Laser Pigment Treatment

LASER PIGMENT TREATMENT PATIENT INFORMATION

WHAT TYPE OF PIGMENTED LESIONS CAN BE TREATED WITH THE LASER?

The pigmented lesions have been called sunspots, age spots, skin discolorations, liver spots and freckles. The most common areas where they are seen are on the face, arms or hands. They can develop at any age and women with hormonal changes caused by pregnancy or medications can also develop these lesions.

HOW DOES THE LASER WORK?

Laser therapy targets the melanin in your skin, the substance that gives your skin its color.  The pigmented lesions have a much higher concentration of pigment. The laser delivers pulses of light over the melanin and destroys it, ultimately restoring the skin to its natural color, with minimal contact to surrounding normal skin.

WHAT OTHER WAYS CAN PIGMENTED LESIONS BE TREATED?

Treatment options for these lesions include topical therapy with non-prescription and/or prescription medication, liquid nitrogen, chemical peels other devices (IPL) and surgery to name a few.  All these therapies have variable results.

HOW MANY TREATMENTS ARE NEEDED?

Typically the majority of pigmented lesions are gone with 1 treatment.  However, if new lesions appear, additional treatments are required for optimum results.  Treatments are typically spaced every 4 to 6 weeks.

HOW DO I PREPARE FOR TREATMENT?

  • Do not tan, do not use self-tanning products or expose the area to be treated to extreme light or sun for 2 weeks prior to each treatment.
  • Shave the area of any hair prior to treatment
  • Avoid the use of any medications known to increase photosensitivity for 2 weeks before treatment (see list).
  • Avoid taking medication such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Aleve to minimize bruising 2 weeks before treatment.
  • Remove all topical products such as lotions and make-up before treatment.

WHAT HAPPENS ON THE TREATMENT DAY?

Protective eye goggles will be used during the actual treatment.  Pulses of light will be directed at the pigmented lesion. The sensation is similar to that of a rubber band snapping. Generally, no anesthesia is required. Typical tissue response to the laser is a white appearance or the treated lesion.  Then turns a red color typically resolving in 24 hours or less.  The treated lesions will darken and within 5-7 days fall off.  Bruising although rare may last up to 1 to 2 weeks.

WHAT PRECAUTIONS SHOULD I TAKE AFTER TREATMENT?

  • Avoid exposure to intense light/sun and avoid sun-tanning product for 2 weeks.
  • Avoid Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Aleve for at least 1 week.
  • Use 30 SPF sun block if sun exposure is unavoidable.

WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS AND RISKS?

Existing laser research and clinical evidence indicate that laser surgery is safe; however, there is no guarantee that your condition can be treated completely by laser.  Although side effects from this procedure are minimal, a small risk of the following can occur:

  • Skin lightening (hypopigmentation)
  • Swelling
  • Skin darkening (hyperpigmentation)
  • Allergic reaction to ointment or other contactant
  • Infection
  • Activation of cold sores (herpes simplex)
  • Skin texture change
  • Incomplete removal of lesion
  • Scarring (rare, possibly permanent)
  • Purpura (red-purple discoloration, bruising)
  • Burns, blisters, scabbing, crusting

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