BroadBand Light device may help keep skin looking young


"On a day when I'm working outside, I unpack the van and I'm out in the sun," said Kyra Pehrson.

Pehrson loves her job as a landscape designer, but she says being out in the sun all day is an occupational hazard that's taken a toll on her skin.

"I just have a lot of freckles especially around the perimeter of my face and around my eyes. I've got freckles and also rosacea," said Pehrson.

We accompanied Pehrson as she was hoping to repair some of that sun damage with the help of Los Gatos dermatologist Patrick Bitter Jr., M.D. Bitter helped develop the popular FotoFacial more than a decade ago. He says current versions now employ bursts of BroadBand Light, known as BBL.

"So BBL, as it interacts with the skin, when it's treating skin, will lessen redness. It will fade away pigmented age spots and sun spots," said Bitter.

While the technology has produced consistent topical results over the years, Bitter says a recent study conducted with colleagues at Stanford University's department of dermatology, also documented changes underneath the skin.

Using biopsies, the team examined the expression of genes associated with the aging of skin cells. It found that more than half took on the characteristics of genes in younger skin cells, in patients receiving regular BroadBand Light treatments.

"What we didn't know is what exactly was happening in the skin. We knew the light was heating skin cells and it was heating skin, but we really didn't know what was happening to skin cells. We now know that what BBL does is it slows down skin aging," said Bitter.

Before and after photos supplied by manufacturer, Palo Alto's Sciton show the cosmetic changes from the treatments, including a lightening of age spots and clearing ruddy complexions. Bitter believes the new data suggests the benefits could be longer term as well.

"This is the closest that we've come to the fountain of youth for any kind of treatment for skin," said Bitter.

For Pehrson, the prospect of reversing the cosmetic damage from the sun is still the priority.

"Just to even out the skin tone and maybe even tighten it up, but the evenness is the biggest thing," said Pehrson.

The treatment typically cost about $500 for the initial session and follow-ups run in the $200 to $300 range.

Written and produced by Tim Didion

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