I come across patients who when I recommend a laser treatment start imagining a laser emitting from the ‘death star’ in ‘star wars’. Fortunately in this case, fact does deviate a lot from fiction.
Lasers have been used in medical treatments for a few decades now and some of them fall under extremely safe to use devices. LASER if you must know is an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation” which in lay terms means a focused beam of light of a certain wavelength and that is all it really is….Light.
From surgeries to therapies for various parts of the body and for various symptoms lasers are now common place. In dermatology and cosmetology some of the common uses of lasers are:
Treatment of Pigmentation (Skin Toning, reducing birth marks etc)
Permanent reduction of Hair
Reduction of Acne Scars
Reduction / Removal of tattoos
So what laser works for pigmentation?
Q switched – ND Yag is a type of laser that is used by us in treatment of pigmentation… This includes toning of skin as well as for helping eliminate some more intense pigmentation conditions like melasma, birth marks etc. Of course the settings and methods of exposure are different in different cases.
ND Yag : This refers to the type of crystal used in generating the exact laser wavelength. The wavelength in this question is 532nm and 1064 nm both of which find uses in the skin conditions.
Q Switch : It refers to the ability of the laser machine to create very short pulses of laser by means of switching the laser on an off at a very high rate. This ensures that we are able to control the absorption of laser into the pigment without damaging the skin.
But really how safe is it? And does it really work?
In fact, laser based skin toning or rejuvenation treatment is far safer than most facials done by beauty parlours.
Do you even know what goes into the facial chemicals and do you know if they are approved by FDA? The general answer to this is NO.
Yet unfortunately more people are willing to trust unqualified treatments at beauty parlours as it is the general convention.
A simple web search of established and verified medical journals for laser skin toning will put you at ease and I highly recommend the same.
So how do I look better when I undergo a laser skin rejuvenation treatment exactly?
For various effects desired on the skin different types of lasers are used. For the purpose of skin rejuvenation we basically work on evening the tone of the skin by affecting the pigment present in the skin.
On exposure to sun and other external stimuli the skin tends to turn patchy or unevenly toned as the melanin distribution becomes uneven. On exposure to laser the areas of skin with higher concentration of pigment, the pigment absorbs more of the light energy and tends to breakdown. This basically leads to an overall even appearance of the skin tone.
And what about dark marks and spots?
As mentioned the same laser can be used on concentrated pigment bases lesions with different settings and exposure techniques to reduce the intensity of the lesion and also in a lot of cases to completely eliminate the pigmentation.
So what are these different types of conditions which this laser can treat?
Here’s a long but not complete list of conditions that can be treated with this laser:
– Lentigenes ( age spots)
– Uneven skin tone
– Patchy skin
– Pigmentation due to hormonal imbalance
– Acne marks
– Large pores
– Fine lines, wrinkles
– Certain birth marks
– Fine hair reduction
PS: You know you can even get rid of that tattoo that you do not want anymore… with the help of this laser
But do I qualify for laser treatment?
Lasers for purpose of skin treatment are generally very safe when done under medical supervision. However there are some things that one must care for before undergoing a treatement:
1) Avoid Laser treatments during pregnancy
2) Never do it when having an active skin infection
3) Never do it if you suffer from any chronic skin condition that involves skin pigmentation like vitiligo.
The above apply to most skin treatments which are optional. And as always, if in doubt do not hesitate to ask your dermatologist.
So what do I expect in the procedure?
The procedure involves an initial cleanup of the face, following which a trained aesthetician under medical supervision uses the laser on effected area or the entire face. The treatment is governed by the doctor and the intensity and other settings are adjusted to suit the patient.
The procedure is safe with no down time. During the procedure the patient experiences some heat on the treated skin. Sometimes the patient may experience minor redness, swelling or bruising. However the same disappears within a few hours to few days. Post procedure care is minimum with primary focus on reduction of sun exposure and usage of sun screens.
What can I expect as results and When?
It is important to understand that this is a medical procedure and results will vary from individual to individual based on age, diet, lifestyle, individual’s constitution and the exact condition an individual is suffering from.
The treated area is seen to be lighter in tone. In case of full face treatment the entire face seems to have a more even skin tone with a glow.
In case of more severe conditions like melasma and birth marks there are multiple sessions needed and with each session there is a gradual but definite reduction in the pigmentation.
Do I need to keep doing this treatment?
Well the human body keeps ageing and also our life style keeps exposing our skin to sun, pollution and other environment factors. Depending on your lifestyle the skin will tend to lose its ‘glow’ in a few weeks time, however with multiple sessions spread over a period of time you will see sustained results.
I always recommend that no matter what skin treatment you undergo, more than the treatment itself it is more important to take proper post procedure care like reduced exposure to sun light, wearing a sun screen etc.
As always on a parting note, I would advise everyone that beautiful skin is not about how many procedures you can afford and do, but is more about keeping a good routine. Follow my basic skin care tips (you can find it here : https://inurskn.in/skin-care-habits/ ) and trust me, I hope you will need less and less skin procedures and external interventions of any kind be it a visit to beauty parlour or a skin doctor.
Built on more than a decade of experience of Dr. Sejal Saheta, we are the honest and affordable, skin and hair care clinic. Our goal is to make each patient comfortable and happy with their appearance with the least amount of intervention.
Equipped with the latest technology, here qualified and trained doctors conduct and supervise all procedures in strict adherence to protocols developed by Dr. Saheta.
We are happy to be a part of your journey to reach your health goals. If you think we have been able to help you, please do review us:
This article is one in a series of articles on skin conditions by Dr. Sejal Saheta – MD, DNB – Dermatology and Venereology. The objective of this series is to educate the reader and help them take precautions against various skin conditions they come across on an everyday basis. These articles are not meant to be used by patients for self-diagnosis or for avoiding proper medical treatment.