For many, the word laser conjures images of light-based pointers used to enhance presentations. A laser is a unique form of light. It is quite different from a light bulb or a flash light. Laser devices generate visible or invisible light, based on stimulated emission of light. The word L.AS.E.R. is actually an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Use of laser is not limited to just physics labs and scientists. Lasers are commonly used in the military, industry, and medicine.
One common medical application of laser technology is treatment of skin conditions. Dermatologists have used lasers for over four decades for both medical and cosmetic reasons. As technology has advanced, thousands of lasers have been developed to target specific concerns, such as redness and sun damage. Lasers are as varied as the issues they treat. Each laser produces a specific wavelength, that wavelength is then used to target a specific component of the skin. When the laser is administered, it delivers energy to the target to treat the unwanted skin condition. A thorough examination of the skin with a qualified and experienced dermatology provider can help determine which type of laser technology is most appropriate for your specific concerns.
Facial redness, unwanted blood vessels, and rosacea are common dermatologic ailments that can be effectively treated with laser. Lasers targeting hemoglobin – a component of blood – are used to treat red vascular lesions. Examples of vascular lesions include facial redness, fine vessels, and birthmarks. There are several lasers that are engineered to treat only vascular components of the skin.
An exciting advancement in dermatology is a device that can treat facial redness and brown spots caused by sun damage. Intense pulsed light (IPL) and Broad Band Light (BBL) devices emit a variety of wavelengths. BBL has filter applications to target several different components in the skin. Thus, BBL devices can treat both red vascular lesions and brown sun spots in the same treatment session. BBL can also be used to treat acne by directing energy to acne-worsening bacteria. Often, a series of treatments is needed to achieve the desired result. Light based devices have minimal downtime and makeup can be worn the very same day as treatment.
Lasers are also used to resurface the skin. Resurfacing lasers have medical and cosmetic applications, including treatment of pre-cancerous skin changes and anti-aging skin rejuvenation. These types of lasers work by delivering controlled energy at precise depths in the skin. As the skin heals, collagen and elastin generation and remodeling occurs. Resurfacing lasers such as the Sciton® Halo™ can dramatically improve skin quality by reversing sun damage, softening the skin, and removing brown spots. These types of lasers can often cause modest swelling and peeling of the skin that resolves in several days.
Lastly, laser hair removal is one of the most popular laser treatments. The laser targets a component of the hair follicle that stops hair growth. Dark hair responds most effectively to laser hair removal. A series of treatments are needed for permanent hair removal, although significant hair reduction occurs following each treatment. Laser hair removal is effective, safe, and permanent.
Above all, safety is essential for a proper laser treatment. Visit a reputable dermatology clinic for a consultation to discuss which laser device is right for your skin condition. Ensure that your provider is qualified and the treatment setting is safe. Laser is a powerful tool that can produce positive results when performed correctly.
Leighanne McGill, PA-C and the team at The Dermatology & Laser Center, under the direction of Dr. Chris Adigun, offer a comprehensive dermatology practice that delivers the highest quality care through careful patient evaluation and personalized treatment.
The Center is located in The Veranda at Briar Chapel: 58 Chapelton Court, Suite 120, Chapel Hill. Contact via phone, 919.942.2922, or online at: DermatologyAndLaserCenterOfChapelHill.com