Finding the Fountain of Youth: How Light Keeps Your Skin Glowing With Dr. Bitter

Join LiVDerm as we sit down with Patrick H. Bitter, Jr. MD, board-certified dermatologist and world-renowned expert in energy-based solutions. Dr. Bitter takes us through the use of BroadBand Light for healthy and younger looking skin.  

Transcript edited for clarity.

LiVDerm: Welcome back to DermDocs everyone. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to rate, subscribe, and leave us a five-star review. Thank you so much for listening.

Today, we have the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Patrick Bitter, who is a board-certified dermatologist, pioneer, educator, and world-renowned expert in energy-based skin solutions. He was also featured in the cover story of the March 2022 edition of Top Doctor Magazine for his discovery of pulsed light and its usefulness, effectiveness, and versatility in treating a multitude of skin problems. Just wait till you hear all he has to say. Welcome, Dr. Bitter. You'll present a session at the 2022 South Beach Symposium discussing energy-based devices for facial rejuvenation. Can you please give the listeners a little glimpse of what will be covered?

Welcome, Dr. Bitter. You'll present a session at the 2022 South Beach Symposium discussing energy-based devices for facial rejuvenation. Can you please give the listeners a little glimpse of what will be covered?

Thank you. This is a very exciting time for aesthetic practitioners and our patients, as advances in energy-based devices have made correcting skin easier and more effective than ever before. This fall, at the South Beach Symposium West in Southern California, I will be speaking on an exciting new advance from Sciton with high-speed, high-energy skin rejuvenation with BroadBand Light (BBL). This innovation in technology has allowed us to develop new procedures and protocols that make treating skin even easier for our patients and the results are more dramatic and effective than ever before. With the new high-speed BBL technology, we’ve been able to develop protocols and techniques, for example, a motion technique as opposed to the traditional use of IPL (intense pulsed light) with stamping techniques.

At the meeting, I will also be talking about protocols that are multi-pass, multi-step protocols that have allowed us to treat skin faster and easier. The treatments are safer than they have ever been before, and they are more comfortable for our patients while finally moving us to what I consider the holy grail of skin rejuvenation, and that is being able to take skin of any age and have it look like young people’s skin. This is a very exciting time and I’m very excited about the opportunity to present my experience and my work in this area at the South Beach Symposium on the West Coast in Southern California this fall.

LiVDerm: Wow, that's amazing! And it sounds life-changing for many people too. Speaking of these treatments, what technology would you suggest for a patient with acne scarring or maybe an uneven skin texture who hasn't seen results from first-line treatment?

As you know, acne scarring is really common and for many people, it can be a very distressing problem. It can also be very challenging for aesthetic practitioners like myself to treat. I think one of the biggest and most exciting advances has been discovering that the early treatment of inflammatory acne (when people are in their teens), with BroadBand Light, can dramatically improve inflammatory acne, as well as clear the skin of the red marks, purple marks, and hyperpigmentation that inflammatory acne lesions often end up leaving.

In addition, regular early intervention treatment with BroadBand Light can clear acne and help prevent the ravages of ongoing acne and chronic acne that, in the teen years and early 20s, can leave people with pitted acne scars and depressed scars that can be challenging to treat later in life. So early treatment with BroadBand Light when people are in their teens and have early acne can help tremendously to prevent the onset of severe acne scarring. And this is a very exciting area that, right now, not very many people know about and is not that well appreciated. But I will be touching upon that at South Beach Symposium West.

LiVDerm: That’s great. They could also be a candidate for what you developed, the FotoFacial procedure. Who would be the prime candidate for this service?

When I first began to work with intense pulsed light and developed the procedure that was the use of intense pulsed light for treating the entire face and doing a series of treatments, what we've come to call the FotoFacial procedure, we really limited the treatments to people that had redness on their face or rosacea or sun-damaged skin. But over the 25 years that I’ve worked with light and treating skin, we’ve come to appreciate that light is almost magical and it has other benefits as well. The other benefit is that light makes skin healthier. It helps keep skin healthier and it slows down age-related changes. So appreciating that regular treatments with BroadBand Light can help keep your skin healthy and younger looking and slow down aging, pretty much everybody is a candidate for BroadBand Light. And those benefits of making skin healthy, keeping it healthy, and slowing down aging, especially now with the high-speed, high-energy BroadBand Light technology that's been innovated, can rejuvenate and delay aging on the skin all over the body.

We have finally moved to a place that 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, we only dreamt about. We can now make a promise to our patients and say, if you come in and see us and get regular treatments with BBL, starting in your 30s or 40s, we can keep your skin looking young into your 60s, 70s, and 80s. And I will be talking about that and presenting that. So, pretty much everybody is a candidate for the FotoFacial procedure and BBL.

LiVDerm: That's amazing. Is it on a case-by-case basis? How many treatments does it take, or does it vary per person?

If you are wondering what the best treatment for each person is, we've learned so much about how to use BroadBand Light with protocols and techniques that we have worked out the parameters and settings, so it has become so simple. You can look at somebody who has age-related issues and changes on the skin and use a protocol with BBL for correcting their skin. You can look at people who have nice skin and use your protocol that helps keep skin looking nice. Then you can use those protocols that I've developed for people once you've corrected their skin. Let’s say they are in their 40s, 50s, or 60s and they have redness, and sun damage, and now they don't have that anymore because of the treatments you’ve done with BroadBand Light. Now you can use a simple easy protocol to keep skin looking that nice. That’s the way I treat my skin. That’s the way I treat my wife’s skin. Now that the age-related changes and sun damage I used to have on my skin is all gone, I use BroadBand Light to keep my skin looking younger, healthier, and nicer looking. Those have all been worked out. Life for us aesthetic practitioners, and our patients, is in the world of energy-based devices and in particular, BBL. It has become so much simpler and easier because all the work has been done. You just need to look at your patient and look at what they have and decide what the best protocol for them is.

LiVDerm: That makes sense. As you know the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed some unexpected challenges for providers and many medical sub-specialties. Have you observed any new patient complaints or surge requests for certain procedures?

In the early part of 2020, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic created a very challenging overnight situation for everybody. It has affected everybody over the last two years. But one of the really unexpected consequences of the pandemic has been the surge in demand for all kinds of aesthetic procedures, including cosmetic surgery. I've been fascinated by this. What is bringing all these people to my practice? In talking to my colleagues, it's really been the same everywhere around the country. What is bringing in all these people, who either have never done any kind of procedure before or who have been getting periodic treatments with filler and Botox or a light-based treatment like BBL that they haven't done for two or more years? I’ve been fascinated by what has been bringing them in. And in my experience, this is what I've learned.

Firstly, people were suddenly found in a world where they were surrounded by bad news and every day it seemed like they were hearing bad news about the outcomes of the deaths from COVID-19 and the rising number of cases, and the overwhelmed hospitals and hospital workers and the limitations and shutdowns that became a normal part of our lives. This affects people. When it seems like everything around you in the world is bad, going and doing something for yourself, makes you feel better – at least you could do something that you felt good about and had some control over. That’s one of the reasons I have found has prompted people to come in seeking aesthetic treatments when maybe they’ve never done them before. It’s the interest to want to feel good about something, feel good about themselves. 

The second interesting part is that people have had more discretionary income. Many people who were accustomed to going on a very nice vacation with their family once or twice a year weren’t able to do that. Family gatherings that they would spend a certain amount of money on, or travel to see their family, have been limited. So they had a bit more discretionary income and they decided, “Well, I’m going to spend some money on myself, then.” And that is also partly what has driven this surge in cosmetic treatments and cosmetic procedures. 

I think people have always been interested in wanting to do something, do things that made them feel better about how they looked, and I think that the pandemic really brought out people’s awareness and attention about how fleeting life is and how quickly it could just come to an end. And I think many people began to reflect on what is important. Everything seemed so uncertain and we felt we had very little to no control over things. We were being told you have to wear a mask, you can’t travel, you have to keep away from people, kids can’t go to school. And a lot of what we had taken for granted was taken away from us. What we could do is something about ourselves. And despite the masking and social distancing, people were willing to come to my office, or their practitioner’s office, take off their masks, and be in close contact with the practitioner for 10, 20, or 30 minutes – completely the opposite of what we were being told to do. They were willing to do that to do something for themselves that made them feel good. At least, it gave them some sense of control in their lives and I think these three factors partly explain this surge that we’ve seen in the demand for aesthetic procedures and cosmetic procedures. It’s been a fascinating time just watching people’s response to this worldwide crisis that has had a very unexpected boom in the area of aesthetic and cosmetic medicine. 

LiVDerm: Those are some wonderful points, thank you. When you look good you feel good too.

In particular, when you consider that we've been through a two-year period where we’ve felt like we’ve had very little control over what's happening in the world, and even in our own lives. Doing something that was within our control made us feel good. I think that the pandemic has had that psychological impact on people and is part of the reason why we've seen this tremendous surge and interest in cosmetic procedures.

LiVDerm: Your practice is in California and SBS is launching a new event at the Terranea Resort in Southern California this fall. Can you please explain if patients on the West Coast have different aesthetic ideals than those on the East Coast?

This is a very interesting question. In my opinion, the perception, or more accurately the misconception, that people living on the West Coast have a greater desire to do aesthetic procedures and a greater desire to look done, or even unnatural if you would, is largely driven by West Coast media and Hollywood and not by patients. I say this because in my experience, what people want is pretty much universal. And people want to feel good about how they look and they want to look natural. At the end of the day, that’s what our patients are coming to see us for – all aesthetic practitioners – whether it’s a dermatologist like myself who is focused on making the skin look healthier and younger or a cosmetic surgeon that is going to do a surgical procedure. People want to feel good about how they look and they want to look natural.

There are differences between aesthetic practitioners on the East Coast and the West Coast though. For example, IPL was much more readily embraced on the West Coast and in Midwestern states, Texas for example, than on the East Coast, especially the North Atlantic and the Northeast part of the U.S. There is a variation of what procedures West Coast and East Coast doctors might prefer and might promote to their patients and IPL is one example of that. That has become less and less over the years as people, aesthetic practitioners and the public, have come to appreciate how magical light is and you really do need light if you’re an aesthetic practitioner at some point to offer your patients. 

The other thing that I think has contributed to that perception is the lack of expertise of practitioners. I do think you see more over-filled faces and overfilled unnatural-looking lips in some parts of the West Coast than you do in the Midwest and the East Coast. I think however that this is not so much a patient demand or a difference in how people on the West Coast want to look, it is the lack of experience of practitioners. I think the West Coast tends to attract a lot more people wanting to come here and be aesthetic practitioners and not all of them have a lot of experience. They don’t do lips very well, and they don’t do faces very well. 

So I think Hollywood, the media, and the visibility of people to the rest of the country on television and film where you see mostly West Coast people looking overdone has really not been because patients want to look that way. It’s because of a lack of expertise in practitioners. And sometimes celebrities just go to people that don’t have that much experience and they don’t get very good results and I get to see them to fix that. So I think that it’s a very interesting question and in my opinion, over all these years, the differences that you see between the East Coast and West Coast are not driven by patients. It’s driven by practitioners and what you see in the media and Hollywood. I think that a meeting like SBS West where you bring East Coast and West Coast experts and teachers is a great opportunity to share regional variations and preferences for techniques and energy-based devices and people then begin to share their expertise and knowledge. You end up with a higher level of expertise among aesthetic practitioners. Meetings like SBS West are a rich source of sharing information and differences in how we may practice across the U.S. 

LiVDerm: So the main point here is that everyone should book an appointment with you. All celebrities and everyone go to Dr. Bitter!

Well, if you want to go see a person that has a passion for making skin look young and healthy and has a lot of expertise with that, somebody that loves to make lips look beautiful, but not done – that's me because that's what I love to do. That’s one of the reasons I'm invited to speak and share what I have a passion for and what I spend my professional time doing day in and day out.

LiVDerm: That's amazing. You're very passionate about it and you love it and that’s what’s important. What nuances do you think attendees at SBS West will experience in an agenda tailored to the West Coast audience?

I think attendees at SBS West in Southern California this fall will be treated to the best of what the South Beach Symposium has always been about and that's well-respected, expert speakers and teachers and up-to-date contemporary topics at a collegial gathering in a beautiful location. SBS West will offer all of what we've come to love and appreciate about South Beach Symposium. It will be a meeting you don’t want to miss.

LiVDerm: We are so excited to have you and can't wait for your lecture.

Thank you so much. I appreciate the opportunity to speak and attend the meeting. I get as much out of these meetings in terms of what I learn from just discoursing and meeting up with my colleagues, meeting new people, and listening to new speakers. These meetings are so worthwhile and so I'm thrilled to get to be there and have the opportunity to share what I love doing and what my expertise is.

LiVDerm: We’re thrilled as well and thank you so much for all of your insight today. It's been a true pleasure talking with you.


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