Are laser treatments safe?
Yes. Lasers have been used in medicine for a wide range of treatments since the early 1960s by many specialties. In the hands of a trained healthcare professional, the use of a laser is safe and effective.
How does the laser work?
A laser generates an intense beam of light. This beam brings energy to a specific site, through a small hand piece connected to the laser.
The laser light is absorbed by oxy hemoglobin (bright red blood cells carrying oxygen) and melanin/pigment (black or brown pigment found in the skin) causing decomposition or destruction by heat of unwanted cells while leaving healthy cells intact.
What is a vascular lesion?
A vascular lesion is formed by abnormally large or numerous blood vessels located directly under the surface of the skin. These vessels may be visible through the skin or result in a red appearance of the skin. Spider veins (telangiectasia), shown below, are the most common vascular lesions.
What is a pigmented lesion?
Melanin is the dark pigment present in skin and is produced by melanocytes. Pigmented lesions occur when an abundance of melanocytes are found in the skin. When dark pigment multiplies, it forms freckles, brown age spots and moles. Lentigines, pictured below, are an example of a pigmented lesion.
What should a patient expect during and after treatment?
Treatment may vary, depending upon patient characteristics and the area being treated.
You will be asked to wear special goggles to protect your eyes from the intense beam of laser light.
You will be placed in a reclined position, depending on the location of treatment. The technician will use a pencil thin hand piece to direct a beam of laser light to the lesion. In most cases, anesthesia is not required.
Some patients report feeling a slight stinging sensation during the treatment followed by some redness which usually goes away in 2-4 hours. Some swelling may also be experienced and may last 1-2 days. There will not be any purple skin discoloration or bruised appearance to the treated skin.
Postoperative care is minimal. Your doctor may ask you to use an anti-bacterial ointment on the treated area for a short period of time and will suggest that you stay out of the sun during the healing process.
Final treatment results should be evident within 10-14 days after treatment for vascular lesions and within 2-3 weeks after treatment for pigmented lesions. In the meantime, normal daily activities can be resumed with only a slight redness evident at the treatment area.
What does the laser look and sound like?
The laser is small - about the size of a VCR. As pulses of energy leave the end of the hand piece fiber, you will hear a soft beeping sound.
What conditions are treated with the laser?
• Telangiectasia - facial spider veins caused by a dilation of capillary vessels or arterioles.
• Cherry Angiomas - slightly raised, red lesions
• Spider Angiomas - slightly raised, red spider-like lesions
• Rosacea - red facial lesions around the nose and cheeks causing a sunburn look
• Lentigines - a flat, brown spot on the skin present on skin with frequent sun exposure
• Keratoses - slightly elevated pigmented spots often found on the back and hands
• Freckles - a brownish spot on the skin common on people with fair skin
• Dermatosis Papulosis Nigra - small, black marks seen primarily on people of Asian or African descent
As a patient, what does the laser mean to me? What are the benefits?
• Excellent and consistent outcome - minimal to no discoloration, swelling or complications
• Friendly and gentle treatment - typically performed without anesthesia or pain
• Simple treatment - minimal care before and after treatment
• Comfortable surroundings - treatment is performed in your doctor’s office and takes only minutes