Laser/light Therapy for Sun-damaged Skin

Laser/light therapy is a non-toxic and non-invasive therapy that uses light energy to repair and regenerate skin cells. The procedure reduces the need for medication, improves the outcomes for treated skin conditions and increases the recovery rates of affected tissues.

Why choose Laser/Light Therapy for Sun-damaged Skin?

Benefits of laser/light therapy include:

  • Less need for pain medication following treatment.
  • Increased energy for cells in the treatment area.
  • Improved immune response.
  • Improved healing response.
  • Promotion of collagen for new skin production.
  • Better lymphatic drainage, leading to reduced swelling.
  • Improved blood circulation in treatment area.
  • Reduced inflammation.

Before and after PDT and IPL for photo-damage

Photo courtesy of Jill S. Waibel, MD - Miami, Florida

Before and after photodynamic therapy with Intense Pulsed Light therapy, red and blue light for actinic keratosis

Photo courtesy of Mitchel P. Goldman, MD - San Diego, California

Before and after Intense Pulsed Light therapy

Photo courtesy of Sabrina G. Fabi, MD - San Diego, California

Possible Risks

As with any treatment, there are risks associated with it, though they are minimized in the hands of a qualified ASDS dermatologist. These include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Discoloration
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Crusting

What you should know

During laser/light therapy, a low-level laser, usually red, is applied to the area of sun-damaged skin. The laser transmits photons about three inches into the skin. Mitochondria in the skin membranes absorb the red laser light, causing an increase of adenosine triphosphate levels, leading to an increase in healthy cell production. The process also promotes healing by increasing production of collagen, enzymes and cell growth. The increased collagen production helps prevent scar tissue from forming.

Before (left) and after (right) Photoaging solar lentigenes.

Photo courtesy of Douglas Wu, MD - San Diego, California

Before (top) and after (bottom) pulsed dye laser treatment

Photo courtesy of Mary P. Lupo, MD - Miami, Florida

Before (left) and after (right) Intense Pulsed Light therapy

Photo courtesy of Sabrina G. Fabi, MD - San Diego, Caliornia

What to expect after the procedure

Patients may not see any significant changes until several weeks after the surgery. Other post-procedure issues include:

  • Treated area may be pink or red for four to eight hours after treatment.
  • 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 that usually dissipates within several days.

In addition, patients should:

  • Avoid applying makeup or lotion to the treated area for either 24 hours or until all signs or 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 final treatment.

How to prepare for the procedure

Before the procedure, an ASDS dermatologist 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, chemical peels or collagen injections for two weeks prior to the procedure.
  • Avoid perfumes, deodorants or any potential irritants in the treatment area before and after treatment.
  • Avoid aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements due to increased risk of bleeding.