Do Not Try This at Home: DIY Lasers

Palovia Laser at home

Hating your wrinkles? Yeah, who doesn't.

And sure, you're probably thinking what I am: Why spend all that time and money going to the dermatologist for laser treatments when there must be a way to do it at home? Who needs a med-school education, right?

Well, according to the folks at Palomar Medical, you don't!

For a paltry $499 (on QVC and soon,, you can be your own laser-wielding aesthetician with the PaloVia Skin Renewing Laser.

It’s the first at-home laser device cleared by the FDA for use on fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes, and it works by sending laser beams designed to stimulate the skin’s natural collagen-production process, thus eliminating creases (so it claims).

Maintenance requires using the PaloVia twice a week, following daily use during the first month. The appliance boasts a safety feature that will only allow you to use it once every 24 hours.

Though I’m a gadget guru, devoted to my Clarisonic and Zeno, I have zero plans to test the PaloVia (sorry to disappoint). While I’d love to eliminate crow’s-feet on the (comparatively) cheap in my own home, the promised safety of the laser does not make me feel good: The instructions state that you need to keep the device from your open or closed eye.

How safe could it possibly be, right?

Rattled nerves aside, I had to wonder what the dermatologists thought.

Dr. Priya Mahindra is as skittish as I am. She points out that PaloVia "is not a true laser. The wavelength falls under the spectrum of Intense Pulse Light therapy (IPL). This device should not be used on dark-skinned patients because it can cause permanent, severe hypopigmentation."

IPL is the same treatment used for hair removal, spider veins, broken capillaries, and a whole host of issues. 

Dr. Whitney Bowe mentions that when you take the doctor out of the equation, you take away the ability of that professional to counsel a patient regarding whether this is the best procedure for her skin.

Even if I could put the big safety issue aside (which I can't—it's my face, after all), the effectiveness of the gadget is also an issue. Dr. Mahindra doesn't feel PaloVia will have any significant impact on wrinkles.

And Dr. Neal Schultz added that “FDA clearance has no bearing on effectiveness, and at-home devices can yield, at best, mild to modest improvement over time.”

Frankly, the fear of mucking up my skin far outweighs the convenience of lasering up in privacy, and for me, that puts this product firmly in the do-not-try-at-home category.

Sorry PaloVia, I'm sticking with the doctor's office.


Amber Katz is the writer and editor of