My experience with HALO™, the world’s first Hybrid Fractional Laser (HFL). This was my experience. Everyone is different, especially Asian skin. Please consult a doctor if you are thinking of having this treatment done.
My experience with HALO, the world’s first Hybrid Fractional Laser (HFL): This post has been updated several times with progress photos down at the bottom, so keep scrolling to see the progress. If you are new here, here’s my story and *WARNING* . . I’m showing some graphic images of my face after the procedure.
This was my experience. Yours, if you do this, may be different. You may have less bleeding. Just be warned of the graphic photos.
Here’s my story and *WARNING* . . I’m showing some graphic images of my face.
Before I start talking about the HALO procedure, I want to explain how I got to this point. In high school and college and into my 20’s, I spent a lot of time in the sun. In high school, I think I was even applying sun tan lotion so I could get darker. I didn’t use sun screen really at all.
Fast forward to 2014, a year or so after we had been living in Madison, Wisconsin, these sun spots, or melasma, popped out on my face for the first time. I had been wearing sun screen and taking care of my skin. I’ve always had pretty good skin and so I immediately went to dermatologist. He told me these were sun spots and all that sun damage I had put my skin through was all rising to the surface.
It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal but because of my face and my cheeks, the sun spots were smack dab in the center of my cheeks, the highest points on my face. I was trying to find a better photo but since these sun spots appeared on my face, I can’t find a photo of my face from back then, where I am not wearing make-up.
I personally decided to have HALO done because I wanted these spots on my face lighter and I wanted to be able to run around with just tinted sunscreen. I hate the amount of make-up I have to wear to cover these up. This was my own personal decision.
This photo was taken on Tuesday, 9/24/2019, right before the HALO procedure and I have numbing gel on my face. My entire face was numb and puffy at this point. If you look at my cheeks, you can see the dark sun spots. This was my main, and only reason, for having the HALO treatment done.
Back in 2014, after a few months pass, I decide to get my sun spots lasered off. I do very little research and go to Transformations, a part of UW Health. I tell the doctor to laser them off and so he does. I did the BBL Broadband Light laser. I think I did 2-3 treatments and my sun spots actually end up getting worse, and darker.
Had I done my research, I would have known to start with topical creams and ointments first. I should have done that and then a laser treatment. So, from there, I begin a 4 to 5 year time period where I am doing anything and everything to my face. Hydroquinone, retinols, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, I even did a VI Peel (which was great but . .). With sun spots, they will inevitably get lighter in the winter and come back and get darker in the summer. So, it was just an on-going process of taking better care of my skin and managing them. I was also eating right, drinking lots of water and wearing sunscreen and a hat all the time. This is why I wear hats all the time when I’m out in the sun. Even if I am just checking the mail, I am wearing a hat and sunscreen.
Fast forward to maybe a year ago in 2018, my friend introduces me to the office of Daniel Tresley in Illinois. It is here where I meet Tae Kim, a Surgical Coordinator in the office. She is Korean and had gone through similar skin problems. She was someone who would be my skin advocate. If you are in the Chicago area, I highly recommend Daniel Tresley!!!
My Experience with HALO
“By its very nature, Asian skin has an increased amount of melanin (the pigment in skin), and the cells that make melanin tend to be more sensitive to any type of inflammation or injury. Because Asian skin becomes more inflamed with deeper acne pustules and papules, patients are often left with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which refers to increased pigmentation or dark spots at the sites of inflammation.”
I started using products from their office which helped to maintain my skin and my skin was looking better. And then I went to Hawaii lats summer, and my sun spots got darker. Even with sunscreen and a hat, they still got darker. I had been using all of their products and we discussed doing some kind of laser to speed things up a little. Right before we moved to Philadelphia, I had one laser treatment at Dr. Tresley’s office. I wanted to continue the treatment to my skin and he recommended HALO.
HALO™, the world’s first Hybrid Fractional Laser (HFL), is an innovative procedure that offers deep dermal rejuvenation that is fully customizable to treat a wide range of concerns without the long recovery period of more aggressive lasers. I had the procedure done on a Tuesday and my face starting peeling Saturday night and the results I show below are from Sunday, only 5 to 6 days after the procedure. Again, this is my experience. If you do this, yours may be different.
I watched this video on YouTube. And as you can see, my face looked 1,000 times different. And I’ll tell you why.
Upon moving to PA, I immediately looked for an office here that could do the HALO Laser Treatment. I found Dr. Louis P. Bucky’s office. Tara Avidar, a Clinical Aesthetician, performed the procedure on me. I went in once for a consultation and she gave me an Intensive Pigment Eraser, made by PCA Skin, to use on my face for a couple of weeks before the treatment. Because of my sun spots, I focused on my cheeks and pretty much just used the Intensive Pigment Eraser on my cheeks only.
Because I used this product, this caused my cheeks to ooze during and for a couple of days after the treatment. I’ll show you photos below.
My Experience with HALO
I had my HALO Laser Treatment done on Tuesday, 9/24, 2019. Because I watched that video above on YouTube, I knew the procedure was going to hurt. I arrived and asked for the strongest numbing cream they had. They give it to me and I applied my own numbing cream. You arrive, apply your own numbing cream and sit in the waiting room for about 10 minutes before you are taken back to the treatment room. Because I had asked for the strongest numbing cream, it actually made my cheeks really red.
I was super nervous and was anticipating the pain, so I asked for a sedative. They don’t give sedatives but they did have laughing gas (similar to what you are given at the dentist) to put me at ease. The procedure is fairly quick depending on how deep they need to go but it’s super painful. Honestly, even with the numbing cream and the laughing gas, which did not kick in until the end, it basically feels like someone is pricking and burning your face.
There are other videos on YouTube that show the entire procedure.
After we are finished, I look in the mirror and it doesn’t look that bad initially. I’m given a bag full of products: a pain gel (also to help deter any infections), a face soap and a intensive healing cream. Tara also warns me that my face will get very swollen and puffy. I get home and discover blood and ooze coming out of my face.
Again, this happened to me because of the Intensive Pigment Eraser for the couple of weeks leading up to the procedure on my cheeks. I spend the afternoon in a lot of pain. My face felt like it was on fire. I also spent the afternoon and evening dabbing my face because the ooze kept coming out. My immediate thoughts are “why the hell did I do this to myself?”
My experience with HALO™
The next morning, Day 2, my face was super red, still swollen and still oozing.
By Day 3 and 4, MENDS start to appear. MENDS are microscopic wounds from the laser treatment. They contain large amounts of the skin- darkening pigment melanin. Because there are so many MENDS, they can make the skin look bronzed and small areas appear crusted. You can’t touch them or scratch them off. You can see them on my chin, nose and upper lip.
The redness goes away after a couple of days. For the first two days, I was applying the gel excessively and gently washing my face twice a day. By Day 3, I started using the healing cream and I was also applying this cream very generously. Basically, any time my face felt dry, I applied the healing cream.
Late Saturday night, Day 5, I was gently washing my face and splashing warm water on my face and everything just started peeling off on my cheeks.
Here is Sunday afternoon, Day 6:
There are still some areas that still need to slough off, and my skin should continue to get better and look great in a month or so. I can’t go out in the sun for the next 2 months. Sunscreen and hats will be my best friends. and I am going to workout for the first time tomorrow, Monday.
If you are thinking about having this procedure done, do it on a week where you don’t have to do anything. There’s no way I could have gone into an office to go to work. I only went outside (with a towel wrapped around my face; not even joking), to walk Madeline to the bus stop. I also obviously didn’t workout or sweat. You need to do it during a week where you have nothing going on.
Again, my results are supposed to get better and better. I will follow-up with photos at the end of October and in December. If you have any questions for me, please leave me a comment below. If you have a question for a doctor or medical professional, look for one in your area.
I highly recommend Tara from Dr. Louis P. Bucky’s office. I texted her photos everyday and she was available to answer all of my questions.
Am I happy I did this? Yes
Would I do this again? Probably, but not for another 6 months
Will I need to do this again? Probably, we’ll see! (Keep reading for my recent updates down below)
Update from October 2020:
My experience with HALO™: Update from 10/11/2019
Hello all: writing this update on 10/11/2019, not even 3 weeks after the HALO procedure. My sun spots have come back. Maybe not as dark as they were before but definitely darker now than the photos below. I’m Korean and so my skin is a bit trickier. My issue might also be hormonal so I am getting my levels checked. Also, I feel like heat affects my sun spots and I workout quite a bit (something I am not willing to give up). So, the good news: my skin is super smooth but for me, the HALO did not do what I wanted (lighten my spots). Again, for me, it could be hormonal.
I have received a lot of great advice. If the melasma is not hormonal, I am going to look into other treatments. My advice for everyone: if you are looking into getting something done, or the same HALO treatment done on your face, talk to your doctor, do your research and good luck to us all!
Update from February 2020:
2/21/2020: This is what my face looks like now, photo above. I took this photo yesterday with my iPhone and I have no makeup on. The spots/patches are still here but lighter. Since October, I have tried some Rodan + Fields Reverse lighting products, I went back to the “So Bright Skin Brightening Therapy” pads (with kojic acid, arbutin and emblica, among other ingredients) from Daniel Tresley which I love and think have helped. If you are in the Chicago area, I cannot recommend their office enough! I love them. And the 2.0 Lytera Pigment Correcting Serum from Skin Medica. I’ve been using the pads and this serum every night.
My goal now is to either maintain this or get them lighter. My friend, Allie, just recommended another product to me which I will start soon. I will keep you guys posted. Read more about this below.
Update from February 2020:
Do I regret paying for the HALO treatment? Not at all. Even though the spots came back, I feel like it did help my skin’s texture and appearance overall. Would I do it again? Probably not because it hurt like crazy. I am all for doing what we can to help make ourselves look our best. You do you. If you want to have plastic surgery, go for it. If you want to do chemical peels or get botox, I support you.
The thing is, we now have so many great advancements in laser technology and so many great skilled people out there to help. Is a certain treatment for you? Well, I don’t know. I am not a trained professional obviously. If you are looking to do the HALO, or some other treatment, consult a medical professional.
For me, since I am Korean and Asian skin is trickier, I want to consult medical professionals who are trained on Asian skin. Until then, I will just continue to use products and creams on my face at home.
I’ll end this update with this: Where I went wrong: is starting with a laser treatment right off the bat back in 2014/2015. I should have started with face creams and topical stuff. I think because I did the laser treatments first, that set me back and made things worse.
My experience with HALO™
Update from July 2020, with Before and After photos:
My experience with HALO™
Latest, most recent update: 7/22/2020: This is what my face looks like now on the left, compared to 2/21/2020. I took this photo the other day with my iPhone and I have no makeup on. The spots/patches are still here but significantly lighter. I have been using the spot cream from Musely since the end of February. I think this spot cream, along with not going outside very much (we’ve been quarantined; hello pandemic March-June 2020) and now having to wear face masks all the time outdoors has helped me.
If you try Musely, which I do recommend: for me, when I get hot or overheated (during and after a workout), or if I am outside and it’s hot, if I am not wearing make-up, my cheeks will get pretty red and rosy. The spot cream is packed with hydroquinone and powerful skin brightening ingredients. I do believe this spot cream has helped me so it’s definitely worth checking out.
If you’ve made it all the way down to the end of this post, congrats! My plan now is just to maintain what I have now and continue caring for my skin, using the spot cream, sun screen and limiting my sun exposure by wearing sunscreen and hats.
I will probably not do another HALO treatment anytime soon. Right now, it’s hard to get any facial treatments, or procedures anyway but I am okay with where my face is at and will just try to maintain with topical creams. I am writing a post about my skin care routine so stay tuned for that.
Until then, stay hydrated, wear sunscreen and take care of yourselves!