BBL HERO® doesn’t come with a cape, but some may argue it deserves one. The acronym stands for Broadband Light High Energy Rapid Output, and it’s the latest light treatment from Sciton. In keeping with the superhero theme, the technology is faster than a speeding bullet and stronger than your average intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment. Here’s what to know about this anti-aging, photo-correcting procedure.
What is BBL HERO?
BBL HERO® is a new take on a tried-and-true favorite. The original BBL® treatment is a special type of IPL light treatment that uses dual-lamps to deliver visible and infrared light with quick-change smart filters that allow for quick switching between specific, targeted problems. It’s been shown to rejuvenate skin at a cellular level and can be used to treat brown spots, redness (including erythema from rosacea and acne), and skin laxity. Oh, and it’s also an option for permanent hair reduction.
The upgraded BBL HERO®, offered as part of both Forever Young™ + BBL and Forever Body™ treatments, does all of that with increased speed, shortened pulse width, high peak power, and twice the cooling capacity of the original to keep irritation away. As such, the manufacturer claims you’ll see results faster (for example, you’ll enjoy improved skin tone and texture in a quarter of the time). Like its predecessor, it’s being marketed as a fix for age and sun spots, redness, discoloration, dullness, and unwanted hair.
Much of the improvements can be credited to the duration of the pulses. For context, a typical machine may take up to one second apiece for a light flash. A BBL HERO® pulse can take as little as three milliseconds, which means you can get 1,200 to 1,500 pulses in a single face session versus 250 to 350 pulses with the original BBL®.
How BBL HERO Works
If you’re curious what this super speed means in practice, providers are most impressed with how the upgraded technology has improved treatment. “The technology allows practitioners to move the handpiece fluidly in a motion technique,” says Julius Few, MD, a board certified plastic surgeon and founder of The Few Institute in Chicago. “It has made treating the face, hands, arms, legs, back, and chest a lot easier.” Previously, as he explains, providers needed to use a stamping technique in which the head of the laser or IPL nozzle is placed on each area with a pause for the light to flash before moving to the next spot.
Calling BBL HERO® a “very efficient laser,” Ellen Marmur, MD, a New York-based board certified dermatologist and founder of MMSkincare, says the treatment has been well-received in the wake of COVID-19 worries, as many patients want to get in and out of the doctor’s office as quickly as possible. The upgraded technology allows for multiple passes of each treatment area and the changing of filters in between to address multiple skin concerns in a single visit.
Dr. Marmur is also impressed with the uniformity of the results. “In the past, IPL or BBL® treatments of the face and especially on the chest, arms, or legs were tedious and could lead to patches of uneven skin because the handpiece had a limited ability to deliver a consistent amount of light energy quickly, even with perfect technique,” she explains.
Another snag? It used to take multiple modalities to achieve the same result. “I used to have to combine the IPL or BBL® with Clear + Brilliant® or Fraxel® to get the best of both worlds, [meaning] removal of sun damage with an even finish in the fewest sessions,” she shares. She calls BBL HERO® a “game changer” for patients because it can treat “almost the entire body” quickly and evenly. In fact, it’s so fast, she quips, “we call it a car wash.”
Ideal Candidates for BBL HERO
BBL HERO® does include a wavelength option for darker skin tones, but it can be recommended for those at the light to medium end of the Fitzpatrick scale. This is especially true for hair removal patients. A consultation with a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon will let you know if you are a candidate.
What to Expect from a BBL HERO Treatment
As with any IPL treatment, Dr. Few says what most patients feel is the flash of warmth that accompanies each pulse. While most people can tolerate it without anesthetic numbing cream, you can ask your doctor about it if you’re sensitive. As the light finds the melanin in your skin, “the pigment initially darkens, helping you know that you had an optimal treatment,” he explains. “Then, overtime, your body’s natural healing process will remove the pigmented cells, replacing them with fresh new undamaged cells.”
While it’s considered a “no downtime” procedure, “treated skin may look and feel sunburned in the first few hours after treatment,” Dr. Few notes, adding that cool compresses and ibuprofen allow most patients to immediately go back to their regular routine. If you are treating blood vessels, he says to be on the lookout for post-procedure bruising. And, regardless of the treatment area, you’ll want to be extra diligent with your sunscreen routine. “The skin will be sensitive to sunlight for two weeks after treatment,” he explains.
Overall, no matter where you have BBL HERO® done (chest, back, arms, legs, and/or face), you can expect skin improvements fairly quickly. “Patients have been extremely satisfied with their results,” Dr. Marmur says. “Imagine having 10 years of sun damage and brown spots gone after a few laser treatments.”
BBL HERO Cost & Results
A comparative analysis from the brand suggests you can get the results you may have expected from five or more original BBL® treatments in one to three BBL HERO® treatments. Pricing varies by provider and treatment area, but the typical cost for a full face treatment is $600 to $800.
Realistically, Dr. Few says you can expect a return visit or two. “While results can be seen after a single BBL® treatment, optimal results often require two to five treatments depending on the condition being treated,” he shares. “Our average with the new technology is two treatments spaced six to 12 weeks apart.” Dr. Marmur agrees. “Most people will need three to five treatments to get improvement,” she says. “One treatment is unlikely to completely fix the sun damage — it’s a journey!”
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