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

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

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

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.

Wrinkles

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

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

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 treatments.

Tattoo removal

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.

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