PODCAST: I’m a Plastic Surgeon, I had Halo Laser Treatment and Here’s What Happened (Part 1 of 3)

It’s not every day that the surgeon becomes the patient! Moments just before his broadband light (BBL) & Halo laser treatment, Dr. Luke Swistun shares what he thinks it will be like and gives insight into why he’s having laser resurfacing.

We’ll be back with more in this 3 part mini-series, including a chat with Julia Jowett who’s treating Dr. Swistun, and a follow up to hear how he’s doing in a few weeks.

Please request your free consultation online or call La Jolla Cosmetic, San Diego, at (858) 788-7989 for more

Check out Dr. Swistun’s pre-treatment VISIA photos below.

A close-up photo that exposes the damage to the texture and pigmentation of Dr. Swistun's skin using VISIA skin analysis technology
A close-up look at Dr. Swistun before receiving HALO laser skin resurfacing treatment taken with VISIA skin analysis technology
A close-up photo of Dr. Swistun's face in which the texture and pigmentation of his skin are visible
A close-up look at Dr. Swistun before receiving HALO laser skin resurfacing treatment


Speaker 1 (00:07):
You’re listening to The La Jolla Cosmetic Podcast.

Monique Ramsey (00:14):
Welcome everyone, to The La Jolla Cosmetic Podcast. I’m your hostess, Monique Ramsey. And today’s guest is Dr. Luke Swistun. He’s our plastic surgeon in our surgery center, and he’s going to have a little aesthetic treatment in our medical spa today. So, tell us about what you’re about to do, Dr. Swistun.

Dr. Luke Swistun (00:35):
Well, the most important thing about today is the fact that we’re actually going to have a date with my wife. We have three kids, three boys between the ages of three and 11. And we both have full-time jobs. And I found that sometimes the best time to get alone time is literally put it on the schedule. That’s exactly what we decided to do. So, we blocked off Friday afternoon and it’s, we’re just going to be holding hands and going through whatever it is that you feel is indicated for our faces.

Monique Ramsey (00:59):
So, they’re going to have a little laser treatment with Julia Jowett, who’s one of our PAs in our medical spa. So, it’s a couple’s therapy or couple’s retreat in the laser room.

Dr. Luke Swistun (01:12):
Yeah. If only for a few hours.

Monique Ramsey (01:15):
So, I think what she was talking about, and we’re going to have her on the next episode, we’re going to have Julia come and join us, and talk a little bit about how the lasers work. And, but I heard you’re having the HALO laser, which is, I think probably our most popular laser. And it’s a fractional laser that’s made by Sciton. It’s great for sun spots and texture issues, hyperpigmentation, which is sort of that brown spot that people get, wrinkles, and even some scars. Because she can really modify the depth of it, to treat different areas. And I think you’re also having a BBL, which is the BroadBand Light treatment.

Dr. Luke Swistun (01:51):
As opposed to the Brazilian butt lift.

Monique Ramsey (01:52):
Yeah, exactly. You give the Brazilian butt lifts, and you take in the BBL laser. So, why is it that you and Dominique would like to have lasers? Besides just getting to have a date?

Dr. Luke Swistun (02:07):
Well, I think I’ve reached my limitations. Being a plastic surgeon and having been married for 23 years, she was there with me all along, during our training. And she was also my Guinea pig for a lot of the little local procedures that I’ve sort of trained on throughout my entire training course, in plastic surgery and general surgeon in the past. And specifically with plastic surgery, a lot of the noninvasive small procedures, as residents at University of Utah, we were allowed to get Botox complimentary from the companies, as well as certain brands of filler, in the interest of us just getting comfortable with the product. So, obviously my wife was right there. She was a willing participant, and a lot of my self training initiated with her. And right now, we still do this on a fairly regular basis. It’s usually another date that we set up at home, on a Friday night when the kids are asleep. But I’ve noticed that I’ve reached some limitations.

Dr. Luke Swistun (02:58):
I like to be conservative with the Botox and the filler. I like to make her look natural. It’s essentially my goal, is to just maintain her, the way she used to look, I suppose, is kind of the goal. Is like maintain her youth and really don’t overdo it. Don’t overfill it. There are some things where I just can’t do anymore. For instance, the fine wrinkles on the side of the eye, that the crow’s feet I can treat with Botox. But once they start creeping in underneath the eye and sort of towards the middle of the eye, I can’t really treat that anymore with Botox. That’s not really effective. Or to some extent it is, but it doesn’t really take them away. So, I believe other modalities I’m familiar with, with lasers, I think they can address that to some extent. Pigmentation issues is another thing that you mentioned, is I have vitiligo, personally.

Dr. Luke Swistun (03:40):
So, I do have some pigmentation issues and it kind of comes and goes. It’s kind of like an ever-evolving map on my face. Sometimes a little bit more, sometimes a little bit less, but I think that has the potential of evening out that pigment. And Dominique has the same way. On the forehead, she has a couple of freckles and probably some sun spots, because back when she was growing up in Poland, bathing in the sun used to be a cool thing to do. Right now we know that that was a mistake. But that’s just treating the consequences of those things over time, I think, is the goal.

Monique Ramsey (04:12):
And do you mind telling us, or sharing with us, how old you are and how old she is?

Dr. Luke Swistun (04:15):
I’m 46. She’s 43.

Monique Ramsey (04:16):
Okay. And like you say, fillers and Botox can do a lot, but I think especially with the skin, it’s like Dr. Olesen used to say, talking about facelifts, you can iron a dress, but you can’t, if it’s too long, you still need to hem it. Or vice versa, if you hem it and it’s still wrinkled, you have to iron it. And so, it’s sort of like, like you say, the limitations of what fillers can do and what I think people would be amazed at. It’s not your mama’s laser from 1991 and 1993, when it was very ablative and you could have a lot of post-operative issues. And now, the lasers, there’s so many different ones. And we’ll have Julia walk us through it. And we do have an episode on lasers that Brittany went through with us, kind of a high-level look at the different types of lasers.

Dr. Luke Swistun (05:07):
I agree with you, the technology is kind of leaping forward, and there are so many different ones. And plastic surgery I’ve trained on using lasers. And I sort of know their potential and it’s actually on the boards. There’s basic things we need to remember about them. And I’ve used them myself for removing tattoos and treating little spider angiomas, and things like that, but it’s not something I do every day. And this is like, really why I’m here, is because we just need someone to help us out, that is on top of the technology and has experience with the technology every day. And I would entrust myself to someone like that way more than I would entrust myself to myself. Especially with the fact that I don’t do this on a regular basis. So, I think experience counts for a lot, and this is why we’re here.

Monique Ramsey (05:48):
So, have you ever had a laser treatment?

Dr. Luke Swistun (05:50):
No, not a laser treatment.

Monique Ramsey (05:52):
What are you anticipating, the recovery from this to be?

Dr. Luke Swistun (05:56):
You know, I really don’t care. I believe I’m going to be a little swollen, probably a little bit red and less than perfectly presentable. But we do have some friends coming up from out of town, from Los Angeles, that we’ve known for a couple of years. And they’re sort of aware that this is going to happen, and we have reservations for a restaurant tonight. But we’ll just roll with it, and we’ll have matching faces, Dominique and I, so, I think. So, what can go wrong?

Monique Ramsey (06:23):
Well, you could always get takeout. I think, if your goals are a little aggressive with dinner, you never know.

Dr. Luke Swistun (06:28):
We’ll see. We’ll see.

Monique Ramsey (06:29):
Yeah. You’ll just have to see. And then, do you have anything right now for you specifically that’s bothering you about your skin that makes you want to get HALO? Or is it sort of more preventative maintenance?

Dr. Luke Swistun (06:41):
I think it’s a little bit of both. I think being 46 and a man, who doesn’t really take care of his face with, or skin with cream or moisturizer or anything else like that. And living in Southern California and driving a convertible fairly regularly, I’m sure there’s damage there. I’m sure we can make an improvement. Specifically with vitiligo, and like I said before, it comes and goes, there’s a pigmentation issue. We can, I know that the peel fairly superficial resurfacing in the past, had actually addressed that really nicely.

Monique Ramsey (07:06):

Dr. Luke Swistun (07:06):
Since then, it’s come back a little bit. So, this is one more modality of skin resurfacing that we can try, and I can sort of compare the results and see if one is better than the other. But I’m sure it’ll have some positive effect.

Monique Ramsey (07:17):
Now is vitiligo something that you were born with or does that develop over time?

Dr. Luke Swistun (07:23):
Yeah, it’s a, it’s something that I’m predisposed to genetically. It’s an autoimmune disorder. It kind of flares up sometimes, and then it goes away, depending on, I suppose, the immune system. It’s kind of complex and a little bit different for everybody. When I’m stressed and not sleeping well, I think it was the worst when I was doing trauma surgery on the south side of Chicago as a resident, that was sort of where it flared up the most, only because that was a very stressful environment and we’re not sleeping for days and days at a time, we’re just operating and dealing with gunshot wounds. So, you can imagine.

Monique Ramsey (07:52):

Dr. Luke Swistun (07:52):
And so, that’s when it was the worst. And then, when I’m in a rotation or in a lifestyle where I’m just like sleeping more, and a little bit more relaxed, and it kind of goes away. So, I think it is related to stress, as that relates to the immune system. Right now, it’s just kind of fair. It’s just hanging out. I think as I’m getting older, it gets a little worse, too. So, we’ll see what we can do.

Monique Ramsey (08:12):
Isn’t aging fun?

Dr. Luke Swistun (08:13):
Yes. Yes.

Monique Ramsey (08:14):
I’m a little bit ahead of you, so I can tell you, it’s, with a capital F, it’s super fun.

Dr. Luke Swistun (08:18):

Monique Ramsey (08:19):
So, what do you think it’s going to feel like, since you’ve never had a laser done before?

Dr. Luke Swistun (08:24):
I’m sure it’s going to feel like a relaxing experience, because I don’t have to think about it. I can just lay there and let myself be taken care of by someone else, for once, which is going to be awesome. I don’t know. It may be anything from like pins and needles to burning. Or, I think, there may be some numbing creams that we’re going to use. So, I don’t think I’m not going to be able to tolerate it, since this is done on a regular basis every day. And we have plenty of very happy people walking away after the experience. So, we’ll see.

Monique Ramsey (08:51):
Okay. And so your weekend plans, you’ve got people coming in from out of town. You and Dominique will be doing your post-op care, whatever Julia tells you to do. And I’m sure you’ll do perfectly, because you’re a doctor, right? You want your patients to do it, do their post-op properly. So you’ll, are you good at following directions?

Dr. Luke Swistun (09:08):
We’ll see. We’ll see. Yeah. I think I am, but there’s this, that very well-known adage that doctors are very hypocritical about medical care, because we’re overdue for procedures, just because we don’t have time to do them and stuff like that. Just for regular health checkups and stuff. I can’t remember the last time I was at a doctor’s office, and I’m 46, so I should have an annual physical by now, but I think it’s been like a decade.

Monique Ramsey (09:31):
Maybe we can do a house call? Get a doctor to come do a house call. Maybe somebody in the audience could volunteer.

Dr. Luke Swistun (09:35):
Maybe there’s one outside. I can talk to them while I’m getting this done.

Monique Ramsey (09:39):
Right? And so, are you going first or is your wife?

Dr. Luke Swistun (09:42):
I don’t know. I think it depends on when she gets here, because she does have a full work schedule this morning. And I know she’s going to try making every effort to be here on time.

Monique Ramsey (09:51):
Okay. And then you mentioned earlier, before we started recording the Visia. So, the Visia is technology that looks at your skin. You put your head in the little camera area, and that takes different pictures and it shows how much sun damage or red spotting, and what your skin looks like underneath. So we’ll put those in the show notes, so everybody can see.

Dr. Luke Swistun (10:13):

Monique Ramsey (10:13):
What that Visia looks like. And-

Dr. Luke Swistun (10:15):
Yeah, so basically the ugliest version of me, I think, to just up the contrast all the way.

Monique Ramsey (10:21):
Or pull it down and then-

Dr. Luke Swistun (10:22):
Yeah. And then pull it down. The procedure pulls it down.

Monique Ramsey (10:25):
Yeah. So, we’ve got some HALO before and after pictures on our website, and we’ll have those links in the show notes. We’ll also share Dr. Swistun’s before and after photos. And will you take pictures every day, for us?

Dr. Luke Swistun (10:38):
I can do that.

Monique Ramsey (10:39):
That would be awesome, because I think most people just want to know what is day one, day three, whatever, just so, kind of a little progression. Because I’m sure it’s a little different for everyone, but I’m sure there’s also some kind of basic similarity. So, I think that’d be super helpful. So, we’ll show you all the before and after photos, and then do you, who do you think is going to handle the pain better? You or your wife?

Dr. Luke Swistun (11:03):
Probably my wife. I mean, she had three kids, come on.

Monique Ramsey (11:04):
Three kids, right? Oh, yeah. Good question. All right. Well, any other things you want to tell us about, before you go ahead down the hallway to get your numbing cream on?

Dr. Luke Swistun (11:15):
Not really. I’m just really looking forward to the experience.

Monique Ramsey (11:17):

Dr. Luke Swistun (11:19):
And we’ll see what the recovery is.

Monique Ramsey (11:21):
So, everybody take a look at the show notes, and then we’re going to record with Julia on, I think on Monday, and have her tell us a little bit about the HALO laser and the BBL, and what she uses each one for. And so, all right. Well, thanks for coming on and talking to us, and we look forward to following you through this journey.

Dr. Luke Swistun (11:42):
Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1 (11:43):
Take a screenshot of this podcast episode with your phone, and show it at your consultation or appointment, or mention the promo code PODCAST, to receive $25 off any service or product of $50 or more at La Jolla Cosmetic. La Jolla Cosmetic is located just off the I-5 San Diego Freeway in the Ximed Building on the Scripps Memorial Hospital campus. To learn more, go to ljcsc.com, or follow the team on Instagram @ljcsc. The La Jolla Cosmetic Podcast is a production of The Axis.

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