Vascular laser treatment for red skin might seem like an unusual idea. After all, redness is a common temporary side effect of cosmetic treatments such as laser resurfacing and hair removal. But there are actually a number of laser technologies that work quite well to reduce facial redness and restore even skin tone. Nd:YAG and pulsed dye lasers such as the popular V-beam are the devices most commonly used to treat vascular problems in the skin. Newer generations of laser are more comfortable and effective than older devices such as the argon laser. They also cause fewer side effects. Today, laser treatment for red skin is considered a very safe procedure.
Who Is a Candidate for Vascular Laser Treatment?
Laser procedures are useful for patients who have red blotches on their face or body. These areas of discoloration commonly arise from sun damage, hormonal changes, aging or skin conditions such as rosacea. The following types of red marks generally respond well to laser therapy:
- Persistent or intermittent diffuse facial redness
- Broken blood vessels (spider veins or telangiectasia) on the face or body
- Sun damage on the face and neck that causes dilated blood vessels
- Red birthmarks from abnormal vasculature under the skin
- Other skin lesions that have lots of blood vessels
Patients should have realistic expectations for the outcome of treatment. Redness is typically reduced but not necessarily completely eliminated.
How Does Laser Treatment for Red Skin Work?
The particular wavelengths of light emitted by vascular lasers are selectively absorbed by hemoglobin (the material that makes blood cells red). This means the laser energy passes through the skin layer and targets the blood vessels just below the surface. These dilated or broken capillaries are damaged from within as the hemoglobin heats up dramatically. As a result, the walls of the blood vessels collapse. Blood can no longer flow through or pool in these capillaries, so the overlying skin appears less red. The damaged blood vessels scar over or get broken down by the body over time.
What Is Vascular Laser Treatment for Red Skin Like?
This treatment works much like other laser therapies. The patient and doctor both don protective eyewear. The skin is prepped with soothing gel. The laser is moved over the skin and triggered so that the area of redness is treated with multiple pulses of light. Depending on the type of laser used, the area being treated and the patient’s sensitivity to pain, this procedure may or may not cause temporary discomfort. Redness, swelling, bruising and itching may occur after vascular laser treatment. Blistering and crusting are other potential post-procedure symptoms. These side effects are usually minor and resolve over a period of a few days to two weeks. Serious complications such as burns or scarring are rare.
What Are the Results of Laser Treatment for Red Skin?
Some patients see substantial reduction in redness after one treatment. However, multiple treatments are usually needed for maximum results. This type of procedure is most effective for very small capillaries close to the surface of the skin. Deeper and larger blood vessels are more resistant to treatment. Occasionally, blood vessels may heal themselves or new blood vessels may form causing redness to return. When this occurs, further treatment is needed to maintain results.