7 to 10 days
Return to work
Duration of results
12 to 18 months
1 to 3
Pulsed dye lasers deliver an intense burst of light into selectively targeted areas of the skin. The light is absorbed by specific blood vessels or melanin pigmented areas in the epidermis, depending on the condition being treated. Factors such as the age, colour and type of lesions, as well as the location on the body, all determine whether lesions can be removed.
Indications for pulsed dye laser use are:
What does the treatment involve?
Your practitioner will ensure you are as comfortable as possible; most patients lie down, depending upon the area being treated. Both the patient and staff will be wearing protective eyewear. When treatment begins, the laser will be calibrated and the parameters will be set, based on the specific condition being treated.
Treatment parameters are set in consultation with the patient. Standard settings typically produce redness and swelling, resembling a bad sunburn, which will last several days. More aggressive levels, sometimes used to treat marked rosacea or similar conditions, may result in spotty bruising.
Treatment for conditions such as port wine stains usually results in the whole area appearing bruised following treatment.
Does it hurt?
No anaesthetic is required, but most patients describe the effect as like the stinging sensation of a hot elastic band flicked onto the skin. Topical anaesthtic is optional.
Is the treatment safe?
Yes. In fact, the treatment is so safe that it has been successfully used since the 1980s for the treatment of port wine stain birthmarks in infants and young children.
Are the results of pulsed dye laser treatment permanent?
Permanency of results depends on many factors, such as the condition being treated, and the lifestyle of the patient. Conditions such as spider naevi and facial blood vessels will typically clear with therapy. Other conditions, such as rosacea and port wine stains (which are typically caused by ‘internal factors’), do gradually tend to recur. However, excellent improvement is seen for years following successful therapy.
How soon will I see the results of my treatment?
The results of laser therapy are very dependent on the condition that is being treated and the number of treatments required for clearance. Treatments are also dependent upon the energy used to treat the condition. Most patients will note improvement within the first 6 to 8 weeks following treatment.
How many treatments will I require?
This is dependent upon the underlying condition. Patients with redness and visible blood vessels will typically require an average of 2 to 3 treatments. Patients with port wine stains usually require many treatments (an average of six or so) to lighten port wine stains. Facial port wine stains typically do best, whilst more distal areas, such as the hands and lower limbs, typically do relatively poorly.
What are the side-effects of treatment?
It is normal for patients to experience redness and swelling in the treated area immediately following treatment. This will usually go away over the next few days. As previously described, some bruising is not uncommon with more aggressive energy levels, and is to be expected in the treatment of conditions such as port wine stains.
Such bruising fades, as does any bruise, usually over a week or so, with more intense therapies sometimes taking longer.
Following treatment, cold packs are used to help decrease swelling and to help with discomfort. It may be wise to have someone drive you home following treatment, so that you can continue to apply cold compresses. Sleeping on an extra pillow at night can be beneficial to help decrease swelling around the eyes.
Permanent side-effects of pulsed dye laser therapy are rare. Scarring is described; it is typically focal and resembles a chicken-pox scar. The risk is in the order of 1 in 1,000 patients.
Some degree of difference between treated and untreated areas is not uncommon. Patients presenting with rosacea, but who also have background sun-induced redness, may wish to consider treatment to the whole ‘unit’ of the skin, such as the cheek, or even whole-face therapy if this seems to be indicated.
Bruising of the skin quite commonly produces some brown staining of the skin, due to deposition of iron pigments. This usually fades over two months or so. Use of sunscreen and sun avoidance helps to decrease this risk and hastens the absorption of the pigment.
Crusting, scabbing and blistering may occur at high energy levels. Such crusting can be treated with a heavy moisturiser, or even a coating of Vaseline, and settles over one week. Secondary infection is a very rare side-effect of pulsed dye laser therapy.
Actively tanned skin (direct sun or sun bed exposure within the last 2 weeks) will not be treated.
Make sure your skin's barrier is in optimal condition for your treatment by using a good skin care line and avoiding harsh products and/or treatments at least 4 weeks prior to your treatment.
If you have a darker skin tone and your practitioner advises you to, prepare the skin with prescribed topical hydroquinone and/or tretinoin products in order to minimize the risk of hyperpigmentation, 4 weeks prior to treatment.
If possible, please come to your appointment without any jewellery, make-up, perfume or deodorant.
For the next few days, until your skin is back to normal, avoid the following:
Makeup can be applied immediately after treatment if required.
Your practitioner may prescribed a suitable after care product to use after your treatment.
A sun protection factor of 50 should be used on all exposed parts for at least four weeks after the treatment.
You are under no obligation to book the treatment with us after your consultation, however, should you do wish to book a treatment this can be done for you after your consultation or at a later date via phone or e-mail.
At Skinlogic we can assure you that we value your health and wellbeing. You will only be seen and treated by qualified and experienced professionals.
During the Treatment
Before your treatment you will be provided with a detailed consent form. You will be asked to read and sign this prior to your having your treatment.
You will have plenty of opportunity to ask any questions you may still have regarding the treatment.
Your practitioner will cleanse the area to be treated. If necessary, topical anesthetic will be applied. At Skinlogic, we encourage our patients to omit the topical anestetic since it causes vasoconstriction and thus impair an optimal healing cascade. However, your well-being and comfort is very important to us, so the option of topical anesthetic is always available. Depending on the treatment intensity, most patients report feeling just mild discomfort and heat, as though a hot rubber band is flicked against the skin. This part of the procedure is over quite quickly - within 20 minutes.
After the procedure, the skin is calmed with the application of specialized products to provide comfort, enhance your treatment and aid recovery.