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Forging New Ground with Laser Treatments in Dermatology

Updated on May 27, 2014
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Making New Ground in Dermatology

Dermatologists have a wide variety of tools at their disposal to treat all kinds of conditions relating to the skin, nails and hair. Lasers play a large role in the treatment of all three. Lasers are most commonly associated with treatments to the skin. Thanks to ongoing research the capability of lasers is improving the results both treatment wise and cosmetically. Below we will touch on some of the new advancements making lasers better than ever.

Laser Types

Dermatologists first used Argon and Carbon Dioxide lasers 40 years ago, when the field was first discovered. The treatments were isolated to birthmarks. While this was ground breaking technology at the time the results were not great with the scar rate way above the levels which would be considered unacceptable in today’s society. Thankfully these lasers have become obsolete with new lasers generally using a pulsed system or quasi-CWS mode lasers getting results unthinkable just 20 years ago.

Laser Variations

The laser used in each procedure will vary based on the precise issue to be treated. Lesions, pigmented lesions, tattoos, acne, wrinkles, sun damaged skin, scars and hair removal all are best treated in different ways. The first solution in lasers was an impractical one size fits all approach.

Hair Removal

Previously permanent hair removal could only be done one way, electrolysis. Electrolysis takes a lot of time and is known to be painful. Lasers have evolved to be a much more efficient method to get rid of hair saving both time and pain. Complications are very rare and while it may not be permanent, you only need to get treatment every 3 - 6 months with regrowth becoming less and less of an issue with the more treatments. The most suited lasers are long pulsed ruby and Alexandrite lasers.

Wrinkles, Scars and Sun Damage

Pulsed CO2 lasers are the best method for repairing these skin imperfections. The side effects are tenderness, redness and swelling which unfortunately can take up to a few weeks to disappear for some. With darker skinned people, permanent pigmentation is possible so a thorough consultation is wise before going ahead in this case. There have been some recent developments of a new form of treatment for these issues, non-ablative lasers avoids heating up the surface of the skin which with continued development may remove many of the known side effects.

Pigmented Lesions and Tattoos

QS Laser systems with short bursts of high energy pulses can help lighten and even remove freckles and birthmarks. The variation in results is the individual levels of melanin and skin color and therefore some believe that the results are highly unpredictable in some cases. Tattoos can be removed with QS lasers with the color of the ink determining the variation best suited. Multiple treatments are normally required, with anywhere between two and ten required.

When kids are running around playing laser tag in arcades, they will often think back to the Star Wars movies. Little do they know, helping them in the future when it comes to skin, nails and hair disorders could be these lasers. Advancements have revolutionized the dermatology industry in the last 20 years. Dermatology however is not yet main stream, if the industry continues to evolve as fast as it is that will change.

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