Skin Tags, Lesions, Pigmentation & Capillaries
What is laser and what does it do?
Our Copper Bromide laser can be programmed to emit yellow light, which is absorbed by blood vessels, or green light, which is absorbed by brown pigments. The colours may be used in combination. Other lasers (not at this clinic) used to treat similar conditions do not have this feature which not only makes the machine more versatile but enables us to ‘fine tune’ it for your specific lesion, with less complications.
The Yellow light is used for the treatment of:
- Port wine stains (red birthmarks)
- Telangiectasis (broken capillaries & veins)
- Spider naevi
- Cherry angiomas
- Venous lakes
The Green light is used for the treatment of:
- Benign pigmented lesions, such as freckles
The Combined light is used to test:
- Solar keratosis (sunspots)
- Seborrheic keratosis (age warts)
- Benign papules (skin tags)
How does the laser work?
The red component of blood (haemoglobin) strongly absorbs the yellow light, while other skin components (sweat glands, hair follicles, collagen & elastin) do not absorb this light energy. Therefore, the laser coagulates the abnormally dilated blood vessels (broken capillaries, red birthmarks), without damaging the skin in which they lie. Over the following 3-6 weeks, the laser-treated vessels are replaced by microscopic fibrous tissue or a smaller, less noticeable vessel. The skin surrounding each vessel receives a mild heat injury, which resolves without scar formation.
The green light of the laser is absorbed by the brown tissue, causing a very specific localised burn to the blemish being tested, but minimal damage to the surrounding skin. This is called selective photocoagulation.
Is the laser dangerous?
The laser penetrates the skin to a maximum depth of 1mm, so it cannot affect deeper tissues. However, the eye can be easily injured, therefore special goggles or eye shields are used when the laser is in operation. The laser does not produce any rays known to be harmful long-term, such as x-rays, gamma rays, U.V. light etc.
Does it work the same for everyone?
Several factors contribute to the differing responses between patients, the site of the vessels and the depth in the skin. Small superficial red vessels respond better than large deeper, blue ones. Most veins on the legs will not respond to any laser. These can be successfully treated with micro-sclerotherapy (and combination laser treatment), which is performed regularly in these rooms.
Skin colour is also important. Darkly pigmented, suntanned or fake-tanned skin is unsuitable for laser therapy, as the laser light cannot pass through the layer of pigment to reseal the blood vessels.
What can I expect during and after treatment?
Broken capillaries and other red lesions can be easily treated without any anaesthesia. The sensation is similar to a very quick, hot pinprick, three times per second. It feels similar to electrolysis or waxing. The treated vessels vanish immediately, and the skin becomes flushed for a few hours. This is usually gone by the next day.
If a large number of vessels are treated, there may be some swelling especially under the eyes. Only in the most severe cases does this last for more than 24 to 48 hours. The day after treatment the vessels may seem to reappear, but will progressively shrivel and fade over 5 to 7 days.
Some minor skin flaking may be noticed up to a week after treatment. Make-up may be worn immediately after treatment. Sunscreen is essential, not only to protect the treated skin but to minimise recurrence of the problem.
Any remaining vessels may be treated eight weeks or later. Repeat treatments do not harm the skin. Generally, only one or two treatments are needed for 90% clearance of unwanted vessels. The second treatment is usually only half the duration of the first. The need for second treatment is the decision of the patient, not the treating doctor.
Prominent blood vessels on the nose (especially the sides and the tip) and the chin are often more resistant to laser treatment. These are in fact, anatomically normal vessels that are enlarged and therefore visible. A combination of micro sclerotherapy and laser helps reduce these more efficiently.
Brown blemishes are treated with the green light of the laser. The sensation is similar to that for treating blood vessels, sometimes a little stronger. Brown spots darken initially, then form a dry scab and drop off over 7 – 10 days. Often a pink patch is left for 3-4 weeks. Scarring is rare, but occasionally the final result is a spot slightly paler than the surrounding skin.
Do the lesions recur?
Recurrence of dilated capillaries is related to hereditary predisposition, past history of sun exposure(especially during childhood) and some diseases such as Rosacea. Most people will not need another treatment for several years.
Most types of brown spots will continue to arise during life. Treated lesions recur rarely, but new ones cannot be prevented.
Most laser treatments do not attract Medicare rebates, as they are considered cosmetic. There are some exceptions such as birthmarks and solar keratoses (sunspots). This treatment is only available in Toowoomba.