What is Pulsed dye laser?
In the past few years, the pulsed dye laser has become a frequent treatment choice for a wide range of dermatological conditions. Today, we know that the word laser is actually an abbreviation and that it stands for ‘Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation’. The fact that the light is of high intensity is one of the major advantages brought to the table, contributing to a faster treatment of various skin lesions.
The pulsed dye laser is a special type of laser, in which the lasing medium is actually composed of a solvent in which an organic dye was mixed in. The solvents that are used can be varied, including any of the following substances: dextrin, hexane, ethanol, methanol, glycol and even water. The high energy of the light source is responsible for pumping the liquid, thus allowing the organic dye and solvent mixture to circulate at the highest speed that is possible. What happens is that the light has a direct effect on the dye, stimulating in the end the emission of radiation. The light pulses are visible to the naked eye (protective goggles are worn for such purposes) and the pulse duration is somewhere between 0.45 and 40 milliseconds.
How does the pulsed dye laser work?
The pulsed dye laser is widely recommended for dermatological treatments, as it functions on the principle of head-based chemical decomposition. The laser light works on a selected wavelength and only a certain area of the skin will absorb it (this is also known as the target structure). The surrounding tissues will not be affected at all. It is important to understand that it take less for the laser energy to pulsate than it takes the skin to cool off.
As it was already mentioned, the impact of the thermal energy is only designed to affect the target structure and no other tissue whatsoever. The treatment of various dermatological lesions is based on the principle of the light reaching the skin and the energy coming from that light being absorbed. Sure, parts of this energy will be reflected and transmitted but the absorbed energy is the one that matters the most. The heat of the thermal energy will reach the target and eliminate any lesions present on the skin.
What can be treated with pulsed dye laser?
Pulsed dye laser treatments can be recommended in case of the following dermatological lesions:
- Different types of psoriasis – the pulsed dye laser is especially effective in the case of nail psoriasis and the one in which the skin presents extensive plaques.
- Thermal burns
- Scarred tissue – the pulsed dye laser is recommended in cases of hypertrophic scars.
- Acquired pigment disorder, such as melasma can be treated with pulsed dye laser.
- Viral skin infections (plane warts).
- Non-vascular tumors (angiofibroma)
- Skin growths (pyogenic granulomas)
- Poikiloderma of Civatte (chronic sun exposure)
- Angiomas (cherry angiomas)
- Dilated, broken capillaries (telangiectasia)
- Haemangiomas (benign condition in which abnormal vessels filled with blood are present on the skin)
- Vascular malformations (port wine stains)
- Rosacea (chronic condition – facial erythema and papules)
- Spider naevi (swollen blood vessels that radiate like the web of a spider)
- Age spots and freckles
- Stretch marks
Cost of Pulsed Dye Laser
The cost of pulsed dye laser treatment depends on the medical condition that is being treated, how large is the affected area and who is performing the actual treatment (some doctors are more expensive than others, small town prices differ from big town prices). For example, the treatment of a cherry angioma can cost as much as $300. In general, the treatment using pulsed dye laser varies somewhere between $100 and $500.
These are the potential side-effects of pulsed dye laser treatments:
- Secondary bacterial infections – these can appear if the treated area is not kept clean and they will require antibiotic treatment.
- Blister and burns – these appear when too much light energy has been absorbed by the pigment in the skin.
- Skin pigmentation changes – the skin pigmentation can either be increased or decreased.
The doctor will review your medical history and the clinical symptoms you present in order to determine whether you need pulsed dye laser treatment or not. However, if you do follow this treatment, then it is guaranteed that you will be pleased with the final results. The treatment is safe and it does not hurt but you have to understand that, while certain skin lesions are solved from the first treatment, others have the tendency to recur. The results will become obvious after six to eight weeks after the treatment but that period also depends on the affection that is being treated with the pulsed eye laser.