Information on Laser Acne Treatment
A laser is a device that emits light of only one wavelength, unlike most sources of light which radiate light waves with many different wavelengths. Lasers are used to treat acne and other imperfections in the skin by removing the upper layers of skin. These layers then grow back without the blemishes.
The removal of the upper layers of skin allows microorganisms to invade the body more easily. Laser acne treatments therefore carry a significant risk of infection if protective measures aren't taken. Patients will normally begin taking antiviral medication before they undergo treatment. Some dermatologists may also require patients to discontinue the use of acne medication to reduce the risk of abnormal scarring.
A carbon dioxide (CO2) laser uses carbon dioxide gas to produce light with a wavelength of about 10 micrometers. It's an older technology that requires a longer recovery time. However, a CO2 laser also produces more predictable long-term results since it has been in use for a longer period of time, according to the Encyclopedia of Surgery.
A crystal composed of erbium, yttrium, aluminum and garnet (Er:YAG) is used in an Er:YAG laser to produce light with a wavelength of about 2.94 micrometers. This wavelength is more easily absorbed by the skin than the light produced by the CO2 laser so the Er:YAG laser requires a shorter recovery time, according to the Encyclopedia of Surgery. However, the Er:YAG laser's results aren't as predictable as CO2 therapy.
The patient is sedated and may also receive twilight anesthesia. The treatment area is usually anesthetized with a local anesthesia, although it may require a nerve block anesthesia if the treatment area is large. Laser acne treatments are typically performed on the face, so the patient's eyes are generally covered.
The laser operator inputs a series of parameters that describe the specific actions that the laser will perform. The laser then makes a number of passes over the treatment area while under the control of a computer. The laser emits a series of very brief pulses of light that ablate the skin, according to the operator's instructions.
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