For years, dermatologists have searched for an ideal method to diminish wrinkles, correct acne scars, treat for Rosacea, and improve sun-damage and aging skin. Laser treatment of the face is the latest scientific breakthrough in skin rejuvenation.
What Is a Laser?
Lasers work by producing an intense beam of bright light that travels in one direction. The laser has the unique ability to produce one specific color (wavelength) of light that can be varied in its intensity and pulse duration. Ordinary light from non-laser sources is composed of many different colors and appears white. The wavelength and power output of a particular laser typically determines its medical application. When the laser light is directed at skin tissue, its light energy is absorbed by water or pigments found in the skin. Water is found in large amounts in all living cells. Pigments of the skin include hemoglobin, a protein that makes blood red, and melanin, the tan or brown colored pigment. All three targets absorb laser light of different colors.
What Are the Benefits of Laser Surgery?
Lasers may offer you and your dermatologic surgeon the following general benefits:
- Improved therapeutic results
- Reduced risk of infection
- “Bloodless” surgery with most lasers
- Precisely controlled surgery, which limits injury to normal skin
- An alternative to traditional scalpel surgery, in some cases
- Less scarring, in most cases
- Safe and effective outpatient, same-day surgery for many skin conditions
What Type of Laser Should Be Used?
Different types of lasers are used to treat a variety of skin conditions, birthmarks and growths and cosmetic complaints. Presently, no single laser is currently capable of treating all skin conditions, but certain lasers can have multiple functions (e.g., treating both red and brown spots). Your dermatologic surgeon will carefully evaluate your individual condition and suggest the appropriate type of laser system to achieve the best results.
What Are the Common Lasers Used in Dermatology?
Yellow Light Lasers
Through the use of an organic dye, short pulses of yellow colored light are produced. A popular yellow light laser is the pulsed dye laser. Because yellow light is more precisely absorbed by the hemoglobin than other colors, these lasers are effective in the treatment of blood vessel disorders, such as port wine stains, red birthmarks, enlarged blood vessels, rosacea, hemangiomas and red-nose syndrome. Certain yellow light lasers may also be used to treat stretch marks and are safe and effective for infants and children.
The Diolite 532™ laser is the instrument of choice for certain vascular lesions (facial telangiectasia, cherry angiomas, spider angiomas, rosacea) and pigmented lesions (lentigines, keratoses, freckles, dematosis papulosis nigra). It offers an excellent and consistent outcome with minimal or no discoloration, swelling, or complications. Treatments with this laser are particularly friendly and gentle for the patient, typically being performed without anesthesia or pain and requiring only minimal pre- and post-operative care.
In addition to treating individual red and brown spots, the Diolite™ 532 laser has the capability of treating more widespread imperfections via the use of theScanlite scanner, a handheld computer pattern generator with which large areas can be treated more effectively and efficiently. In this manner, a nonablative photofacial treatment can be achieved.
Lastly, leg vein treatments with this laser can be achieved for any small, superficial red vessels, especially those that do not respond to sclerotherapy (see section on sclerotherapy).
Other Applications: Hair Removal and Leg Veins
Laser technology is presently being utilized for efficient and long-lasting body hair removal. The laser energy causes thermal injury to the hair follicle, stunting hair growth. Several laser hair-removal systems, including the Neodymium:YAG (Nd:YAG) laser, the long-pulsed alexandrite laser, and the diode laser are being used successfully with long-lasting results.
Until recently, lasers were used primarily for superficial facial veins. Thanks to the newest technologies, leg veins may be effectively treated with a variety of lasers and intense pulsed light systems.