The Star – Laser those black spots away (Sep 2013)

Oct 10, 13 The Star – Laser those black spots away (Sep 2013)


Laser those black spots away

In a typical Asian country, being fair and spotless is one of the key attributes of beauty. Skin lighteners have been widely used by ladies since the olden days to treat unsightly dark spots on the face and to make one look fairer. Today, there are many ways beyond usage of creams and lotions to make one fairer and spotless; spots pertaining to ‘pigment spots’. These methods include microdermabrasion, chemical peeling as well as light and laser therapy. The latter has become increasingly popular as the ideal method for skin lightening and treatment of pigment spots.

What are the light and lasers used for skin lightening and pigmentation?

There is a wide array of light and laser equipment in the market. All light and laser machines are unique in their properties and are different in its efficacy for any one condition. For pigmentation, intense pulse light and pigmentary lasers are often used. Pigmentary lasers include Q-switched Nd:Yag, Q-switched alexandrite and Q-switched ruby, to name a few. They have specific wavelengths that can preferentially target melanin –the pigment responsible for skin colour and most pigmentary disorders. For certain pigmentary problems such as moles and seborrheic keratosis, it may be better to ablate them using other types of lasers such as the CO2 laser.

How does pigment laser work for skin lightening and pigmentary disorders?

Pigment laser preferentially heats up melanin in our skin. The heated melanin will cause damage and destruction to the cells that carry the pigment. Following this, our immune system will then clear the destructed cell as well as the pigment from our body, which will be reflected as skin lightening or clearing of the pigmentary disorder. This also applies to tattoo removal through pigment lasers. Apart from heating up the pigment, it is also believed that pigment lasers can also alter the optical property of the pigment, causing obvious lightening of the skin and spots.

Is light and laser effective for all types of pigmentary disorders?

Unfortunately, no single light or laser is effective for all types of pigmentary disorders. Pigmentary disorders that are very responsive to light and laser therapies include freckles, senile lentigo and seborrheic keratosis. Hence, it is best to consult your dermatologist to get the right diagnosis before deciding on the type of treatment that is best suited to you.

How many sessions of light and laser therapy do I need to lighten my skin or to clear my spots?

For skin lightening purposes, it is recommended to have about 4-6 sessions of pigment laser at the start of the therapy before maintaining skin colour with other skin lightening agents. Freckles, solar lentigo and mole removal typically only require a few sessions for removal i.e. 1-3 sessions. For other skin problems, the number of session may be more and may differ according to the individual.

I heard about Q-switched Nd:Yag lasers. Apart from lightening my complexion, are there any other added benefits?

Some Q-switched Nd:Yag machines also offer other settings that are often used in skin lightening laser sessions. For example, Fotona Q-switched Nd:Yag offers a specific setting that offers skin lifting, which will help you achieve a more chiseled ‘v-look’. This setting also rejuvenates your skin and tightens your pores. As a matter of fact, during a session of Fotona Q-switched Nd:Yag, I often treat half a face first before proceeding to the other half. This way, patients can see that the treated side of the face looks more lifted, the shape of the face is more contoured, and there is improved and fairer complexion immediately. In fact, the results will get better in 1-2 weeks’ time after treatment.

Is there any downtime after pigment laser treatment?

Most patients experience transient redness after undergoing laser therapy. Most are able to return to work almost immediately and office workers often do this as a lunchtime procedure. For certain conditions such as freckles and seborrheic keratosis, this may take more time to recover. Treated spots may be red and swollen for about 1 week before the scabs fall off. Consult your dermatologist for further clarification on the expected downtime for your condition.

Are there side effects from the laser therapy?

There are possible side effects from light and laser therapy. Hence, it is very important to choose your doctor wisely. Under an experienced hand, the risk of complications can be reduced. Possible side effects include pigmentary changes, infection, textural changes and scarring.

In short, light and laser therapy can be very useful for skin lightening and to treat certain types of pigmentary disorders. Correct diagnosis and operation of the light and laser machine is important to ensure that the treatment is effective and safe.

Laser those black spots away

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