You can blame the sun for most of those “age spots” that have crept onto your complexion and stolen the youthful look of your skin. Lasers are the ideal way to quickly remove these blemishes. Laser therapy can specifically target the scattered brown spots that arise from sun damage over the face, chest and hands, including so-called liver spots on the hands, small brown spots or age spots on the face and chest, freckles and freckle-like spots on the face and elsewhere. We will discuss all of your options and help you determine which device is right for you and how many treatments you will require. These treatments produce only mild discomfort, but numbing cream may be used if you desire. The laser device quickly delivers energy that is absorbed by the pigmented lesion, the dark spot will change color and slough off. The healthy new skin underneath may be pink for a few weeks, but this will return to normal. Since these treatments only remove the surface color, the skin underneath is left unharmed. There is no downtime, and patients typically return to normal activities following their treatments.
Pigmented lesions are darker in colour than normal skin because melanin is abnormally concentrated in one area of the skin. Pigmented lesions could be birthmarks, flat moles or various freckles and sun spots. Lasers work by delivering an intense beam of light that is absorbed by the melanin, dark pigment in the skin. This light is converted to heat and is absorbed by the skin cells being targeted destroying them, while leaving the surrounding normal skin unaffected.
The results of laser treatment depend on the depth of the melanin and the colour of the lesion and several treatments may be required. Some lesions do not disappear completely, but will be significantly lighter in colour after treatment. Sunblock should be worn for at least 6 weeks after treatment, and then you should avoid excessive sun exposure. Blistering and crusting of skin sometimes occurs. If this happens, you must not pick or scratch the area to avoid permanent scarring.
Avoid the sun for 4-6 weeks before and after treatment, and during any treatment courses. You may develop hypopigmentation (white spots) after treatment if skin is tanned. The use of selftanning products must be discontinued one week before treatment. If you wear make up on the treatment area, you have to remove it. Treated skin must be clean and dry.
When you arrive you will meet the member of staff treating you. They will explain the treatment for you, and obtain a written consent from you unless this already has been done on previous clinic visits. Photographs may be taken of the area to be treated so that progress can be monitored. Local anaesthetic may be used if necessary. The skin in the area to be treated is cleaned before starting. The laser practitioner will choose the right treatment parameters for you and calibrate the laser machine.
You and the laser practitioner will wear safety eyewear to protect your eyes from the laser light. Your practitioner will guide the laser to the treatment areas with a small handpiece. A treatment can take as little as a few minutes to as long as an hour, depending on the size of the area being treated. Often the strength of the laser pulse is changed depending on the reaction on skin and patient comfort. Most patients do not find the treatment too painful. Local anaesthetic cream can be used if you find it too painful.
Immediately after the treatment, there will be redness and mild swelling on the treatment. The treated lesion will appear darker in color and may look shriveled. This is normal. The area can be cooled using cold compresses. Aloe vera gel is also applied to the lasered area
Some light crusting of the skin may occur. Avoid picking or scratching the treated skin to avoid permanent scarring. The treated area may appear brown, crusty or red for a few days. Once the crusting falls off, the skin underneath will be pink. You can continue applying aloe vera gel or non-scented hypo-allergenic moisturizer to soothe any irritation and to moisturize. Treat the area gently. You may resume use of your usual creams/ lotions/ make-up once the irritation/ redness/ crusting clears. Avoid exercise for 24 hours after treatment. Avoid sun exposure to reduce the chance of dark pigmentation. Always use sunblock (SPF 30 or higher) throughout the course of your treatment. If you do not follow this advice, you may suffer burning, blistering, scarring and permanent pigment changes.