Laser Bruise Healing
Summer is almost upon us. Bikini season! We waited throughout the long winter for this so we could go to the beach or on a vacation and finally get some sun on our slug-white skin. But what if you bruise easily? How do you enjoy showing some skin when it looks as though you fell down 14 flights of stairs? Especially when all that actually happened was you bumped into the coffee table. Once.
Fortunately we can help clear your skin of unsightly bruises before you expose it to the sun and the silent judgement of strangers. But first, what causes bruising? Why are some of us more susceptible than others, and why is that us women seem especially prone to developing large bruises from seemingly nothing at all? And finally, is there anything we can do to make ourselves less likely to bruise?
What Is A Bruise?
Our skin needs a lot of blood to be healthy, so the layers just under the surface are rich in tiny blood vessels called capillaries. Because these vessels are so small, they are also very delicate. When we suffer an impact, the force of it (even when it seems as though there was hardly any force applied at all) overcomes the elasticity of the capillary walls and the walls rupture, leaking blood into the area just under the skin. The bruise may or may not be painful, depending upon how deep the injury goes.
This blood under the surface gives the bruise its initial red color, but this very quickly fades to various shades of blue, black, green and yellow. This happens as the blood cells, which are no longer receiving oxygen, die. Don’t panic. These dead cells won’t poison you. Your body gradually flushes them away, but in the meantime you’re stuck with a technicolor blotch reminiscent of zombie makeup. The initial color of the bruise, and the color changes it goes through as it heals can also be affected by the depth of the bruise. It’s often worse if you have pale skin as your skin is simply less opaque.
Why Are Women More Likely To Bruise?
You may have noticed that the men in your life don’t tend to walk around with bruises all over their arms and legs. Are they more coordinated? No. They likely bump themselves just as often as you do. In fact, many of them do so more often. They don’t notice because nothing seems to happen when they do it. There are exceptions, of course. Some men do bruise easily, but overall women are more susceptible. Why?
The answer turns out to be kind of complicated. You may have been told that women have thinner skin, but this isn’t the reason. There are, however, a number of differences between our skin and men’s skin that makes us more prone to bruising.
How Women’s Skin Differs From Men
First, we have less collagen. Collagen provides the superstructure of our skin. Its fibers knit everything together in a strong, spidery web. More collagen means that the impact gets spread out more, and it also provides more support for the capillaries. Men typically have not only more collagen, but the collagen layer itself is thicker. So, because our skin has less and the layer is thinner, that means the impact doesn’t get spread out and the capillaries don’t have as much support, so they break more easily.
A second reason is, well, fat. You may have heard that women have an extra fat layer which men don’t have. This isn’t true, but we are genetically programmed to carry more fat than men, and also to carry more subcutaneous fat – that is, fat under the skin.
Many men who don’t carry this fat layer, and some women as well, benefit from having the collagen-laced dermis resting almost directly on a layer of muscle. Muscle obviously is much firmer than fat, so this provides a sounder substrate for the skin, preventing much of the distortion that leads to tearing and rupturing of the capillaries. This is why most men need to be hit much harder to form a bruise than us women do.
But Why Am I So Susceptible?
You may feel that you are even more susceptible to bruising than most women, and it’s entirely possible that you are. There can be a number of reasons for this.
First, you may have a thicker layer of subcutaneous fat, and depending upon your diet and genetics, you may also have more fat interlaced with your muscle. In this case, you bruise more easily because the underlying tissues beneath your skin are extra soft, so they don’t provide as much support. Less support equals more and larger bruises.
Second, a lack of muscle tone can also be a problem. This is another one where men have a clear advantage. Even if they don’t exercise their higher levels of testosterone mean they have denser muscles without even trying (“Not Fair!”). If you’re not an exerciser, you may have especially soft muscle tissue. Add this to the layer of subcutaneous fat, the smaller amount of collagen you have just because you’re a woman, and the possibility of higher than average amounts of intra-muscular fat and it’s not your imagination. You really do bruise more easily than other people, even other women.
Why Do They Take So Long To Heal?
In addition to bruising more easily, you may also feel that your bruises take extra long to heal. Your arms and legs become a history of minor injuries that can be read weeks into the past. Once again, this may not be your imagination.
In order to heal the bruise, your body has to flush the dead blood cells away. How fast this happens depends upon several factors that determine the rate of blood flow to the affected area. First, low blood pressure. Try cleaning your kid’s chalk off the sidewalk with a garden hose with no nozzle. It will come eventually, but it cleans a lot faster once you attach a nozzle and apply some pressure. Removing the dead cells is much the same concept. Low blood pressure means there just isn’t as much force behind the flow. More force means more pressure applied to the dead cells, which are kind of lodged in place, so they come loose more easily.
Too much subcutaneous fat can also be problem. As our fat cells fill up and the area gets larger, our body does grow new capillaries to supply blood to the area, but more capillaries to feed once again leads to lower pressure in the area. If you’re warm but your skin often feels cold, this can be a sign that you’re not getting much blood to the surface.
How Can We Help
Now for the good news. We can greatly speed the healing of bruises. While we can’t make them vanish overnight, in many cases you’ll see the bruise disappear within 24 to 48 hours, even if you usually take weeks to heal. While results vary by patient, here’s how our laser bruise treatments work.
Laser Bruise Healing
The key lies in the fact that the dead blood cells are darker than the surrounding tissue. The laser is calibrated to target these darker color frequencies. The heat from the laser breaks down the dead cells without harming the surrounding healthy cells. This makes it much easier for your body to flush them away. In addition, the heat from the laser increases blood flow to the area. While the depth of the bruise is definitely a factor in how long it will take to clear, and how many treatments may be needed, we can greatly speed the healing of any bruise, regardless of whether it resulted from an injury, surgery or a cosmetic procedure. There’s no need to be embarrassed by your bruises, or hide your skin from the sun we’ve all be waiting for.
This treatment will work even if you are dark-skinned. The laser concentrates its energy under the surface, so the actual color of your skin doesn’t matter as much as you might think. The key lies in the color difference between the dead blood cells and the surrounding healthy ones, which are much lighter regardless of your skin color.
Can I Make Myself Less Susceptible To Bruising?
The answer is “Definitely”, but it’s not easy. We’ve already discussed that the root problem is largely threefold: less collagen, more subcutaneous fat, and poor muscle density. While we can’t do anything about the first one, we can change the second two.
We can’t help with the muscle density. That can only be improved with exercise. While any kind of regular exercise will help, lifting weights (resistance training) is the absolute best way to increase muscle density.
As to the subcutaneous fat, whatever you do, don’t go on a diet! Diets are very unhealthy and in the long run almost always do more harm than good. The key to lowering your body fat does lie in your diet – but in this case we mean the word in the sense of the foods you eat all the time, not a temporary reduction of calories.
While it’s way outside the scope of this article, if you’ve spent your life being told that your weight problem is your fault because you ‘eat too much and don’t exercise enough’, we have good news. Recent research shows that for most of us, this simply isn’t true. To understand how your diet is causing your body to gain fat against your will, and how to take steps that can reverse it, we strongly recommend that you read the popular New York Times Bestseller by Dr. Robert Lustig, titled Fat Chance. We promise you’ll thank us.
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