Types of Skin Conditions Treated with Laser
Laser surgery for skin conditions
Many different types of lesions and skin conditions can be treated with laser surgery.
Your healthcare provider will decide if you are a candidate for the particular surgery.
The following is a brief overview of some of the skin conditions that can be treated
with laser surgery:
Port-wine stains are capillary problems that are present at birth (congenital). The
color of this birthmark is usually pink, red, or purple. Fewer than 1 in 100 (0.03%) children
are born with port-wine stains. As the child grows, the mark may become darker. Port-wine
stains can appear on any part of the body and can vary in size. The type of laser
usually used for this condition is the pulsed dye laser. A pulsed dye laser is a type
of laser that makes a short, high-energy flash of light. The light is colored when
it passes through a dye. The color of the dye can be changed, depending on the type
of pigmented skin spots that are being treated. Adults may have this procedure done as
an outpatient with only local anesthesia. Children or people with large port-wine
stains may be treated under general anesthesia. You may need multiple treatments.
Hemangiomas are a common vascular birthmark. About 1 in 10 Caucasians have hemangiomas.
Hemangiomas may vary in appearance from red, raised patches to deeper, purple areas.
Hemangiomas usually appear within the first month of life. They grow rapidly for the
first year, and usually go away by age 9. Half of hemangiomas become smaller naturally
by age 5. Hemangiomas are either just on the skin surface (superficial) or deep. Your
child may need surgery or medicine if he or she has large or growing hemangiomas,
or hemangiomas that are causing problems because of where they are. Your child may
need multiple treatments.
Café au lait macules
These are tan-colored lesions that may appear anywhere on the body. The size of the
lesions varies. Some of these lesions can be very large. You may want to have them
removed. A variety of lasers may be used to remove these spots. They often come back.
Telangiectasias are small blood vessels that are located under the surface of the
skin. The vessels may appear red, purple, or blue. The most common places these are
seen include the face, upper chest, and neck. Related vessels can be found in the
legs, called spider veins. Removal is usually for cosmetic reasons.
There are many causes of telangiectasia, including heredity, sun damage, hot and spicy
foods, emotions, hormones, some medications, and adult acne. Treatment of these lesions
may include lasers or sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy is a procedure in which a small
needle is used to inject medication into the vessels, causing them to shrink. New
vessels may continue to develop throughout the person's life, depending on the underlying
cause of the lesions.
The use of lasers to help remove wrinkles is one of the great advances in cosmetic
plastic surgery. Laser peel is the term used to describe this procedure. This type
of wrinkle removal process is safer than other ways of removing wrinkles when done
by an experienced surgeon. There is less of a chance of scarring, swelling, and crusting
with the laser peel. Before the actual surgery, your doctor may prescribe facial medicines
for you to use to help prepare your skin. You may use these medicines for 4 to 6 weeks
before the laser peel. After the laser peel, your doctor will explain how to care
for your skin to prevent crusts from forming and to prevent infection. Many different
types of lasers may be used for laser peels.
Warts are growths of skin or membrane that are not cancer. Warts are caused by the
human papillomavirus and are often hard to get rid of. Many types of treatments have
been used for wart removal. These include surgery, medicines, and freezing the wart. You
may need multiple treatments until the wart is gone.
Scars may form for many different reasons, including infections, surgery, injuries,
or inflammation of tissue. A scar is the body's natural way of healing and replacing
lost or damaged skin. Scars may appear anywhere on the body. Scars may be flat, lumpy,
sunken, colored, painful, itchy, or a combination of these. Your doctor may treat
your scar with different lasers, depending on what caused the scar. Your doctor may
use lasers may be used to smooth a scar, remove the abnormal color, or flatten the
scar. Most laser therapy for scars is done along with other treatments. These may
include steroid injections, special dressings, and bandages. You may need multiple
Tattoos can be of several types. One type is called decorative tattoos. These are placed
for skin decoration. Cosmetic tattoos (permanent cosmetics) include tattooed eyeliner or
lipstick. Traumatic tattoos happen because of trauma that embeds a foreign substance
such as dirt in the skin. Medical tattoos are placed by a doctor as marks for radiation
therapy. Amateur tattoos are done by nonprofessionals. Many things can affect how
well laser surgery can remove a tattoo. These include your age, skin type, type of
tattoo, age of the tattoo, color of the tattoo, size and depth of the tattoo, and
whether the tattoo was done by a professional or an amateur. Some ink colors may be
completely resistant to laser treatment. Laser treatment of tattoos breaks up the
color without damaging normal skin. Your body then removes the pieces of pigment without
leaving a scar. You may need multiple treatments.