Laser in simple term is a single wavelength (monochromatic – one colour of light) source of high energy light. This can be accurately focused & transmitted on a very small area of body tissue.
“Laser is to Light is just like Music is to Sound”
Lasers work in Aesthetic applications through a process called “selective photo-thermo-lysis”. The meaning of this fancy word is that when this laser light is absorbed by the target tissue, it generates heat in this specific area, that we desire to change, treat or destroy. For this process to be effective, we need specific wavelength / colour of light, which is ideal for the target chromophore / cell / organ / tissue / skin.
Different tissue target needs different wavelength Lasers. Different tissue types & depth also needs different way to deliver this energy. This is the reason that we have to have many wavelength & variety of Lasers.
Use of Aesthetic Lasers in clinical practice have evolved over last 3 decades & it now allows us to effectively treat & eradicate many conditions, earlier thought to be difficult or impossible, with minimal or no morbidity / side effects.
Q. 1) Am I a Candidate for Laser procedure ?
Ans: There are various skin conditions best treated by lasers like
a. Birthmarks – brown / black or red / purple
b. Unwanted Tattoos
c. Undesired hair / Hirsutism
d. Scars – Acne, surgical or traumatic
e. Thickened / Hypertrophic Scars or Keloids
f. Skin lesions / unsightly spots
g. Age related Skin laxity, fine lines or Pigmentation (Melasma)
h. Varicose Veins / thread veins
If you or any of your known person has any of the above, Laser procedure would be most appropriate to treat them.
Q.2) How is the Laser Procedure performed ?
Ans: Once the Plastic Surgeon has assessed your Skin condition, a detailed plan of the Laser procedure would be charted out. For the birthmark, Tattoo removal, Hair reduction & Scar treatment, multiple sessions are planned to be done at 4 to 6 weeks interval. Most of these procedures are either done without any anaesthesia or under surface / local anaesthesia. The procedure per se doesn’t take more than 15 to 30 minutes, so the patients needs to visit the clinic only for a short duration & return back to his / her routine activities.
Laser treatment for Birthmark in small children may need to be done under sedation given by the anaesthetists and a day’s stay at the clinic. Laser ablation for Varicose Veins & Skin resurfacing with Ablative Laser will need Anaesthesia and hospitalisation for a day or two.
During the procedure, patients are made to seat or lie down comfortably, protective eye shields are worn by them and after the procedure cooling ice is provided to sooth. Post procedure treatment specific instructions are to be followed for quick recovery.
Q.3) What kind of Results can I Expect ?
Ans: The Laser surgery of Skin condition having cosmetic implications has revealed the profound psychological benefit which are unmatched by any other modality of treatment either with or without knife.
Birthmarks like Nevus of Otta, Café au lait spots, Nevus, Port wine stain, Haemangioma, Amateur or artistic Tattoo can be nearly cleared
Undesired Hair can be dramatically reduced to alleviate the agony. Scars can be reduced to minimal visibility and Varicose Veins can be cured with quick recovery & no down time. Even the age related features of the face can be tackled with laser to make the person look younger.
Q.4) What are the Energy based devices and it’s use in Aesthetic surgery ?
Ans: Laser procedures though are most successful for Skin rejuvenation and management of Scars (including acne scars) has some limitations when used to treat darker skin types seen in Indian population.
The Energy devises like RF (Radio frequency) delivered with or without micro-needle, in unipolar or bipolar mode or Ultrasound energy as in HIFU (high intensed focused ultrasound) can give dramatic results to either improve the Scar, knock off signs of aging from the face, get rid of stubborn fat or tighten the loose skin from face or body.
These devices are colour Blind, so the results are identical and reproducible for light as well as dark coloured skin.
Q.5) What are the common post procedure Do’s & Don’ts ?
Ans: Apply a wrapped cool compress or wrapped ice pack to the treated areas for 15 to 30 minutes or longer till burning sensation is felt.
If blistering, crusting, or scabbing develops, call our office immediately. You may apply a thin layer antibiotic ointment with or without steroid as advised to the area twice a day until the skin heals. Do not pick or attempt to remove scabs that form following your treatment, as this may incur infection or scarring.
Gently wash the area twice daily with mild soap, do not rub the skin vigorously and avoid hot water, as the skin may be delicate for several days. Avoid activities that can cause flushing for 24 hours after treatment or until any swelling resolves. Avoid any topical cosmetic products that may cause irritation for 5 to 7 days following treatment.
Post procedure products that are soothing and hydrating are used for 2 weeks posttreatment. Direct sun exposure is avoided for 4 weeks after treatment to help minimize the risk of undesired pigmentary changes. A broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 50o 60 containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide is advised to be used. Depigmenting creams may be given as a precautionary measures in some of the Laser treatment.
Q.6) What can go wrong and how it can be remedied ?
Ans: Mild redness or slight swelling if at all occurs, usually resolves in few hours or a day or two. Superficial Burns or a blister are rarely seen & resolves without any permanent scarring or pigmentary changes. These are avoided by careful planning and adhering to protocol.
As is said “With Great Power Comes Greater Responsibilities”. Laser in the aesthetic surgery has to be to used with caution and must be done either by or under the supervision of a qualified Plastic surgeon.