Cosmetic Uses for Lasers
Fine Lines and Wrinkles:
For treating lines and wrinkles, a combination of skin resurfacing and skin-tightening procedures can be used or both can be accomplished with a more aggressive ablative laser, such as a CO2 (carbon dioxide) laser or Erbium YAG. The CO2 laser is also commonly used for the removal of warts and skin tags and for cutting skin in laser-assisted surgery. Non laser, light-based treatments, such as IPL and LED photofacial are less aggressive.
Most cosmetic laser procedures provide some level of superficial tightening at the least, because they produce a controlled injury of the skin, which encourages increased collagen production. For more significant tightening results, though, CO2 lasers are the laser of choice.
The most-commonly used lasers for the treatment of pigmented lesions, such as sun spots, age spots melasma and other forms of hyperpigmentation are the Q switch Nd: YAG and fractional lasers, along with non laser, light-based treatments, such as IPL.
Vascular lesions include broken blood vessels on the face, unsightly veins on the legs, spider nevi, hemangiomas and certain birth marks such as port wine stains. For these types of skin irregularities, IPL is a common choice, as it is minimally invasive. Also popular for treating these lesions are the pulsed dye, Nd: YAG and diode lasers.
Q switch Nd: YAG remains popular for tattoo removal, although some success can also be had with the use of IPL.
The success and safety of laser hair removal is highly dependent on the pigment present in both the skin and the hair of the patient being treated. For darker-skinned patients, the Nd: YAG and diode lasers are often the lasers of choice, and for lighter-skinned patients, IPL has proved effective.
Acne and Acne Scars:
For deeper acne scars, the fractional CO2 laser remains the gold standard, although certain nonablative lasers have shown considerable success on more superficial acne scarring. For the treatment of active acne, LED technology has proven to be quite effective.
There are many different modalities of light-based technology being used in the world of cosmetic surgery today. Though these methods are often referred to as “laser” procedures, the devices being used are not actually true lasers. These technologies include IPL, LED treatments, infrared energy-based technologies and radio-frequency based procedures.