What Happened to the UPC Tattoo?

When I first designed my website, I shopped online for a photo of a tattoo for my homepage.  Some of you will remember the photo a young woman’s neck bearing a universal product code (UPC) symbol.  That photo remained on my website for a couple of years until I recently changed it after I discovered what the UPC meant in the realm of human trafficking.  UPC symbols are a form of branding placed on people who have been enslaved by their perpetrators in order to claim ownership.

Human trafficking is likened to be a form of modern day slavery.  Servitude is often in the form of prostitution, but can also be forced labor or even the removal of organs.

Whereas some victims are young runaways born in the U.S. who are sexually exploited by a pimp, other victims are brought from outside of the U.S. and forced into servitude to repay debts incurred by entry into the United States.  I don’t think it should matter which side you stand on with regard to deportation/immigration.  Human trafficking is inhumane.  We all need to do our part to combat this horrible crime.

And, yes, it is occurring in our own communities without our knowledge.  How can we recognize it?  Here are the indicators from the website of Homeland Security:

Human trafficking indicators include:

  • Does the victim possess identification and travel documents? If not, who has control of these documents?
  • Did the victim travel to a destination country for a specific job or purpose and is victim engaged in different employment than expected?
  • Is victim forced to perform sexual acts as part of employment?
  • Is the victim a juvenile engaged in commercial sex?
  • Does the victim owe money to an employer or does the employer hold wages?
  • Did the employer instruct the victim on what to say to law enforcement or immigration officials?
  • Can the victim freely leave employment or the situation?
  • Are there guards at work/harboring site or video cameras to monitor and ensure no one escapes?
  • Does the victim have freedom of movement? Can they freely contact family and friends? Can they socialize or attend religious services?

The number to report suspicious activity is:  1-866-DHS-2-ICE

While the photo has disappeared from my website, the research I did in investigating these tattoos has not disappeared from my thoughts.  I have a hard time wrapping my brain around how such heinous treatment of people can occur in our communities.  Therefore, I am going to start removing these UPC symbol tattoos free of charge in my office.  If you, or someone you know, need my laser services to help free the external manifestation of this heinous crime done against them, please call me.

Individual Pricing Versus Package Pricing: Your Cosmetic Purchase Dilemma

I am always impressed by the savvy aesthetic shopper; maybe because I consider myself a well-educated shopper who is always on the lookout for a true deal.  In that vein, don’t get me started about couponing or we will be talking all day!

Many people who come into my office for a free laser consultation, whether for tattoo removal, hair removal, skin revitalization or body sculpting, etc., have done their homework, usually research on the internet, but oftentimes they are well informed because they’ve gotten a consultation/pricing done at another shop.  As savvy consumers, they are comparison shopping to see where they can get the most bang for their buck.

Over the past 12 years doing free laser consultations, I’ve discovered from talking to patients that my office is one of the few that will allow you to do individual treatment pricing, to “pay as you go” so to speak; most other shops try to rope you into a package for a set number of treatments, otherwise they are done talking to you.  Many laser centers take on the attitude of buy now and buy big or you are wasting their time.  Admittedly, at first glance, the package pricing can save you serious cash, but only if the laser center upholds their end of the agreement and gives you the agreed upon treatments.  I will also sell packages at a discount at my office to generate goodwill for agreeing to be a loyal customer.

However, the problem I see with packages from these larger laser center franchises is that some of them have gone out of business with clients’ packages still in progress.  These spas sold laser packages to the unsuspecting consumers and then left the clients uncompensated when the spas shut their doors and declared bankruptcy.  In many cases, the clients are referred to another center, but the already purchased package is not honored at the other shop.  The result is a lot of angry laser customers.

Let’s face it, when you put your hard earned money forward to do these aesthetic procedures you want not only results, but you want the number of treatments that you purchased.  When I do my free laser consultation with you, I will generally offer you an individual treatment price, but if I know that the result you want will require more than one treatment, I will put together a package for discounted pricing.  I try to avoid you having to prepay for any more than a year’s worth of treatments at a time, not because I think that I’ll go out of business by then, but because I don’t see myself as your bank.

I had one of my patients ask to give me money each month until she had collected enough to purchase a laser package from me.  She said that she couldn’t trust herself to put aside the money and not touch it.  I politely refused her offer to be her “banker”.  My role in my office is to be the provider of your care, whether it be medical or laser.  I will not serve as your banker, and I don’t really think you should let any laser center serve that role either.

When you ask about pricing from me or any other laser center, be sure that you will get all the treatments you paid for before you swipe your credit card.  That’s just being a savvy shopper.

How Weight Loss and Body Contouring Can Impact Your Health

I’ve been doing body contouring on patients with my new SculpSure laser for several months now, and one of the questions that always seems to come up is can this body contouring laser help a person with weight loss?

My answer to this question is both no and yes.  First, the laser is only helping you lose pockets of fat tissue, so it’s not overall contributing to weight loss, nor does it actually make you healthier.  The laser is not designed to make you lose weight, and you must actually be around a BMI of 30 or under in order for the laser to work optimally. 

Here’s the Yes part of my answer:   Most of us have a hard time staying on a diet or exercise plan, especially when we see little change from the efforts we’ve been making to exercise regularly and eat less.  If we don’t see the scale budge downward or the waist belt loosen a bit, we get frustrated and stop following the diet/exercise regimen.  This loss of motivation is where the body contouring laser can help.  Most of us like to see RESULTS and seeing them motivates us to continue. So, allowing that laser treatment to smooth that hip curve or diminish that bulge in your belly is motivating to continue the healthier lifestyle you resolved to live as part of your new year’s resolutions.  So what, if you get a little help from a laser to achieve your goals?  If laser body sculpting can get you motivated and on your way to a better you, why not do it?

Even better, the fat cells lost by the laser do not get replaced; they are permanently gone.  So, if you maintain your weight, the size of the remaining fat cells remain constant in size, leaving less fat in the area post laser.  Better yet, if you lose weight after doing the laser body sculpting, not only do you lose the fat cells from lasering but the remaining fat cells shrink from having less lipid in them because of your weight loss, thereby making you even smaller in that area.

The Ideal Deal

 

Is your laser hair removal package less than an ideal deal?  Some spas advertise by making consumers think they are getting a tremendous deal by getting 50-60% off of the spa’s regular prices.  In truth, these spas raise their prices so that they can reduce them with these savings to give you the impression that you are getting a bargain.  Do your homework and comparison shop for your laser treatment.  I’ll save you the phone call to find out my prices for laser hair removal by listing them below.  And, by the way, I haven’t changed them since I started doing laser hair removal 11 years ago.

Keep in mind that Groupon looks like a good deal initially.  But will the spa continue the pricing for you after completing your Groupon deal, or does your pricing revert to the unaffordable pricing they first discounted to lure you in?  Don’t be fooled; be savvy and smart with your money; that is the true way to get your ideal deal.

 

Dr. O’Young’s Laser Hair Removal Prices

Underarms                               $125/tx

Lip                                              $99/tx

Chin                                           $125/tx

Lip & Chin                                 $150/tx

Legs (upper or lower)             $299/tx

Full Legs and Feet                   $499/tx

Full Back and Shoulders         $499/tx

Prices quoted are for single treatments.  You’ll need on average 6-8 consecutive treatments every 4-6 weeks to be initially treated.  Touch ups may be needed months or years later.  Packages of buy 4 get 5 are available if you pay up front at the first visit.  On the 6th treatment of that body area, that area becomes half price forever in my office.

Example:  Underarms-  Package of 5 purchased at 1st visit = $500/pkg.  On 6th underarm treatment and all later underarm treatments, price is $62.50

Why Your Insurance Does Not Pay for Your Cosmetic Laser Procedure

Many of my potential laser clients have asked why their insurance does not pay for their cosmetic laser procedure.  They ask that since they are coming to a doctor’s office for the treatment, shouldn’t all of this be covered by health insurance?

But just like car insurance where your insurance won’t pay for you to outfit your vehicle with spiffy spinner wheels, nor will it pay for your vehicle’s custom paint job, your health insurance doesn’t pay for you to improve your appearance with laser skin ablation, hair removal, or tattoo removal.  I often ask tattoo removal patients when they ask this question, whether their insurance paid the tattoo artist to adorn their skin with that tattoo they are wanting removed now.  Their answer is 100% “no”.

Generally, items like cosmetic laser or custom paint jobs that improve the appearance of you or your car, will not be covered by your insurance.   Health insurance doesn’t care if you look good; it’s only designed to cover treatment to improve or maintain your health.   That said, you can and should make the decision to be responsible for your own appearance.  Whether it involves gentle soap and daily moisturizer on your skin, or laser treatments to rid yourself of unsightly hair growing in odd places or funky age spots that have seemingly just happened over time, you are the one ultimately responsible for your appearance and the only one to be motivated to do something about it.  

 

My laser practice is here to help.  Consultations are free with no obligation.  Call 618 236-7555 to schedule an appointment.

Successful Laser Treatment Requires Your Commitment

Commitment is required to experience the full benefit of cosmetic laser treatments.

When you are considering laser treatments, whether for hair reduction, tattoo removal or something else, you need to be committed and adhere to the time frequencies of your treatments and the number of treatments required in order to gain the full benefit for your money.  I have seen patients who want to try a single treatment and spend their hard earned money in the hope that with one laser treatment their unwanted ink or unwanted hair is gone forever, for good.  Never will one laser treatment accomplish this feat.

Ideally, these people want the magic pill (or in this case, the magic laser) that resolves the tattoo or hair in one fell swoop.   That experience would be wonderful and miraculous, but unfortunately, instantaneous results do not happen.  In the case of hair removal, hair grows in cycles and laser only takes care of that cycle that is growing at the time of your treatment.  For tattoo removal, the ink in your skin is only shattered in part each time we treat you with the laser.  Your body then removes the ink particles by cellular digestion (phagocytosis by macrophages) and there it sits and waits to be eliminated from your body.

So, realize that while you are special person, you are not the unique case that will resolve your issue in one laser treatment. When you choose laser, commit to your treatments.  You’ll ultimately be glad you did because your long term result will be successful hair reduction or tattoo disappearance.

Better Tattoo Removal Clearance: Another Good Reason to Quit Smoking

Just about everyone knows the risk of lung cancer with smoking.  But did you know that tattoo ink clearance is slower for smokers than for nonsmokers?  A study performed in 2012, found that the chance of achieving removal after 10 laser sessions was decreased by 69.7% in smokers compared to nonsmokers. Why? Because smoking suppresses the capability of your immune cells, the macrophages, to eat up your tattoo ink and remove it from the body via your lymphatic system.

So, maximize your efforts in getting your tattoo removed:  Keep your immune system healthy by not smoking. 

And, if you need more convincing to not smoke, I’m going to share two other compelling reasons not to smoke that are gynecologic.

First, women who smoke are twice as likely to get cervical cancer.  Tobacco byproducts have been found in the cervical mucus of women who smoke; the substances damage the DNA of the cervical cells and may contribute to the development of cervical cancer.  Moreover, the causative agent of cervical cancer HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) sticks around as an infection in smokers longer than in nonsmokers.

Second, smoking has been linked to an earlier menopause.  Research shows that smokers have twice the risk of experiencing hot flashes than nonsmokers.  Additionally, a variation of five genes linked to estrogen metabolism have been identified in some women that leads to a susceptibility toward certain environmental toxins, including cigarette smoke.  Women who have these gene variants have 21 times the risk of hot flashes than nonsmokers.  Secondhand smoke is likely to contribute to the frequency and severity of hot flashes.

So, there you have it.  Smoking is not doing you, nor your tattoo removal, nor your Pap smear, nor your hot flashes, any good.  I know habits are hard to kick.  If you are a woman, and want to quit, I have successfully prescribed Wellbutrin and Chantix for many of my gynecology patients.  Call me for an appointment. 618-236-7555

 

 

 

 

 

IPL Hair Removal vs Laser Hair Removal

When you are shopping for laser hair removal, know what type of treatment you are paying for.  Different shops, be they physician offices or spas, offer different light based treatments and they tout them all as “Laser Hair Removal” to unsuspecting consumers. 

IPL stands for “intense pulse light” and is not a laser but rather as is implied, a mixture of wavelengths.  A true laser is a single wavelength of light.  Whereas, a single wavelength has a specific target, IPL has many targets due to its many wavelengths of light.  IPL causes greater scatter in the skin as it strikes the skin and therefore is ideal for treating pigmented lesions like freckling and facial blood vessels.  IPL is not so ideal on hair because of this scattering effect.  IPL can cause hair reduction but usually on lighter skinned patients with dark hair and after many more treatments than using a true laser.  Additionally, IPL treatments with its diffuse wavelengths heat up the skin more because energy travels into several different targets like pigment and vessels, and therefore, IPL results in more painful treatments than pure laser. 

So, IPL is both a less effective laser hair removal treatment than laser and more painful than a true laser. Why would a spa sell you something like that?  Many shops are going to sell you what they have available with regard to light treatments.  If they only have an IPL machine, that’s what they will tell you is the best treatment.  But, you, as they savvy customer, will have done your homework, and that is why you are reading my blog!

Here are the facts:

  • If you are light skinned, and untanned, the best wavelength for hair removal is going to be an Alexandrite (aka 755nm wavelength) laser.

  • If you are tanned or darker complexioned, your laser of choice for hair removal is going to be an Nd:YAG (aka 1064nm wavelength) laser.

  • Darker skinned and tanned skinned individuals will burn if treated with an IPL.

  • Do not believe anyone who claims to be able to get rid of lighter colored hair like white, red, blond or gray.  If you have light colored hair, I am sorry but you are not a candidate for laser hair removal. 

  • IPL is generally less expensively priced because you will require more treatments toward becoming hair-free.  I have seen many consults who claim their previous “laser” treatment did not work.  I believe that many of them had IPL treatments rather than laser.  

Do yourself a favor, get it done right the first time; it’s your money. 

Laser Hair Removal = Permanent Hair Reduction

 

Laser hair removal is a procedure that really works.  Most patients are successful at reducing their unwanted hair growth with laser hair removal and most tolerate the procedure well with minimal discomfort and no topical anesthetic.  It’s important to remember, however, that the result of laser hair removal results is permanent hair reduction, not every last hair gone. 

To understand why you can’t achieve total hairlessness in the area that is treated, let’s discuss the physiology of hair growth and how the laser “attacks” the hair follicle.  Hair grows from a hair follicle which includes a hair shaft containing support cells called basal cells which generate the hair.  The part of the hair that shows above the skin surface is not living.  The hair in the shaft is the only living part of the hair.   Only some of your hair follicles are in the actively growing cycle at any given time.  Laser can only “attack” the hair when it is actively growing.  Everyone has 6 to 8 hair cycles; a new cycle starts to actively grow every 4 to 6 weeks.  Therefore, we use the laser to attack your actively growing hair every 4 to 6 weeks for 6 to 8 treatments.  Additional treatments or later touch up treatments may be required to achieve the desired reduction and maintain it.

Lasers “see” pigment.  The laser cannot see white, red, blond or grey hair.  That’s why we can’t treat people with those hair colors. The laser will see dark colored hairs on the surface of the skin and the laser light will descend in the hair shaft using the pigment of the hair to trek its way down, “killing” some of the basal cells in that follicle.  With less basal cells, it will be harder for that follicle to make a thick hair.  If all of the basal cells die, the hair will not grow from that follicle; if only some the basal cells remain, the hair will be thinner.   There is no way of knowing how many basal cells will remain in an individual follicle after 6 or 8 treatments with the laser.  Everyone is different.  Generally, everyone will experience some reduction with the laser treatments done at the appropriate interval.

In order for the laser to work, the dark hair at the surface needs to be just a stubble.  If you have recently plucked, used depilatory creams, or waxed in the past 2 weeks, the hair is ripped off below the surface and having a laser treatment before the hair resurfaces above the skin will not give you an optimal treatment.  Therefore, we ask you to shave only during your treatments, with the last shaving of the hair approximately 8 hours prior to treatment.  Longer hair will result in burning of the hair as the laser strikes it, and your treatment will be more uncomfortable.  Additionally, dying the hair a darker color at the skin surface if it is blonde, red, white or grey, does not make the laser work.  The laser uses the dark hair pigment to shimmy down the hair shaft, and if the hair is not dark in color all of the way down the hair shaft, the laser light will stop short of the dyed hair at the surface and not kill the basal cells.

I think understanding the physiology behind hair growth enables you to decide whether or not laser hair reduction will work for you.   Call me if you want to get started.

Skin spots making you older than you are? Try doctor-performed laser treatments!

As we age, the appearance of our skin changes.  The smooth, flawless skin we are born with gives way to imperfections that demonstrate the life we have led.  While some people may wear their wrinkles and spots and scars with pride, many of us don’t like what time has done to our appearance, and we seek to change it.

While nothing can restore your skin to baby skin perfect again, laser treatments can help improve the appearance of some of these imperfections.

Take pigmentary changes, for example.  Uneven skin pigment results from a variety of insults to your skin including sun damage, resulting in freckles and solar lentigines, acne, scarring, and melasma.   The cause of the pigment spots on your face (sun damage, inflammation reactions as with acne/trauma, hormonal changes) may be different from your friend’s pigment spots, so the laser treatment to correct the problem for each individual person is different. 

One laser does not correct all pigment problems, and that’s why I have 4 (yes, four) to choose from when it comes to treating your pigment concerns.   Additionally, targeting the correct layer of skin that the pigment resides in is an important decision in determining the correct laser to use, and knowing what laser wavelengths can be safely used on the various skin complexions (Fitzpatrick skin types) is also important to determine prior to getting any laser treatment.

Many spas will try to sell you on a certain brand of laser which will be touted to cure all of your skin concerns.  Keep in mind that one laser does not do everything for everybody.   I would love to get my hands on that too good to be true device, but it does not exist.  Don’t be roped into believing everything you see advertised.

Your safety is always my first concern when you become my laser patient.  That’s why I am the only one to do your laser treatments.  Understanding the technology and using it medically appropriately avoids undesirable outcomes.

We all want to look our best.  Let’s work together on it.  Call me today.