How Susie O’Neill is beating sun damage

Australian swimming legend Susie O’Neill shares her first experience with laser skin treatments: 

I’ve struggled with sun damage, pigmentation and rosacea for the last ten years. The cause of my pigmentation is clear. Years spent training outdoors and repeated sun exposure have resulted in more freckles and sun spots than I’d like across my nose and cheeks.

The cause of my rosacea is a bit more unknown. It could be anything from allergies to genetics (I do have a family history of rosacea on my mum’s side). Whatever the cause, thankfully my case is relatively mild. However, it’s still frustrating to get rosy cheeks every time I exercise, heat up or drink alcohol.

After years of pushing these two skin issues aside, I finally decided to get on top of them by trying something I’ve never done before – laser skin treatments.

About Laser Skin Treatments

Lasers have always been something I’ve been nervous about. To me, they looked pretty intense and painful. Plus, I thought I’d have to lock myself indoors for a couple of days to avoid strange looks from people wondering why I looked so red and puffy.

I now know that I should have looked into this earlier. Ebonee, a dermal therapist at Artisan Aesthetic Clinics’ Racecourse Road clinic quickly put an end to my misconceptions, explaining that not all lasers are created equally. The lasers I was thinking of were ablative lasers and yes, they are intense. These lasers require anaesthetic and a few days to weeks of downtime. That’s because your old, damaged skin essentially sheds to make way for healthy, new skin. Thankfully, there are now non-ablative lasers available that are just as effective in treating sun damage and rosacea, without the pain and downtime.

Ebonee recommended I start with Laser Genesis, a mild laser treatment that is effective in treating rosacea in particular. Ebonee explained that it works by heating the dilated capillaries that cause the rosacea, causing them to collapse. She told me that the laser will also help to reduce some of my pigmentation by causing microscopic injuries within my skin. This will clean out some of my sun damage debris. The best part is that I won’t need any numbing cream (apparently it will feel like warm rain on my skin!). Also, while I might be pink afterwards, my skin shouldn’t flake or peel, so no downtime. I’m in!

The Treatment

The treatment starts with a mild exfoliation using a lactic acid peel, which tingles a bit but doesn’t cause any real discomfort. Ebonee explained how this is an important step in the process as it gets rid of any dead skin cells and debris to allow the laser to penetrate properly, maximising its effectiveness.

Once the exfoliation is complete, Ebonee gets started on the Laser Genesis treatment. She explains there are different heat settings and to raise my hand if I experience any discomfort. Side note: as a safety precaution, you can’t talk during the treatment as the laser can crack the enamel of your teeth if they’re exposed to it.

The laser is warm when she starts and gradually heats up as she reaches the ideal temperature required to have maximum impact. At one point, I felt like my shirt was going to catch fire but Ebonee quickly assured me that the laser was nowhere near close enough for this to happen. At no point did I feel any discomfort though – in fact, by the end, I was almost falling asleep!

The treatment took about 20 minutes and Ebonee was great throughout. She kept me informed of progress and let me know when she was going over an area that may sting, like the forehead where skin is thinner. She also made me feel really comfortable by regularly checking in to make sure I wasn’t experiencing any pain.

Afterwards, I was placed under a Healite for about 10 minutes. This is an LED light treatment that promotes healing and helps to prevent any possible swelling. This was an awesome way to finish the treatment. It felt like I was lying on a beach – definitely in my happy place. It was so comfortable that I actually did fall asleep!

The Results

While it will take about four treatments to see results with Laser Genesis, I was really impressed with how my skin looked afterwards. I didn’t experience any redness and my skin felt firmer and more plump. Ebonee explained this was due to the laser stimulating new collagen production.

I’ll be going back in two weeks for my next Laser Genesis treatment. Then I’ll be trying their Laser Vein treatment to eliminate my more stubborn pigmentation. I’ve posted some before pics below, but stay tuned. I should have some great after pics to share very soon!









{Before my Laser Genesis treatment}

Susie O’Neill is a national ambassador for Artisan Aesthetic Clinics. A former competitive swimmer, Susie won eight Olympic medals for Australia during her swimming career. Today, she works in the media industry as a co-host no Nova 106.9FM’s breakfast show – Ash, Kip and Lutsy with Susie O’Neill. 

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