There are many different types of lesions and skin conditions that can be
treated with laser surgery. Your doctor 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. Port-wine stains are congenital
(present at birth) capillary malformations. The color of this birthmark
is usually pink, red, or purple. About 0.3% of 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
A pulsed dye laser is a type of laser that has a high
electric lamp that produces 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. Pulse dye laser is the laser of choice for port wine stains.
Adults may have this procedure performed on an outpatient basis with
only local anesthesia. Children or people with large port-wine stains,
may be treated under general anesthesia. Multiple treatments may be
Hemangiomas. Hemangiomas are a common type of vascular
birthmark. About 10% of whites have hemangiomas. Hemangiomas may vary in
appearance, from red, raised patches to deeper, purple areas.
Hemangiomas usually appear within the first month of life, grow rapidly
for the first year, and may start to go away by the time the child is 5
years old. In fact, 50% of hemangiomas become smaller naturally by age
5. Hemangiomas are either superficial or deep. Surgery, injections into
the hemangioma, or an oral medicine called propranolol may be used for
large or growing hemangiomas, or hemangiomas that are causing problems
because of their location. Multiple treatments may be necessary.
Café au lait macules. These are tan-colored lesions that
may appear anywhere on the body. The size of the lesions varies. Some
of the lesions can be very large, and cosmetic removal may be desired.
Recurrence is common.
Telangiectasias. 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.
are many causes of telangiectasia. These include heredity, sun damage,
hot and spicy foods, emotions, hormones, some medicines, and rosacea.
Treatment of these lesions may include lasers or sclerotherapy.
Sclerotherapy is a procedure in which a small needle is used to inject
medicine into the vessels. This causes them to shrink. New vessels may
continue to develop throughout the person's life. It depends on what
caused the lesion to form. KTP and pulse dye lasers are commonly used on
Wrinkles. The use of lasers to help remove wrinkles is
one of the great advances in cosmetic plastic surgery. The term used to
describe this procedure is a laser peel. This type of wrinkle removal
process is safer than other methods of wrinkle removal when performed by
an experienced surgeon. There is less of a chance of scarring,
swelling, and crusting with the laser peel. Newer lasers have fewer side
effects and a shorter recovery period. Prior to the actual surgery,
your health care provider may prescribe facial medicines for you to use
to help prepare your skin. These medicines may be used for 4 to
6 weeks before the laser peel. After the laser peel, your health care
provider will explain proper skin care to prevent crust formation and
infection. Many different types of lasers may be used for laser peels.
Warts. Warts are growths of skin or membrane that are
not malignant (cancerous). Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus
and are often hard to destroy. Many different types of treatments have
been used for wart removal. These include surgical removal, application
of medicines to the wart, or freezing the wart. As a result of the side
effects of these treatments, use of the laser has become acceptable.
Multiple treatments may be necessary until the wart is gone. Pulsed dye
lasers, carbon dioxide lasers, and Q-switched lasers have been shown to
be effective for certain warts.
Scars. Scars may be formed for many different reason.
These include 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. The makeup of a scar may
vary. The scar may be flat, lumpy, sunken, colored, painful, and/or
itchy. Scars may be treated with a variety of different lasers. This
depends on the underlying cause of the scar. Lasers may be used to
smooth a scar, remove the abnormal color of a scar, or flatten a scar.
Most laser therapy for scars is performed in conjunction with other
treatments, like injections of steroids, use of special dressings, and
the use of bandages. Multiple treatments may be necessary.
Tattoo removal. There are several types of tattoos:
decorative tattoos, which are placed for decorative purposes; cosmetic
tattoos, which are known as permanent cosmetics, like permanent eyeliner
or lipstick; traumatic tattoos, which are a result of a trauma that
embeds a foreign substance, like dirt, in the skin; medical tattoos,
like those placed by a health care provider as landmarks for radiation
therapy; and amateur tattoos, done by individuals on themselves or by
nonprofessionals. There are many factors that determine the outcome of
laser surgery on removing tattoos. These include the patient's age, skin
type, type of tattoo, age of the tattoo, color of the tattoo, and size
and depth of the tattoo. Also whether the tattoo was performed by a
professional or an amateur. Some ink colors may be completely resistant
to laser treatment. Laser removal of tattoos breaks up the color without
damaging normal skin. The body then absorbs the pieces of pigment
without leaving a scar unlike previous tattoo removal methods. Multiple
treatments may be necessary.