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A Guide to Laser Treatments

With the number of laser treatments available today, choosing the most beneficial option for your unique skin type and aesthetic concerns can be a daunting task. In fact, simply trying to determine if laser therapy is right for you can often be overwhelming. To help make your research process a bit easier, Dr. Glen Crawford and our team have created this guide to lasers that explains which techniques are best for particular skin issues, as well as what can generally be expected during and after treatment. All of the frequently asked questions listed below have been answered by Anna Schwartz – our aesthetic dermatology coordinate and experienced aestheticians – and we hope you find the information to be of assistance in your endeavor to learn more about laser treatments.

A New Laser at PCD!

The Pennsylvania Centre for Dermatology (PCD) is excited to announce yet another cutting-edge technology available to our patients.  We now have the Vbeam Perfecta Pulsed Dye Laser added to our broad range of laser and light-based devices.  Dr. Crawford has special expertise in using this type of laser, having performed more than 5,000 treatments with this device over the past decade, and serving as an instructor to dermatology residents in training at the University of Pennsylvania.  Clinical evidences of safety and efficacy for pulse dye lasers are well documented in the scientific literature and based on accumulated data from more than 2,000 patients

In our office, the most common clinical application for the Vbeam is for the treatment of facial rosacea and visible blood vessels.  Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder that occurs in about 13 million Americans.  Early rosacea manifests as diffuse facial redness and flushing.  In later stages, larger vessels may appear on the nose, cheeks, between the brows, and on the chin.  Acne-like lesions may also emerge in the same distribution.  The Pulsed-dye laser is the gold standard for treatment of redness, blood vessels, and transient flushing.  The newer generation of pulsed dye lasers, like the Vbeam, allow treatment with little to no downtime and no bruising.  In clinical studies, there was a greater than 80% improvement in rosacea severity scores after a series of three to four sessions. 

Other potential indications for the Vbeam laser include acne scarring, surgical scars, improvement in skin texture and wrinkles, photorejuvenation, pigmented lesions, post-procedure bruising, acne vulgaris, and poikiloderma. 

How do I know if laser treatment is right for me?

In general, laser treatment can be an excellent cosmetic option for virtually anyone interested in improving their skin. There are numerous laser techniques designed to address a wide variety of aesthetic concerns, often through the stimulation of new collagen growth within the skin. Lasers can be great for targeting lines and wrinkles, skin crepiness, large pores, discolorations, texture irregularities, acne scarring, stretch marks, and even some degree of skin sagging. To put it concisely, there is basically a laser treatment for everyone – the best thing to do is to come into our practice for a consultation to find out which technique would be most beneficial for your unique needs and goals.

 Will my skin type affect the results of my laser treatment?

Yes, certain skin types will react differently to specific lasers, ultimately playing a role in how long it may take to achieve optimal results. Depending on what issues are being addressed, some skin types require more treatments while others respond much quicker with fewer sessions. In the end, a laser plan can be customized to match your specific skin type.

Which laser treatments are best for lines, wrinkles, and crepiness?

Laser resurfacing is going to be the most effective treatment for stimulating and remodeling collagen, which helps to improve lines, wrinkles, and the texture of the skin. At our practice, we often use the Cynosure laser  to help minimize facial lines and wrinkles. These treatments work to trigger new collagen growth by encouraging the skin’s natural healing response, which ultimately improves the appearance of wrinkles, texture irregularities, and crepiness.

Can acne be treated with lasers?

Active acne cannot be treated with lasers; however, the appearance of acne scars can often be effectively diminished with laser therapy. If someone has active acne, the first step we want to take is to employ skin care treatments like peels and various at-home product regimens in order to get the acne under control. Once active acne is controlled, Palomar laser resurfacing can usually be used to reduce any ice-pick marks, red blemishes, and/or other scarring left behind from acne.

Which laser procedures are ideal for redness, Rosacea, and/or other irregular skin complexions?

The best laser treatment for irregular skin complexions is generally Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy. This technique can help to minimize redness, broken capillaries, Rosacea, sun spots, hyperpigmentation – pretty much anything that is red or brown. As a light-based system, IPL delivers controlled light energy into the skin, causing uneven pigmentation to gradually disappear through the body’s natural healing process. The end result is a more balanced skin complexion and revitalized overall appearance.

Which laser techniques can help minimize age spots, sun spots, and/or other uneven pigmentation?

Similar to redness and other complexion irregularities, the most effective solution for uneven pigmentation is Intense Pulsed Light therapy. With the IPL system, there are different parameters and handpieces that can be employed based on the depth needed to treat red and brown spots, it’s just a matter of adjusting treatment specifications to target the particular pigmentation the patient wishes to address.


Can the appearance of acne scars and other types of scarring be diminished with laser treatment?

The appearance of scarring can definitely be improved with laser treatments. In many cases, a combination of laser resurfacing , micro-needling and IPL therapy will be the best options because scarring often has discoloration and uneven texture associated with it. The severity of the concern will determine how many treatments may be necessary, as well as how deep the laser will need to penetrate. Overall, this combination laser therapy is usually an excellent approach for acne scars or any other kind of trauma to the skin.

Should I consider laser treatment as a preventative approach to skin aging as opposed to simply a corrective technique?

Absolutely. For someone who is serious about anti-aging and really wants to be proactive about skin care, lasers can definitely be used preventatively. In these instances, something as aggressive as ablative skin resurfacing will probably not be needed, so we would utilize non-ablative lasers, which is a lighter laser treatment. At our practice, we have various techniques for to accomplish this, including a Cynosure laser. This non-ablative laser therapy help stimulate collagen growth and tend to be really good for preventative purposes. In addition, a lot of people will use Retin-A skin care cream in conjunction with laser treatment, which further helps to slow the aging process.

Do laser treatments hurt?

Depending on the type of laser used and specific condition being addressed, some laser treatments have the potential to be slightly uncomfortable. That said, our practice can employ a numbing cream if needed, often making the procedure much easier and more tolerable. In fact, the vast majority of our patients report experiencing little to no discomfort at all during laser therapy.

How long do results last?

For anything related to skin care – lasers included – the effects are cumulative. No laser can achieve ideal results after a single session. Typically, patients will require a series of anywhere from three to six treatments spaced about one month apart to achieve optimal results. Additionally, once the initial series is completed, we often recommend one treatment per year for maintenance purposes, though everyone ages differently and may need “touch-up” sessions more or less frequently.

Are there any anti-aging techniques that work similarly to lasers but aren’t actually laser treatments?

Micro-needling is really gaining a lot of momentum in the anti-aging sector of aesthetic skin care. Similar to laser resurfacing, it creates micro-injuries to encourage new collagen growth in the skin. Using a combination of micro-needling and radiofrequency energy, this advanced procedure effectively stimulates the body’s healing and repair systems to improve wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, acne scars, stretch marks, and various other concerns.

Contact Our Office

If you have additional questions about laser treatments, or if you would like to schedule a consultation at our practice to discover which procedure(s) may be right for you, please feel free to contact us today.

Pennsylvania Centre For Dermatology offers 0% – 6 month financing with Care Credit! Take advantage of the financing options and apply today!