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Using Lasers to Treat the Skin: Halo and BroadBand Light Treatment (BBL)

Boulder Medical Center Dermatology now offers Halo™ and Broadband Light™ (BBL) Laser treatments. State-of-the-art technology is always operated by one of our highly qualified medical professionals to ensure optimal safety and desired results. Ask your provider during your next dermatology appointment for details.

About Laser Skin Treatments

Since their initial production in the 1960s, lasers have been used to treat several skin concerns.1,2,3  As technology advances, the safety profile of laser treatments has continued to improve, expanding the scope of dermatologic concerns that can be effectively treated with lasers.

Lasers that treat the skin can be divided into two primary categories: ablative and non-ablative. An ablative laser removes the outermost layer of skin (the epidermis) and uses energy to heat the deeper layer of skin (the dermis).3  This process stimulates collagen growth and allows the top layer of skin to appear smoother and more firm.Non-ablative lasers use varying wavelengths of light to target different levels of the skin to stimulate collagen growth.3,4  Both options leave microscopic areas of skin untreated, which helps to reduce side effects and speed healing times.3

The Halo Skin Resurfacing laser uses a combination of ablative and non-ablative wavelengths to treat wrinkles and fine lines, signs of aging, actinic keratoses (pre-cancers), scars, and skin texture changes.5,6  The ablative component of this treatment allows for deeper penetration into the skin, which provides noticeable results more quickly and requires a few more days of healing time post-procedure (average of 5 days).

Broadband Light (BBL) is a non-ablative laser used to treat vascular lesions, acne, rosacea, brown spots, redness, and more.7,8  Each of these concerns resides at a different level in the skin; the wavelengths for the laser can be adjusted to reach the desired area specifically. This treatment is more superficial than an ablative laser, which results in less downtime and faster healing overall.

Halo™ and Broadband Light™ (BBL) Laser Treatments

BBL-Logo-smallHalo_Logo_smallThe decision to pursue treatment with Halo vs. BBL is dependent on skin care goals and desired recovery time.

Halo is used for skin resurfacing, aging, and wrinkles. It can also improve redness and facial blood vessels but is less targeted than BBL. Halo penetrates the skin more deeply, so the results are more dramatic with a single treatment. However, downtime is longer.5,6,7,8

BBL addresses acne, pigmented lesions (age spots and freckles), and vascular lesions (telangiectasias, rosacea, and cherry angiomas). Since BBL targets pigment, patients cannot receive this treatment if they are tanned. Additionally, BBL does not remove the top layer of skin, so recovery time is faster; however, more treatments may be needed to achieve the desired results.

Common side effects include redness, swelling, itching, pain, blistering, and crusting. These issues should be temporary and resolve over several days after treatment. Patients who have occasional cold sores should let their provider know before undergoing any laser treatment so that medication can be prescribed to avoid flares during healing.3

Additional side effects of Halo treatments include pinpoint bleeding (this should resolve within 12 hours) and MENDS (microscopic epidermal necrotic debris), which are tiny dark spots and a bronzed skin appearance (this will resolve as the skin heals).6

Following post-care best practices can help to maximize results and minimize side effects. Gentle cleansing and generous use of moisturizers help protect delicate skin. Practicing good sun protection in the two months after the procedure (with the use of sunscreen, hats, and sun-protective clothing) will help reduce blistering, scarring, and discoloration.6,8,9

The advances in laser technology have made it a relatively safe and effective treatment for a wide variety of skin concerns. It is best to consult with your dermatology provider to determine what treatment is best for you and review risks/benefits associated with any intervention.”


  1. Overview of Lasers, Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery 2008 Oct; 41(Suppl): S101–S113.
  2. Lasers in Dermatology
  3. Laser Resurfacing
  4. Intense Pulsed Light
  5. Sciton

Meet our Dermatology Providers

The Dermatology team at Boulder Medical Center provides comprehensive medical and surgical care for all skin conditions.