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Laser And Intense Pulsed Light Applications
What Is A Laser?
Laser stands for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Lasers work by producing an intense beam of bright light that travels in one direction. The laser beam can cut, seal or vaporize skin tissue and blood vessels. The laser has the unique ability to produce one specific color (wavelength) of light that can be varied in its intensity and pulse duration. Ordinary light from non-laser sources is composed of many different colors and appears white. This broad spectrum of light can also be pulsed to a specific duration and varied in intensity as well as the exact range of wavelengths. This allows broad spectrum Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) the ability to specifically treat blood vessels and pigmentation. The wavelength and power output of a particular laser or IPL typically determines its medical application. When the laser or IPL light is directed at skin tissue, its light energy is absorbed by water or pigments found in the skin. Water is found in large amounts in all living cells. Pigments of the skin include hemoglobin, a protein that makes blood red, and melanin, the tan or brown-colored pigment. All three targets absorb laser light of different colors.
What Are The Benefits Of Laser And/Or IPL Surgery?
Lasers may offer you and your dermasurgeon the following general benefits:
What Type Of Laser Or IPL Should Be Used?
Different types of lasers and IPL are used to treat a variety of skin conditions, birthmarks and growths and cosmetic complaints. Presently, no single laser or IPL is capable of treating all skin conditions, but certain lasers can be tuned to a variety of colors of light or coupled to a robotized scanning device to expand their clinical effectiveness. Your dermasurgeon will carefully evaluate your individual condition and suggest the appropriate type of laser and/or IPL system to achieve the best results.
Who Is Qualified To Perform Laser And/Or IPL Surgery?
Experts in skin care, dermasurgeons have extensive training and experience with laser and IPL surgery. In fact, most of the latest advances in laser and IPL technology and its applications were pioneered and refined by dermasurgeons.
What Are The Common Lasers And IPL Used In Dermasurgery?
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Laser
The CO2 laser system can be used in several ways: "focused" for cutting skin without bleeding; "defocused" for superficially vaporizing skin; and "ultra pulsed" for facial resurfacing. By delivering very powerful, rapid pulsing or scanning of the latest generation of CO2 lasers, dermasurgeons are able to resurface the skin for cosmetic improvement. This technique removes fine lines and wrinkles of the face, smoothes acne scars, and rejuvenates aging and sun-damaged skin as it contours the skin surface.
When the CO2 laser's energy is defocused and not continuous (pulsed), the dermasurgeon can treat warts, shallow tumors and certain precancerous conditions.
When the CO2 laser energy is continuous and focused into a small spot of light, the beam is able to cut the skin. It is used in this way to remove skin cancers, to treat a variety of nonvascular and pigmented lesions and for eyelid operations. This technique is also used to remove warts and for some surgical incisions.
Erbium (Er):YAG Laser
The high-powered erbium:YAG (Er:YAG) laser produces energy in a wavelength that gently penetrates the skin, is readily absorbed by water and scatters the heat effects of the laser light. These properties enable dermasurgeons to remove thin layers of aged and sun-damaged skin tissue with exquisite precision while protecting healthy surrounding tissue. The Er:YAG laser is commonly used for skin resurfacing to improve moderate facial wrinkles, mild surface scars or splotchy skin discolorations. Newer Er:YAG lasers have an extended pulse duration that allows them to act in a similar manner to the CO2 laser. Your dermasurgeon is best able to determine which of these lasers, alone or in combination, are best suited to correct your specific concern.
Yellow Light Lasers
Through the use of an organic dye, short pulses of yellow-colored light are produced. A popular yellow light laser is the pulsed dye laser. Because yellow light is more precisely absorbed by the hemoglobin than other colors, these lasers are effective in the treatment of blood vessel disorders, such as port wine stains, red birthmarks, enlarged blood vessels, rosacea, hemangiomas and red-nose syndrome.
>Certain yellow light lasers may also be used to treat stretch marks and are safe and effective for infants and children. The krypton and Nd:YAG lasers are dual light systems. The uses of the yellow light are similar to those already described.
The green light, in contrast, is used for the treatment of benign brown pigmented lesions, such as café-au-lait spots, the "old age" spots commonly found on the backs of the hands and lentigines or freckles. Green light lasers are also used for the treatment of small blood vessels on the face and legs.
Red Light Lasers
The red light spectrum produced by the ruby or alexandrite light laser is emitted in extremely short, high-energy pulses due to a technique known as Q-switching. The Q-switched ruby or alexandrite laser systems were initially used to remove tattoos, but are now commonly used to treat many brown pigmented lesions, such as freckles or café-au-lait spots.
When the pulse duration of the ruby or alexandrite lasers is lengthened, it is effective in removing unwanted hair for long periods of time, sometimes even permanently.
The Q-Switched Neodymium Yag (Nd: Yag)
Delivering infrared light, it is used to remove tattoos and deep dermal pigmented lesions, such as nevus of Ota. This laser can also be tuned to produce a green light for the treatment of superficial pigmented lesions like brown spots, as well as orange-red tattoos.
The KTP emits a green light and is capable of treating certain red and brown pigmented lesions. When the pulse duration is lengthened, the Nd:YAG laser is also effective in removing hair and an inflammatory condition termed pseudofolliculitis barbae for months and sometimes permanently. This is particularly useful in the treatment of dark-skinned patients.
New Technologies: Non-Ablative Lasers And Light Sources
Instead of heating and removing the top skin tissue, non-ablative (non-wounding) lasers work beneath the surface skin layer to improve skin tone and texture and minimize fine lines with few side effects and a speedy recovery. Light-based devices that produce a broad spectrum of light (wavelengths) with computer-controlled parameters of energy delivery (Intense Pulsed Light, or IPL) can be adjusted according to a patient's skin type and condition. This technology is primarily used for the treatment of benign red and brown lesions, hair removal and facial skin rejuvenation.
Other Applications: Hair Removal And Leg Veins
Laser technology is presently being utilized for efficient and long-lasting body hair removal. The laser energy causes thermal injury to the hair follicle, stunting hair growth. Several laser hair-removal systems, including the diode laser, the long-pulsed alexandrite and Nd:YAG lasers and the IPL, are being used successfully with long-lasting results.
Until recently, lasers were used primarily for superficial facial veins. Thanks to the newest technologies, leg veins may be effectively treated with a variety of lasers and intense pulsed light systems.
Make an Appointment | Dr. Anne Dacko | Dr. Kathleen Vine | Debbie Arteaga
General Dermatology | Mohs | DermaSurgery | Cosmetic Dermatology | Laser Surgery
Locations: Flatiron, NYC | Breezy Point, Queens
928 Broadway, Suite 301
New York, NY 10010
Between 21st and 22nd
Phone: (646) 421-6064
Fax: (646) 843-4701