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What is a laser?
Laser is an acronym (abbreviation) from Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. It is just an intense beam of bright light that can be used effectively in medicine, especially for skin conditions and for cosmetic purposes.
What are the most common lasers and what are their uses in dermatology?
- Carbon dioxide laser (brand name Fraxel) – used for removal of wrinkles.
- Diode laser – used for hair removal.
- Erbium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet laser (Er:YAG) – used for removal of wrinkles.
- Excimer laser- for psoriasis and vitiligo.
- Intense pulsed light (IPL) – not a true laser, but very useful to treat skin redness, signs of aging and for temporary decrease of hair growth.
- Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL) – used for vascular lesions such as hemangiomas, port wine stains, veins, broken capillaries and redness on face.
- Q-switched lasers (alexandrite, ruby, Nd:YAG) – used for tattoos and other skin discoloration removal.
Where should I go to have a laser treatment?
Any health care provider can do it, but make sure that the procedure is under a physician’s supervision. Laser treatment should be done by someone who is skilled in the use of that particular laser (ask for their credentials). Also, make sure that the provider who performs the laser procedure can deal with any possible complication should the need occur.
What are the possible complications?
That depends on the type of the laser, but in general you may get burns, scars, infections and eye injury, if proper eyewear was not used.