Laser Treatment for Age Spots: Is it Really Effective?
In this day and age, people from all walks of life have constantly been looking for effective ways of treating age spots. One of the most documented treatments for age spots is laser treatment. However, is treatment via laser for age spots really as effective as it has been said to be? This article discusses this question in detail.
Using a laser to remove of age spots has several advantages over other treatments for age spots, one of them being that laser treatment can make you look much younger than you are. This is thanks to the fact that it rejuvenates skin-cell growth. Another advantage is that it is less complicated than surgery; you would recover from laser treatment much faster than you recover from surgery.
In addition, laser treatment also assures you of a more natural-looking result; the lasers do not affect the layout of the skin, so when the skin heals, the patient looks like he/she originally looked.
Five Types of Laser Treatment For Age Spots
Laser treatment for age spots on face is done using a laser instrument to cleanse those spots and blemishes that come about as a result of old age or sun exposure. The procedure can be done in five different ways. These procedures are not far different from each other and the results they bring are almost similar. They are as follows:
1. Ablative laser resurfacing
This procedure involves using a wand-like laser instrument to heat up the skin with the intention of peeling the upper layers of the skin; therefore, it creates a wound. With the upper skin layers are peeled, old and dead cells are removed. Once the wound heals, new and youthful cells are revealed. This type of laser treatment promotes collagen production; collagen stimulates the treated area, causing smoother, more even healing. The side effects may be a mild redness that may last a while longer than two to three weeks. The healing and rejuvenation of the new cells can take two to three weeks.
2. Non-ablative Laser Treatment:
This procedure involves the use of a laser to heat up the skin to stimulate the growth of collagen in the skin without injuring its surface. The enhanced production of collagen gradually heals the age spots. Therefore, this treatment differs from ablative laser resurfacing in the fact that no wound is left after the treatment. Thanks to this fact, non-ablative laser treatment has a faster recovery time of 1-3 days.
3. Fractional laser treatment
This procedure offers deeper rejuvenation with quicker recovery time than that of ablative and non-ablative laser treatment procedures. It is a non-invasive treatment in which special lasers are used to target a fraction or tiny portion of the skin at a time. Therefore, these treatments leave the surrounding areas untouched. Fractional laser treatment bridges the gap between non-ablative and ablative laser treatments. While ablative treatments are done primarily on the epidermis and non-ablative treatments are done exclusively on the dermis, fractional laser treatments can be done on both the epidermis and dermis.
4. Photodynamic therapy
This type of therapy occurs in two stages that are thirty minutes apart. The first part involves an application of a light sensitizing solution then followed by the second part in which a skin laser is directed to the areas with the solution. This procedure helps with all forms of spots and freckles with no side effects and little recovery time.
5. Intense pulsed light
This procedure uses light therapy on the skin. The intense light penetrates through the skin and smoothens out texture and tone without having to harm the skin surface. The light actually penetrates deeper than the lasers in the other procedures making it the best procedure to remove freckles, spider veins and age spots.
All five of these procedures can be used on any part of the body but with control measure of areas with a thinner layer of the skin like just below the eyelids. The most common areas where the procedures are performed on include the face, shoulders, arms and hands.
Length and number of treatments
The procedures take 30-45 minutes for partial skin laser treatments while extensive treatments last up to two hours. Depending with the amount and depth of the spots on the skin, an accredited dermatologist can determine the number of treatments that one would have to undergo to permanently clear the skin. Intense skin spots can take up to three intense treatments with recovery time in between. There are also a few things that one must go over with the dermatologist before the going through with the procedure. Some of them include the following:
- Make sure that there is no risk to cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth since the procedure can trigger the development of such during the healing process.
- One should make sure that he/she avoids medications or supplements. The contents in medications or supplements like aspirin, ibuprofen or vitamin E can affect blood clotting, so such things should be taken at least10 days before the procedures.
- One should also avoid smoking for two weeks before and after the procedures in order to promote better healing.
- One should avoid unprotected sun exposure for up to two months before the procedure. This is because it might cause permanent and irregular pigmentation.
- One should discontinue the use of skin care products to avoid any complications.
- One should always stay hydrated by drinking water and avoiding alcoholic drinks that cause dehydration.
The aftercare is one of the most important parts of the entire process. During this time, there are a number of things you must do to avoid forming of blisters or any further damage to your skin. The treated parts of the skin may be bandaged up for a couple of days after the procedure; however, once the bandages come of, the following are things you must do:
- One should use oil-free makeup for two to three months.
- One should avoid any sun exposure as much as possible. Using sunscreen is allowed on the areas that had the procedure done.
- One should keep the skin well moisturized. Drying of the skin usually leads to forming of blisters and painful tightening of the skin.
The recovery time can take ten days to up to two weeks depending on the intensity and size of the procedure. Within these days, the skin will be red or pink depending on the sensitivity of the skin. Full recovery and rejuvenation of the skin however occurs in two to three months.
The side effects
There are a number of side effects that could occur depending on the intensity of the procedures and the sensitivity of the patient’s skin.
- Forming of scabs over the treated area
- A mild redness of the skin
- Swelling and discomfort on the treated areas.
- Formation of crusts on the skin.
- Itching or stinging in the affected areas.
- Peeling of the old skin.
Even though the procedure works miracles, there are side effects to removing age spots with laser treatment. These side effects slowly fade away with the growth of new skin. The redness of skin is one of the side effects that persist longer than the others. Seeking help from a dermatologist will ensure that the redness is not as health concern.
The intensity of a laser damages the skin and thus could easily result in a series of skin problems such as pain, swelling, bleeding of the affected areas, scarring after the healing process, crusting instead of skin rejuvenation, and discoloration by either lightning or darkening in contrast to the original skin color. There is also the risk of painful blisters forming in the affected areas especially if one fails to practice moisturizing.
Any other form of side effects not found on this list should be immediately taken up with the dermatologist to ensure there is no risk of infection. Assumptions are not to be taken in any situation; this is because skin is sensitive and it can be easily exposed to bacteria leading to a far worse condition than before.
Eligibility For Laser Treatment For Age Spots
Before embarking on the journey to use laser treatment for age spots, one must first consult with a dermatologist to find out if he or she is an eligible candidate for the procedure. As much as spots appear on everyone’s skin due to age and sun exposure, removal of age spots on face with laser is not always the solution for everyone. So how do you know if you are the ideal candidate? The following guidelines should help you to determine who is an eligible candidate and who is not.
- An eligible person can have any of the following conditions on his/her skin: lines, uneven pigmentation, acne that is immune to laser treatments, wrinkles and liver spots. People with slight acne should seek mild solutions rather than ruin or risk damage to their skin.
- The person should have elastic, non-oily skin. Oily skin can result in the forming of blisters. The person’s skin should also be one that is not prone to scarring after small injuries. People with easily scarring skin could develop crusts and discoloration if they undergo the procedure. The blisters that develop after laser treatment of oily skin are normally quite painful and hard to heal.
- The person has to be free of any medical considerations. This is inclusive of prescription medication, and previous or existing skin conditions such as eczema. This is to ensure there are no complications with the healing process.
- Contrary to what most people believe, the better candidate would be somebody with lighter skin tones rather than dark ones. This is because there is the risk of permanent discoloration on people that have darker skin tones.
- A good candidate would be someone with realistic expectations of the procedure; someone who is willing to accept the terms of the treatment and uphold realistic expectations.
One of the best things about laser removal of spots is that it can also be used to treat other forms of blemishes on the skin such as wrinkling due to old age, blotchy skin, scars that give the skin uneven tones, spider lines, and acne.
With such a process, deep pockets come in handy. Because of the nature of the instruments and solutions used, the procedure is expensive. You can be charged from $1500-$2500 for a treatment. In addition, there also aren’t many dermatologists that have perfected the art of laser treatments, so most of the qualified ones are most times overbooked. When you make an appointment, you may have to wait for a long time before you get your turn with the dermatologist.
Pros of the procedures
Despite all of the risks involved with the procedures, there are good things that could come from using laser treatment:
- When well done, this procedure results in enhanced facial beauty and full rejuvenation of your skin.
- Intense and deep procedures result in the production of collagen in the lower dermis of the skin.
- It can be used as a treatment for cancer in the early stages.
- It can be used to clear up scars from injuries and or surgeries but only to some extent.
- It can be used to remove skin growths.
The recovery process is at times slow due to some of the persistent side effects. However, after two to three months, the rejuvenated skin starts to show and one can now fully appreciate the new look. The results are worth waiting for as they are long-lasting; with repeated treatments, the benefits could last up to ten years. You will undoubtedly notice improvements in your skin in terms of skin texture, tones and softer wrinkles.
In conclusion, laser removal of age spots on face can be considered as one of the methods that can be used to maintain a youthful glow to the skin. The procedure, though painful and with few risks, is worth a try.