Bringing Laser & Light Therapies Out of the Dark

Posted by Stephanie Duttenhaver on

Sapelo Skin Care began as a personal journey to understand the science and technology of emerging skin rejuvenation.  Our founders, Stephanie and Cindy, were curious about the light and laser treatments becoming prevalent in the growing anti-aging culture. They asked: Are these therapies safe? Effective? What are the long-term benefits and possible consequences? 

As a board-certified radiation oncologist, I have extensive knowledge on treating the body with radiation - including its benefits, side effects and complications. So it was with great interest that I delved into light and laser therapies for skin care.

Shedding light on lasers

We know that ultraviolet radiation, mostly from the sun, is the light source responsible for injuring living tissue and is harmful to our skin. We also know that radiation used to treat cancer is harmful and requires careful management by a board-certified specialist.  But what about other sources of light? Multiple skin rejuvenation therapies use light sources, especially lasers, which are simply a beam of very intense light.

Both radiation for cancer treatment and lasers are forms of energy in the electromagnetic spectrum shown below. A laser is a beam of very intense light in the ultraviolet visible light or infrared region of the spectrum. Laser stands for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The electromagnetic spectrum encompasses all wave frequencies including radio waves, microwaves, infrared waves visible light, ultraviolet and x-rays and gamma-rays.



The first laser was invented in 1960 and there are now dozens of types, each with their own specific wavelength. The wavelength and the voltage of energy propelling the laser determines how deeply it will penetrate into tissue. For example, fractal lasers are lasers where the light emission is pixelated to make it less intense. Every laser and every light therapy work by penetrating the skin, heating the tissue and causing injury which is then repaired by the body's immune system.

Throwing shade on skin injury

All light therapies used in skin rejuvenation have their own unique physical characteristics. They differ in wavelength, number of different wavelengths and pixilation of the energy that they emit. Medical lasers are specifically designed to penetrate no more than 3 to 4 millimeters below the skin surface. Lower energy lasers barely penetrate the top half millimeter of skin. Some higher energy lasers penetrate deeper into the skin, masking the injury that is taking place in the dermal layer of the skin tissue. 


Stimulating new collagen – the holy grail of skin rejuvenation

What does it mean when a treatment offers to ‘stimulate new collagen?’ Quite simply, all heat, light and laser therapies damage and injure tissue. The injury recruits your body’s immune system to heal by repairing and replacing new collagen and elastin.

However, calling laser and light therapies ‘noninvasive’ is disingenuous. Even the gentlest of light therapies operate by injuring tissue - even though they are not nearly as harmful as a 15 million V radiation beam that I use in treating cancer!

I acknowledge there is a short-term cosmetic result from injuring the skin with lasers and light therapies but the big question is “Do I really want to repeatedly injure my skin?”

 In my opinion, the answer should be an emphatic “no.”

The Bottom Line

As a radiation oncologist, I was convinced there must be a gentler, more effective way to rejuvenate skin and rebuild collagen and elastin. There had to be an alternative to damaging laser treatments. I would not recommend the routine use of cosmetic lasers.

I stand behind the exhaustive scientific research conducted by Stephanie and Cindy’s chemists. The Sapelo Skin Care regimen and products deliver safe and effective skin repair and rejuvenation by naturally stimulating collagen production, without injury.


Dr. John Duttenhaver is a board-certified Radiation Oncologist with 40 years of patient experience. He completed his specialty training at The Massachusetts General Hospital and The Harvard Medical School. He has published research on skin cancer.


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