Laser treatments are often used in cosmetic dermatology for the removal of blemishes such as thread veins and birth marks, as well as to stimulate the skin’s natural repair process to combat wrinkles and sun damage.
What is laser skin surgery?
At The Devonshire Clinic, laser surgery is sometimes used as an alternative to traditional surgery involving scalpels to cut the skin. Lasers can cut and cauterise simultaneously with incredible precision, minimising blood loss and scarring and retaining the maximum amount of healthy tissue around the surgery site.
Dermatologists also use lasers to eliminate specific cells on the skin surface to reveal the smoother, newer skin underneath. Laser light can also be focused deeper within the skin to stimulate cell repair with no apparent visible effects on the surface.
Which conditions can be treated with laser surgery?
Different types of laser treatments are used to treat different types of skin condition, and which one is chosen depends on the action of the laser.
These cosmetic skin conditions can all be treated using laser surgery:
- Scarring in the skin due to acne, stretch marks or injury
- Birthmarks, including port wine stains and cafe au lait birthmarks
- Problems with de-colouration or discolouration – age spots, hyperpigmentation, skin redness and tattoos
- Skin cancer: lasers are combined with a cream or injected drug that kill cancer cells when the laser is used at the tumour site. This is photodynamic therapy (PDT)
- Wrinkles, sagging skin, crows feet
- Vascular problems, including leg veins, thread veins, facial redness, angiomas, haemangiomas, venous lakes (blood vessel enlargement on the lips) and telangiectasiae (enlarged blood vessels found anywhere in the skin)
- Acne scarring
- Unwanted excess hair
- Warts, seborrhoeic keratoses
What are the advantages of laser skin surgery?
- Less invasive treatment so shorter recovery time
- Less risk of infection
- Precise control, which protects the surrounding healthy skin
- Smaller, neater incisions mean less scarring
- Faster treatments can often be done as out-patient procedures
What kind of lasers are used?
Two types of laser are used in skin surgery, ablative lasers, which either cut into or vaporise the surface layer of the skin along with any surface blemishes, and non-ablative lasers, which penetrate into the skin without damaging the tissue.
Different lasers use different sources for the laser beam. For example, KTP (potassium titanyl phosphate) lasers are used to treat vascular skin lesions, while Alexandrite lasers are used for hair removal. Laser surgery for skin cancer normally uses a carbon dioxide or erbium YAG laser. Other laser sources include erbium, alexandrite and organic dyes.
Lasers also differ in the way the laser beam is delivered. For example, Q-switched lasers produce very short, intense pulses for as little as 5 nanoseconds. Lasers may also be categorised as single beam or fractional, where the light is split into hundreds of smaller beams to spread the effect more widely within the target tissue.
When you come to our London clinic for laser treatment, whether for medical or cosmetic needs, we will explain which type of laser is to be used, how it works and the effects that it will have on your skin.
Are lasers safe?
In the hands of trained and experienced dermatologists, modern lasers are very safe, have few side effects and allow patients to recover very quickly.
Our dermatologists at The Devonshire Clinic are skilled in selecting the correct laser and the most appropriate laser treatment and technique for your condition to deliver the best results.