Laser/Light Therapy for Birthmarks
In laser/light therapy, an intense but gentle beam of light is used on birthmarks without damaging surrounding tissue.
- Birthmarks are highly treatable with laser/light therapy.
- Lightening of 70 to 90 percent is a realistic goal.
- Treatments can be repeated every one to three months, depending on birthmark type, until the patient's goal is achieved.
- Pain and recovery time is minimal.
- Procedure is non-invasive.
As with any treatment, there are risks associated with it, though they are minimized in the hands of a qualified ASDS docotor. These include:
Treatment costs average several hundred dollars. Since most medical insurance companies consider laser/light therapy a cosmetic procedure, treatment usually isn't covered. Factors affecting cost include:
- Type of skin condition being treated.
- Size of skin condition being treated.
- Location of skin condition being treated.
- Number of office visits required for treatment.
- Need for anesthesia, tests or prescriptions.
Preparing for the procedure
Before the procedure, an ASDS doctor will usually review the patient's medical history and conduct a physical exam. This is the time for the doctor and patient to discuss expectations, potential risks and outcomes of the procedure. Patients also should avoid:
- Sunbathing, tanning beds, waxing and any chemical peels or collagen injections for two weeks prior to the procedure.
- Perfumes, deodorants or any potential irritants in the treatment area before treatment.
- Taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements for a doctor-specified time before treatment due to increased risk of bleeding.
What to expect after the procedure
- Patients may not see any significant changes until several weeks after the surgery.
- Treated area may be pink or red for four to eight hours after treatment.
- Patients may feel a slight stinging sensation similar to a mild sunburn in the treated area. This sensation usually subsides within four to six hours. Cool packs or moist cloths may be applied to reduce the sensation.
- Mild swelling in the treatment area usually dissipates within several days.
In addition, patients should:
- Avoid applying makeup, lotion, perfume, deodorant or any potential irritants to the treated area for either 24 hours or until all signs of redness and stinging have dissipated.
- Apply a good moisturizing lotion to the treated area twice daily for the duration of the treatments and for at least three months after the final treatment.
Finding a doctor
Visit "Find a dermatologic surgeon
" and choose "Laser/light Therapy" from the dropdown menu. In 2013, ASDS dermatologists performed nearly 2.25 million laser/light/energy-based procedures, up from 1.68 million in 2012. Because ASDS doctors are trained in a variety of the best and latest techniques, they are the most qualified to evaluate and select the best treatment choice based on the individual patient's condition.