Laser Treatment Facts - Viewpoints from Expert Doctors
Last updated date: 23-Sep-2022
10 mins read
Our skin is fascinating. Did you know that the skin is the largest organ in the human body?
It is true, the skin is the largest organ in the body with a total area of about 20 square feet.
The skin has very important functions:
- It regulates body temperature through sweat.
- It provides a protective shield or barrier against microbes, physical and thermal injuries, and hazardous substances.
- It acts as a sensory organ, for touch and detection of temperature.
- It is considered an immune organ that detects infections.
- It reduces the harmful effects of UV sun rays.
- It produces vitamin D.
- It prevents loss of moisture.
Our skin consists of three main layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous layer.
The epidermis is the outer elastic layer that is continually being regenerated. It includes:
- Keratinocytes. The main cells of the epidermis and are formed by cell division at the base of the epidermis. New cells continually move towards the surface. As they move up, they become flattened, and they die gradually.
- Corneocytes. The flattened dead keratinocytes, which form the outermost layer of the epidermis “ stratum corneum”. This layer is continually shed.
- Melanocytes. And you can guess from its name that these are the cells responsible for the production of the melanin pigment, which protects the skin from harmful sun rays and gives the skin its color.
As for the dermis, it is the inner layer that includes the following:
- Sweat glands. They produce sweat and they have a role in regulating the temperature of the body.
- Hair follicles. They are the pits in which hair grows.
- Sebaceous glands. These are responsible for producing sebum, and oil, that keeps hair free from dust and bacteria.
The last layer, the subcutaneous tissue, is made up of connective tissue and fat.
You must have realized now how great our skin is.
However, sometimes, some conditions might give us a permanent scar on the surface of the skin, conditions like burns or acne.
Or you may have a permanent tattoo and you want to get rid of it. Have you thought before about how we can remove such things?
Many people had tattoos when they were young but not all of them are happy about it. Or some people had acne in their teenage years but now it left some unpleasant scars.
Science always has an answer to our problems. Today there is what’s called the “Laser treatment” and this is the main subject of our video today.
So, what is laser treatment?
Laser therapies or treatments are medical treatments that use focused light. The word laser itself stands for “ Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”. So, unlike other light sources, light from the laser is adjusted to a specific wavelength that allows it to focus strong light beams on a specific area of the skin. To understand its intensity, laser beams are so intense and strong that they are used to cut diamonds or steel.
In medicine, the laser allows surgeons and doctors a high level of accuracy and precision because it can be focused on a small area and avoid damaging the surrounding healthy tissues.
So, in medicine, what is a laser treatment used for?
There are a variety of conditions that laser can be used for, such as:
- Relieve symptoms of cancer.
- Remove part of the prostate.
- Shrink or destroy tumors, polyps, or precancerous growths.
- Remove kidney stones.
- Repair detached retina.
- Improve vision.
- Treat hair loss resulting from alpaca or ageing.
- Treat pain including back nerve pain.
The laser can also have a sealing effect that may be used to seal:
- Nerve endings to reduce the pain after surgeries.
- Blood vessels to prevent blood loss.
- Lymph vessels to reduce swelling and prevent cancer cells spread.
Lasers can also be very significant in treating the early stages of some types of cancer, such as:
- Cervical cancer.
- Vaginal cancer.
- Penile cancer.
- Vulvar cancer.
- Basal cell skin cancer.
However, in cases of cancer treatment with lasers, it goes alongside other types of treatments such as surgeries, chemotherapy or radiation.
And of course, you must have heard about laser uses in the cosmetic field, such as:
- Warts, moles, birthmarks, sunspots removal.
- Hair removal.
- Reducing the appearance of scars, blemishes and wrinkles.
- Tattoos removal as we explained before.
Speaking of tattoo removal, let’s talk about it in detail.
Laser tattoo removal techniques can significantly diminish the tattoo with minimum side effects or no side effects at all.
So, how does it work? How can the laser remove tattoos?
Lasers remove the tattoos by breaking up the pigment colors by focusing an intense light beam on the tattoo.
Every color absorbs certain wavelengths, for example, the black pigment absorbs all laser wavelengths making it the easiest color to treat.
Other tattoos pigment can be treated by certain laser beams selected according to the pigment color.
Your doctor will evaluate your tattoo and advise you on the whole process of removing your tattoo.
Besides, your skin color and how deep the tattoo pigment goes will affect the technique used to remove your tattoo.
What happens during a laser tattoo removal session?
First of all, you will be given a pair of protective eye shields. Then your physician will test the sensitivity of your skin to laser beams to determine the power and the intensity that are suitable for your skin type.
Then, your physician will use the laser to emit pulses of intense light through the top layer of your skin. These intense pulses will be absorbed only by the tattoo pigments.
Smaller tattoos will require fewer pulses and larger ones will require more pulses to be removed. After each session, the tattoo should become lighter than before until it completely fades away.
According to the location of your tattoo, you might want to apply a topical anesthetic before your laser session because it can be slightly uncomfortable.
And immediately after your session, you should use ice packs to soothe the area and apply antibiotic creams and ointments.
It is also important to remember to cover the area with sunscreen when you go outside.
And just like any procedure, there must be some side effects.
So, what are the side effects of laser tattoo removal?
First of all, we need to clarify that laser tattoo removal is often safer than other tattoo removal methods such as excision and dermabrasion.
Laser treatment selectively affects the pigment of the tattoo.
Although there are a few side effects, you should consider them, such as:
- The site of tattoo removal is liable for infection and there could be a permanent scar.
- It is not always that your whole tattoo will be removed. Some colors may be more effectively removed than others. For example, blue and black tattoos are removed very effectively.
- In some cases, you might end up with hypopigmentation, which means that the treated area will be paler than the surrounding skin.
- Cosmetic tattoos such as lip liner, eyeliner and eyebrows may get darker after treatment.
To ensure that you will get the right treatment, find the right dermatologist, a reputable one. That's how you can avoid side effects and get the best results.
Now, let's move to laser uses in removing acne scars.
In this case, laser beams aim to minimize the appearance of scars from old acne outbreaks.
When we talk about acne scars, we talk about around 95% of people because 95% who once had acne, have residual scarring.
So, how does it work on acne?
Laser treatment for acne scars focuses light beams on the top layer of the skin, so it can break the scar tissue. It also stimulates new healthy cells to grow and replace scar tissue cells.
But generally, it works in two ways.
First, heat from the light beams removes the top layer of the skin where the scar is.
As the top layer peels off, your skin appears smoother.
Besides, blood glow is derived to the area by the heat of the laser and inflammation is reduced.
All these factors combine to make the scars less apparent, painful, and red.
Laser treatment may not completely remove the scar, but it will surely minimize the pain caused by them and make them fade away.
However, this treatment only works on people who used to have acne. If you have active acne, wrinkled skin, or a darker skin tone, you might not be a good candidate for this kind of treatment.
But is it expensive? I mean it is not covered in insurance, so we need to know how much it costs.
The cost of your laser treatment is completely individual because it depends on several individual factors, including:
- The number of scars you want to treat.
- The size of the area being treated.
- The number of treatment sessions you will need.
- And of course, the experience level of your dermatologist.
Our role today is to answer most of your questions regarding leaser treatment. Today we have Doctor Park who is an accomplished cosmetics surgeon and professor in Seoul, Korea. He is going to talk to us about leaser treatment from an experienced point of view.
What does laser treatment do, other than removing tattoos and scars?
Normally when we speak of lasers, they are light basically. We increase the force and use it to target a specific tissue area. Pigmentation, tattoo, and scar are the typical targets. Lasers are energy-based devices. Nowadays, we tend to use the term “energy-based device” when talking about lasers. High frequency ultrasonic waves are also energy based. Also, thermage based treatments. Also, RF treatments are covered under the umbrella of energy-based devices.
Are there many changes between the previous and current laser treatments?
Like I said, long ago we treated with lasers for certain color removals, vein treatments, etc. When we use laser treatments, the energy has to come from outside into the skin. But we need lasers to work deeper in the tissue. No matter how much you use a laser from the outside, not much penetrates deep into this area. So, we decided to use energy deep in the area we need to use. Thus, new methods were developed. So, thermage, ultrasound are used to treat from the required depth. This is how the trend is changing.
How does Accusculpt laser work to give a lifting effect on the face?
Accusculpt is a unique laser. While all other lasers deliver force from the outside of the skin, with Accusculpt, we insert the laser inside the body. The action happens from the inside of the patient’s body. Accusculpt used water and body fat to achieve effect. Fats are attached to tissue. When we use Accusculpt, the fats are burned and broken down, resulting in a tightening effect. So, it is a different type of laser technique.
How does the lifting effect last after laser treatments?
Uh, the main aim of laser treatments is thermal regeneration. As we age, the collagen in the dermis gets broken down and absorbed. Because it breaks down and gets absorbed, the quantity of collagen left is small. So, there is some empty space left. As the empty spaces grow, color and elasticity suffers. The aim is to figure out a way to regenerate this area. How much collagen will be regenerated and how to regenerate the basal dermis are the key issues. Also, how to regenerate the epidermis. These are the goals nowadays.
How does laser work to have our skin tightening?
So, these aspects are called thermal collagen regeneration. As the regeneration happens, the skin gets better. When we look here, this lady’s skin has gotten better, tighter, two to four years later. The pores got smaller, as well. The redness of the skin is decreased. We use lasers in order to achieve these types of results. The goal of lasers is to fund ways to regenerate collagen and tissue.
Is it true that laser treatments will make our skin dehydrated and why?
Yes. When we employ laser treatments, the skin barriers break down, water evaporates in the process and the areas that keep humidity are reduced. Because the result is tightness, many can feel dryness. So, it is important to replenish after surgery.
Normally when we talk about lasers we are talking about concentrated energy carried through light and used to target a specific area of tissue. Pigmentation, tattooing, and scarring are typical targets. Nowadays, we tend to use the term "energy-based device" when we talk about lasers, high frequency ultrasonic waves as well as thermage and RF treatments.
These new treatments are more effective because either, they allow us to use an appropriate depth to treat the area to be treated as for thermage, or to insert the laser squarely inside the skin as in the case of Accuscuplt which will thus deliver energy from inside the body.
For these thermal regeneration techniques, the firming of the skin is based on the regeneration of the amount of collagen, of the basal dermis as well as of the epidermis.