thank you so much. So listeners, if you’re out there and you’re in WA and it’s something that you think you might be considering or even if you’re not WA, you can see Doctor Gina and Doctor Jessica Wang at Ocean Cosmetics. And you can either google them or just drop us an email to email@example.com. So thanks, Dr Wang, have a great day.
Dr Jessica Wang: You too, thank you.
This post has been originally posted on Plastic Surgery Hub.