Laser Skin Treatments
Brenda LaTowsky, MD, is a dermatologist on staff at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, Ariz.
Question: How do laser skin treatments work and what conditions are they appropriate for?
Answer: Many people are unaware of the many amazing things that lasers can do. Over the years, laser technologies have advanced in both safety and effectiveness in treating a variety of skin, pigment and vascular conditions. Different types of lasers have been developed to treat different conditions.
Lasers, which may be used individually or in combination, have been successful in detecting and treating a wide variety of conditions, such as acne and acne scars, surgical scars, sunspots, excessive hair, red stretch marks, and warts. Lasers are also commonly used in the removal of birthmarks and tattoos, as well as for the rejuvenation of wrinkled or sun damaged skin.
With the latest advancements in laser therapy, lasers can accurately pinpoint and treat affected areas without harming surrounding tissue. In treating skin conditions, lasers remove outer layers of skin until the damaged layers are gently stripped away. Once the new, unaffected layer of skin is revealed, the healing process can generate younger and healthier looking skin.
Vascular laser treatments for conditions such as rosacea, spider veins and hemangiomas, use intense light to destroy the blood vessels causing the problem spots, while leaving other surrounding tissues unharmed and intact.
While they are extremely effective, most laser treatments produce some amount of discomfort. The amount of pain depends on the device used, the condition being treated, and the aggressiveness of the treatment. To keep discomfort to a minimum, numbing cream, nerve blocks, injections of numbing medication and oral pain medications may be administered before the procedure.
It is important to know that the choice of laser, as well as treatment settings, need to be adjusted for individual patients based on their skin type, desired treatment results and amount of sun exposure. Therefore, prior to undergoing any type of laser procedure, it is essential that patients seek out a dermatologist with the proper education, training and experience necessary to administer laser therapy safely and effectively.