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Laser treatments remove pre-cancerous growths by vaporizing the top layers of skin.
Why choose laser treatment for pre-cancerous growths
Laser treatment is an effective method of treating pre-cancerous skin conditions like epidermal skin cancers. The treatment also promotes collagen production by heating the layers underneath, which stimulates skin in the treatment area to heal smoother and more evenly. This minimally invasive procedure causes little damage to surrounding tissue.
What you should know about laser treatment for pre-cancerous growths
There are several types of pre-cancerous conditions. They include:
Actinic keratosis (AK). Caused when the skin has sustained too much sun exposure and damage, this appears as crusty bumps. Actinic keratosis may be flesh-colored, brown, pink or red. Affected areas may be inflamed, itch or bleed.Actinic chellitis. Similar to AK, but affects the lips, causing dryness, cracking and scales. Lips may appear pale or white.Bowen's disease. A precursor to squamous cell carcinoma, this condition appears as a brown and scaly lesion similar to eczema or psoriasis.
As with any treatment, there are risks associated with laser treatments, though they are minimized in the hands of a qualified ASDS dermatologist. Risks include:
The average cost of laser treatment for pre-cancerous growths can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Since skin cancer treatment usually is considered a medically necessary procedure, part of the cost typically is covered by medical insurance companies.
How to prepare for the procedure
Before the procedure, an ASDS dermatologist will 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/benefits and outcomes of the procedure. Patients also should:
- Discuss any susceptibility to cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth since the procedure can trigger breakouts in at-risk individuals.
- Avoid medications or supplements that can affect blood clotting - such as aspirin, ibuprofen or vitamin E - for 10 days before surgery.
- Avoid smoking for two weeks before and after the procedure.
What to expect after the procedure
Following treatment, your doctor will bandage the treatment area. Patients will be required to:
- Clean the treatment area after the first 24 hours and then four to five times a day thereafter.
- Apply an ointment, such as petroleum jelly, after cleanings to prevent scabs.
Laser therapy patients also can expect the treated area to:
- Swell for 24 to 48 hours after treatment.
- Itch or sting for 12 to 72 hours after treatment.
- Slough and peel off old skin five to seven days after treatment.
Healing typically takes 10 to 21 days, depending on the size and location of the procedure. After the treatment area is fully healed, patients should:
- Use only oil-free makeup for at least two to three months.
- Avoid sun exposure and apply an appropriate sunscreen to the area, which will have a lighter appearance following resurfacing.
- Keep new skin well-moisturized.
Find a doctor for your laser treatment
Visit "Find a dermatologic surgeon" and choose “Skin Cancer Treatments & Reconstruction” from the dropdown menu. In 2013, ASDS doctors performed nearly 3.04 million skin cancer treatments, up from 2.7 in 2012. Because ASDS dermatologists are trained in 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.