1. What are lasers?
Lasers is not a word, but an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
All lasers consist of a material such as a dye, crystal of gas that creates a specific wavelength, an electrical current to increase the energy of the material, an optical cavity to amplify the light, which all goes together to produce a specific beam of light.
A laser can only put out the energy of a light bulb, but a light bulb is lighting a whole room. A laser can heat a dot to the energy of the sun for a millionth of a second, and it will only affect the tissue that will absorb that energy.
Medical lasers have been around for 40 years. Just like computers they have become smaller and more efficient. There are many different types of lasers, designed to emit different forms of energy to accomplish different tasks.
2.What are the different types of lasers?
- A .Resurfacing laser
- B. Vascular lasers
- C. Pigmentation lasers
- D Tattoo removal lasers
- E .Hair removal laser
- F. Devices that called lasers but aren’t
3.What is a resurfacing laser?
These are lasers that emit a light that well absorbed by the water in skin. There are three main ones in use today.
CO2 – melts or vaporizes the outer layers of skin. It’s deep and aggressive and usually requires general anesthesia involving prolonged pain and downtime, but as new cells forms, there is a rearrangement of the collagen and a new smoother and tighter skin surfaces appears.
Erbium: YAG – Uses mid- infrared light, but with less heat than a CO2 laser, so recovery time is shorter. YAG refers to the losing medium an yttrium – aluminum – garnet crystal containing atoms of erbium (a rare earth metal). They are usually done without anesthesia and tolerated quite well.
Fractional – One of the newest lasers approved y the FDA just recently. It emits a very thin beam of infrared light that creates thousands of microscopic wounds surrounded by healthy tissue, resulting in rapid healing. Usually for less painful that the CO2.
4.What are vascular lasers?
These lasers are for blood vessels, spider veins and port wine stains. They emit light that is well absorbed by the hemoglobin in red blood cells, thereby reducing redness while having surrounding skin relatively undamaged.
There are three main types:
KTP, Nd: YAG, and a Pulsed Dye, each emitting a different color light.
5.What is a Pigmentation Laser?
This is a laser for dark spots, freckles and sun damaged skin. These lasers emit light that is well absorbed by melanin making them effective at reducing brown pigmentation.
6.What are Tattoo Removal Lasers?
There are different types of lasers that remove specific colors. One removes black, blue and green pigment. Another removes orange and red pigments.
7.Explain Hair removal lasers
These lasers work by destroying the hair follicle in the growth phrase. Since not all hair follicles are in the growth phrase at one time, it usually requires a series of 4 treatments. Hair removal lasers work well against dark hair and very poorly against light or grey hair.
8.What do people call lasers but are not really laser?
Intense Pulsed Light instrument users a broad spectrum of wavelengths to lighten or remove brown or red lesions and wrinkles. It is also known as Photodynamic Therapy or Photo rejuvenation.
Light- Emitting Diode (LED) It looks like an old fashioned makeup mirror with bulbs. Sends light through the epidermis to stimulate fibroblast cells, causing them to produce collagen and elastics. Also know as Photo modulation. Thermage – The manufacturer reports that this device’s radiofrequency can tighten skin by heating and shrinking collagen in the lower skin layers. Also known as Therma Lift or Therma Cool.
9.What is an Ablative Laser?
An ablative device (such as a CO2 laser) melts or evades the outer skin much like heat does the surface of a spacecraft during reentry. It’s deep and aggressive and usually involves prolonged pain and downtime. Never less aggressive lasers such as the erbrium: YAG is not as aggressive and not as painful; however the results are not as dramatic.
10. Does laser treatment hurt?
A CO2 laser is extremely painful with prolonged downtime. Our office does not use a CO2 laser for skin resurfacing. An erbrium: YAG laser is used in our office. Individual responses to laser treatment vary, however you might be more comfortable if you observe a few precautions.
- Remain calm. Stress, with its release of adrenaline, acts on pain – sensing neurons call noci reptors and can exacerbate pain.
- Consult your pharmacist – some medications that increase the level of adrenaline in the blood stream, such as those for asthma and glaucoma can lower pain tolerance.
- Skip Dunkin Donuts. Stimulants such as caffeine and sugar may increase pain sensitivity.
- Check the Calendar – Many women find treatment much more painful during their periods.
Most people say that laser treatment feels like severe sunburn. I’m a believer in the No pain No gain theory. I don’t think anything we do works significantly without some degree of pain. It is my opinion that the CO2 laser is just too aggressive with almost a month of down time. I have done this treatment and I would not have it done to me and therefore I refuse to do this treatment in our office. The YAG laser does have significant pain; however it is usually tolerated very well. You can ask for the telephone number of someone who has had the procedure in our office.
11. Does drinking water help keep the skin supple?
It does because it replenishes the water content of the innermost layer of skin, the dermis which contains 70 percent of the skins water content. The dermis acts as a reservoir for the epidermis (outer layer) which constantly loses moisture through the surface, a process called trans- epidermal water loss (TEWL) that occurs in all healthy skin. However when the epidermis’s water content falls below 10%, the surface will appear dry and lose smoothness and suppleness. If you drink the normal 8-10 glasses of water a day (not coffee, diet soda) you should hydrate your skin sufficiently.
12. Tell me about melanoma…
Melanoma is the deadliest and fastest growing cancer on the skin. It is usually an irregularly shaped brown spot on the skin. In the U.S. there are more cases of melanoma each year than there is of AIDS. One American dies of melanoma almost every hour (every 68 minutes). In the U.S. your chance of getting melanoma in 1940 was 1 in 1500. By 2010 scientist predict it will be 1 in 50. Be careful avoid over exposure to the sun, and if you suspect a melanoma have it checked ASAP.
13. What is the “Shadow Rule”?
If your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s damaging rays are at their strongest and you are likely to sunburn. Five or more sunburns double your risk of developing skin cancer. One in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during your lifetime. Most sun damage occurs in the first 18 years of life when skin exposure to harmful ultraviolet light is greatest and when preventive measure are least employed due mostly to inadequate public awareness. An estimated 10,590 people will die of skin cancer this year… a 10% increase from last year.
14. I am an active person and outside
A lot, what can I do to prevent sun damage? Since you are an outdoors person and staying out of the sun is impossible you can protect yourself in many ways. Wear protective clothing and accessories, such as long – sleeve shirts and pants, wide- brimmed hats and sunglasses. Apply sun block at least 20 minutes before you go out and re-apply every 2 hours for maximum effectiveness. The hours between 10am and 4pm are the most hazardous for U.V. exposure. Follow the “Shadow Rule”