Laser Treatment for Skin Pigmentation

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Laser treatments can be used to reduce the appearance of skin pigmentation defects such as acne scars, sun spots and other dyspigmentation. The darker the pigmentation, the more times you will have to undergo laser treatment in order to reduce its appearance. Laser treatment is one of the most effective ways to treat skin pigmentation.

Ablative and non-ablative laser treatment

Ablative laser treatments destroy the top layer of skin allowing the deeper layers to be exposed. The laser then heats the deeper layers of skin to stimulate growth of new collagen. New skin will form after the treatment to replace the skin that was destroyed.

Non-ablative laser treatment doesn’t destroy skin. It heats up the skin which encourages new skin growth.

What happen during laser treatment?

Before the treatment your face, or the area being treated, will be cleaned. Usually you will be given a local anaesthetic which will reduce any pain but allows you to stay awake. Alternatively, you may be given a general anaesthetic which means you will be unconscious for the laser treatment. The doctor will then pass the laser over the pigmented area and they will be able to control how deep the laser penetrates. The treatment can last as long as an hour for a large pigmented area. The length of time the treatment will take will also depend upon the type of laser being used.

What happens after laser treatment?

If you have had a local anaesthetic then it may take a while for the numbing effect to wear off after treatment. If you have had a general anaesthetic then you will have to rest after treatment until the anaesthetic has worn off. The area of skin which has undergone treatment may be swollen and painful afterwards and you may have to take paracetamol or some other form of pain relief. Usually after treatment the skin will be covered with an antibiotic cream and you may have to wear a dressing over it.

It will take around 10 days for your skin to heal from laser treatment and up to 6 months for the redness to disappear. You should apply a sunscreen if you are exposed to the sun and you should also moisturise your skin every day.

What are the side effects of laser treatment?

Laser treatment is now a fairly common treatment and is usually safe. Side effects include swelling and pain for a couple of weeks after the treatment and redness for up to 6 months after. More serious side effects which are possible include infection, skin pigment changes and scarring which is rare.

How much does laser treatment cost?

The cost of laser treatment varies depending on the size of the pigmented area to be treated, the depth of the treatment to be used and the clinic which you go to. Prices range from around £500 up to £5,000. Getting laser treatment abroad is often a cheaper option but you should factor in travel and accommodation costs. Treatment abroad can also come with a higher risk of side effects depending on where you go.

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