Finding the right solution for your skin problems can be challenging. Your skin might not respond well to ointments, oral medications, and other more traditional options. In recent decades, however, lasers have become increasingly useful tools in the field of dermatology. From clearing up stretch marks to tattoo removal and so much more, laser therapies can help treat a number of cosmetic conditions and skin diseases.
In regards to dermatology, “laser therapy” is an umbrella term for different types of laser-based treatments that target specific skin problems using light/heat energy of various strengths/wavelengths and from different sources (i.e. CO2, argon, Alexandrite, and more). Lasers were first used for dermatological purposes over 40 years ago to help lighten the appearance of birthmarks. At the time, this type of treatment, while somewhat effective, often yielded scarring. Over the past several decades, laser treatments have become more effective, safer, and varied in their use.
While there are dozens of laser systems out there for dermatological use, they can be split into two main categories: ablative and non-ablative. Simply put, ablative laser therapies remove targeted portions of skin while non-ablative therapies minimize damage to the skin while heating up and stimulating the dermal collagen. Both types of laser therapy have multiple uses.
Today, lasers can be used to “correct” most anomalies found on the skin with minimal side effects. Here are some of the most common cosmetic applications for laser therapy.
Stretch marks and other types of scars can be faded over time with the aid of certain laser therapies -- more specifically, pulsed-dye lasers (PDL), which emit high-energy bursts of light in certain intervals, and fractional lasers that help smooth out older stretch marks and scars.
Lasers have become the go-to method for tattoo removal. During this process, the laser breaks down the particles of ink that form a given tattoo, which the body then filters out through the lymphatic system. Different types of lasers may be used to remove different colors of ink, so single-colored tattoos are the easiest to diminish.
Bulging veins (i.e. varicose or spider veins) can also be removed via laser therapies. The 1064 nm Nd:Yag laser, KTP laser, and long-pulsed Alexandrite and diode lasers are currently regarded as powerful options for clearing up these veins.
Many patients now seek laser resurfacing treatments to combat signs of aging as well. Dermal Optical Thermolysis (DOT) therapy, in particular, can help reduce wrinkles, even out skin tone, diminish acne scarring, and more. Other options like Fraxel Re:pair (an ablative laser) can resurface soft tissues in order to improve pigmentation, reduce redness and broken blood vessels, and smooth out crow’s feet. And Fraxel Re:Store (non-ablative) offers similar advantages by promoting the body’s natural collagen production.
As laser technology improves and dermatologists learn more about their applications, more patients can enjoy the many benefits of such therapies. Whether you suffer from stretch marks, signs of aging, acne, scars, or simply want to get rid of an old tattoo, lasers might hold the key. Talk to your dermatologist about laser therapies to see if these options might be right for your skin type and needs. In the meantime, the experts at Premier Dermatology Partners are here to provide more information regarding all kinds of laser therapies.
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