Laser Patch Test Protocol | The Gallery of Cosmetic Surgery

Laser procedures are commonly performed in both surgical and non-surgical forms. Lasers are not always safe for all skin tones, and some treatments may be riskier for certain people. To ensure a safe and optimal outcome, a patch test is often performed on these patients. Lasers can be risky for certain skin tones, but some are safe for everyone. The Gallery of Cosmetic Surgery offers a premier laser patch test protocol to protect patient safety.

Overview: What Is A Patch Test?

A patch test is a way to determine if your skin will have an adverse reaction to a particular treatment. Many different kinds of treatments may involve a patch test such as chemical peels, laser or light procedures, and even some prescription topical medications. If you do not have an unexpected or adverse reaction, your provider will likely determine you can proceed with treatment.

Patch tests can also serve as peace of mind for patients. Even if you are not in a high risk group, some patients will undergo a patch test anyway. This is because it relieves the worry of a complication or allergic reaction.

Patch Test Area

Most patch tests must be performed in the area the prospective treatment will take place. For most people when it comes to IPL or similar procedures, this is the face. While this may seem worrying, our master estheticians perform the patch test on a small area of skin with little visibility. A common patch test area for the face is behind the ear. This way—if any pigmentation issues arise—they are well hidden and not overly noticeable.

Patients Who Need A Patch Test

Patients who require a patch before treatment may include:

  • Anyone with a Fitzpatrick skin tone above III
  • Those taking immune suppressant medications
  • People prone to scarring
  • People with especially sensitive skin
  • Anyone worried about adverse reactions

People with high Fitzpatrick skin tones are required to undergo a patch test to ensure they do not hyper pigment or experience other adverse reactions. However, anyone can undergo a patch test protocol for laser treatments.

Benefits & Risks

Performing a laser patch test is a precautionary measure to ensure safe and effective treatment. However, since the laser is used, there are still benefits and risks.

The benefits of performing a laser patch test include:

  • Determining your skin’s reaction to laser treatments
  • Ensuring candidacy for certain treatments
  • Peace of mind for both provider and patient
  • Gain a better understanding of how treatments may affect your skin
  • Ability to undergo treatments for pigmentation concerns, fine lines and wrinkles, and overall skin quality
  • Little to no pain
  • Performed over several weeks to gauge the long term effects of the procedure
  • Quick
  • Patch test performed in low visibility area of the treatment area

Risks of a laser patch test are similar to those of the treatment itself. Some of the risks of a patch test include:

  • Localized negative reaction that becomes highly visible
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • More severe reaction than the average positive result

The risks of a laser spot test are minimal because the treatment is performed in an area that is not easily visible. A patch test spot is also highly monitored and you stay in good contact with your master esthetician.

Non-Surgical Preparations

Before both the laser procedure and the patch test, your master esthetician will likely recommend that you undergo some non-surgical preparations. The exact preparations you need to take will vary based on your skin tone, the products you use, and the procedure you plan to undergo.

First, if you use a retinoid, you will likely need to stop taking it before the patch test and treatment. These can cause negative reactions and make the skin more sensitive to any light-based treatment. Additionally, other products or medications may also either need to be stopped or you will need clearance from your prescribing physician. This could include medications such as immuno-suppressants, oral acne medications, or chemotherapy drugs.

Secondly, if you are undergoing a laser patch test due to your Fitzpatrick skin tone, your master esthetician will likely advise that you use brightening cream for four weeks, alongside mild skincare and SPF. Brightening cream does not actually lighten your skin tone at the prescribed dosage, but it does help inactivate melanin cells so that the laser does not recognize them in the same way.

Finally, you will need to limit sun exposure before and after treatment. This is especially important if using brightening cream. However, avoiding unprotected and direct sunlight is ideal for anyone about to undergo laser treatment of any kind.

The Patch Test

After undergoing the appropriate preparations, you will come into the office. Your master esthetician will briefly explain the patch test, ensure you have been following the protocol thus far, and provide any applicable aftercare instructions. Also, it is preferred that you come into the office without makeup—at least in the area to be patch tested.

Next, your master esthetician will clean the area of skin used for the patch test. Depending on the laser tested, they may apply a small amount of ultrasound gel. This is typical with IPL. Your master esthetician will then administer the laser in the patch test area. They will observe the immediate reaction. Your master esthetician will then provide you with instructions on how to monitor the test spot for the next two weeks.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Tell If A Patch Test Is Positive?

A positive patch test may look different depending on the laser. Some redness immediately after the laser is administered is completely normal. However, if over the next two weeks, the redness worsens or does not resolve, this could potentially be a positive result. Other examples of possible positive results include:

  • Hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation
  • Raised welts or scarring
  • Undue damage to the skin
  • Prolonged side effects

Minor redness or swelling can be normal for a few days following the test. However, it should not interfere with your life too much. Your master esthetician will also discuss what may constitute a positive result based on your specific treatment.

If your patch test is positive, your master esthetician will likely recommend not moving forward with treatment. They can usually recommend other treatments to address your concerns such as microneedling.

Is A Patch Test Worth It?

Yes, a patch test is almost always worth it. If a positive result occurs, it is better if it happens on only a small, hidden patch of skin than on your entire face. It can also be more easily treated in this case as well. If in doubt about how your skin may react, it is best to perform a patch test.

How Accurate Is Skin Patch Testing?

As long as the patch test is performed in the prospective treatment area, it is accurate. Skin pigment, type, and damage vary across the body. Therefore, the patch test needs to be performed on the part of the body that will be treated.

How Much Is A Patch Test?

The exact cost of a laser patch test will depend on the protocol you require. The following are the prices for the individual components.

  • $70 prescription strength brightening cream
  • $25 test spot application fee

If you require both, the total fee for your laser spot test treatment is $95 on top of the cost of the treatment.

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The Best Laser Treatments In Bellevue & Kirkland

The master estheticians at The Gallery of Cosmetic Surgery underwent years of education and expertise to bridge the gap between medicine and aesthetics. Pulling the best treatments and techniques from both, our master estheticians help beautify and treat your skin using medical-grade techniques. We only want to provide our patients with the ideal treatments for them. Performing patch tests allows our master estheticians to ensure they can. The Gallery of Cosmetic Surgery performs the best laser patch test in Bellevue and Kirkland.

The Gallery of Cosmetic Surgery is a plastic surgery clinic and medical spa located near Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, WA. Perfectly situated to serve both the Eastside communities of Bellevue and Kirkland as well as Seattle, The Gallery of Cosmetic Surgery has served Washington State patients for over a decade.

To learn more and schedule a free consultation with a master esthetician, call us at 425-775-3561. You can also reach out online via chat, contact form, or Price Simulator.