What types of brown spots or pigmented lesions will laser remove?
The MedLite Q-Switch and Candela GentleLASE laser is most commonly used for removing brown age spots, freckles and many types of brown birthmarks. Your laser therapist will identify your specific type of lesion and discuss the removal success rate associated with it. Important: The laser cannot be used for the removal of lesions that are cancerous or suspected of being cancerous. If there is any suspicion that the lesion may be cancerous, we will strongly recommend that you consult your General Medical Practitioner without delay.
Is laser safe?
Yes. The Q-Switch laser and GentleLASE laser produces a controlled beam of light specifically intended for the aesthetic treatment of pigmented lesions and approved for that use. The laser light, although bright is not strong enough to penetrate the skin below a depth of 1mm so it cannot damage other organs. The MedLite Q-Switch laser used by City laser Clinic for laser Skin Rejuvenation is one of the safest lasers available today.
Can laser remove my normal skin pigment also?
The laser light was designed for its properties that selectively target dark concentrations of melanin. If after removal of the abnormal concentrations of melanin treatment continued on normal skin; some whitening could occur. However, your body’s natural regenerative processes would replace the normal melanin after a period of time, returning the skin to its natural colour.
Are there any Precautions to take during treatment?
As with all laser treatment, you must avoid exposure to direct sunlight before treatment, during treatment and for some weeks following laser treatment. At City Laser Clinic, our experienced qualified laser therapists will advise you based on your skin type and the nature of the treatments that you are receiving. SPF must be worn daily. The City Laser Clinic laser therapists do sometimes need to refer clients to their General Medical Practitioner for assessment and when in doubt will not treat until a Medical Clearance is provided.
Does it hurt?
The level of discomfort is different for every person depending on sensitivity; other considerations include the location and surface area to be treated. Most clients do not request any pain control during treatment and relate the discomfort as comparable to mild sunburn. Your laser therapist will discuss your options with you based upon your own tolerance and the body area to be treated.
Are there any possible adverse side effects?
A small percentage of persons treated may experience side effects (unwanted outcomes), these side effects are usually temporary and mild, though can be more severe and longer term. They include:
- Scarring though rare and more likely with darker skin types, it can occur with all skin types and especially if the required precautions (relating to sun exposure and some medicines) are not followed, before, during and after treatment;
- Hyper-pigmentation (darker skin) can occur because of inflammation caused by laser treatment and a brown mark arises that usually takes some months to fade with the assistance of lightening agents;
- Hypo-pigmentation (lighter skin): laser treatment can cause a loss of skin pigmentation in the treated area. This pigmentation usually returns but can take up to 18 months and in very rare cases can take so long that is considered permanent;
- Bacterial or viral infection. Any infection in a wound created by a laser has the potential for scarring and laser treatments have been known to trigger herpes simplex outbreaks;
How does it look afterwards?
After the laser treatment, the area will feel hot, similar to a sunburn, sometimes for up to several hours. Discomfort disappears over the next few hours, a scab or crust will develop over the area, and this looks darker than the original lesion. This will last between 12-18 days depending on the size and site (longer on arms and legs). When the scab comes off, the area will be pink for another couple of weeks and then will return to its final colour.
How much area can be covered in one laser treatment?
At least 80% of all common pigmented lesions are removed with one laser treatment. If a lesion covers a large area, your laser therapist may advise you to treat the area in several stages, to avoid unnecessary discomfort.
How long will the healing process take?
Everyone heals at various rates depending on the depth of laser treatment, the particular areas treated and your own health and condition. Noticeable results are typically seen in a few weeks. Some areas may take up to 12 weeks for the full laser treatment benefits to become apparent.
What are the possible unwanted effects of Laser treatment?
Lasers have been around for decades and are proven safe and approved for use, occasionally we see some mild unwanted effects including redness, swelling, and light bruising of the treated area. These side effects typically endure for only a few days, less frequently there may be a more noticeable change in skin pigmentation after laser treatment.
Increased pigmentation (Hyper-pigmentation)
This is more likely to occur in those individuals with darker skin. It may also occur if you expose your skin to the sun and solariums within three months after laser treatment. Whenever you go outdoors in the first three months after laser therapy, you must always wear effective sunscreen protection on the treated area for example an SPF 30+ sunscreen plus a good physical barrier such as a foundation or zinc cream. If hyper-pigmentation does develop, your family doctor can prescribe a de-pigmenting cream.
Decreased pigmentation (Hypo-pigmentation)
A small number of patients develop a lighter skin colour in the treated area. Skin colour usually returns to normal within 18 months.
Can the excess pigmentation come back?
Common pigmented lesions do not return. Some lesions may return after a period of several months to a year. However, the procedure can be repeated with similar results. The conditions that we treat vary in extent and severity from client to client. Consequently, each client response to any laser treatment does vary, and we are unable to guarantee individual results. Unprotected sun exposure on the area will most definitely stimulate the Melanocytes and the treated lesion/s will return. New pigmentations can also arise, and be successfully treated.
What type of post-treatment care is necessary?
A shower can be taken the next day, but avoid scrubbing the treated area. Since most common pigmented lesions are caused by exposure to ultraviolet sunrays, it is imperative that you always wear sunscreen. Failure to wear a protective sunscreen will allow further sun damage to occur and result in new pigmented lesions.
Some Final Advice – Please Protect your skin!
For best protection, Cancer Council Australia recommends a combination of sun protection measures:
Slip on some sun-protective clothing – that covers as much skin as possible;
Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun;
Slap on a hat – that protects your face, head, neck and ears;
Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards.
Extra care should be taken between 10am and 3pm when UV levels reach their peak. See www.cancer.org.au/cancersmartlifestyle/SunSmart/Preventingskincancer.html