What is a laser? A laser is a high-energy beam of light
that can selectively transfer its energy into tissue
to treat the skin. Lasers contain a material that produces
and amplifies light. Two mirrors cause the light to
reflect back and forth through this material. The result
is a light beam that is collimated and intense. This
light is either one pure color or several different
pure colors. These properties which separate the laser
from a light bulb, are important to the medical application
procedures cannot be done without the laser. Likewise,
many procedures are better performed without the laser.
Even with the sparkle, pure color, and high-energy
beam, the laser is not always the best tool for surgery.
The choice of using a laser or other surgical methods
is carefully made by the facial plastic surgeon. Your
surgeon has the preference to consider the results,
the possible complications, and the alternatives.
this pamphlet, you will find some of the procedures
that can be performed with the laser. You are also
given a brief explanation of the laser. Always remember
that there are very few "right" and "wrong" answers
with laser surgery. Many procedures can be performed
with different lasers. The choice of the laser depends
upon many factors, including the surgeon's experience,
the size of the area to be treated, and the expectations
of the patient.
Can Laser Surgery Do For You?
use of lasers in medicine is complex, and your facial
plastic surgeon is trained in the use of lasers and
understands how and when to use a laser. Your surgeon
will decide if a laser is appropriate, and which laser
is best for the situation.
medicine, physicians can use lasers to make incisions,
vaporize tumors, close blood vessels, selectively
reduce pigmentation, or even treat skin wrinkles.
The laser makes it possible to change tissue without
making an incision. So a surgeon can treat birthmarks
or damaged blood vessels, remove port-wine stains,
and shrink facial "spider veins" without major surgery.
it any wonder that many facial plastic surgeons use
lasers on a routine basis? They use the laser as a
"light scalpel." The tissue is left sterile, and bleeding
is greatly reduced. When the laser is used to treat
port-wine stains, no cuts are made. The laser energy
penetrates through the skin to shrink the abnormal
blood vessels that are the cause of these marks.
of Laser Surgery
Laser Skin Peeling
Lasers can be used to reduce wrinkles around the lips
or eyes, even the entire face, softening fine wrinkles
and removing certain blemishes on the face.
Removal of Birthmarks and Skin Lesions
Port-wine stain birthmarks respond remarkably well
to laser treatment. The abnormal blood vessels that
cause these marks are reduced in size by the laser.
This results in a lightening of the treated area.
Skin growths, facial "spider veins," warts, and some
tattoos respond to laser surgery. Most situations
take more than one laser treatment, but some respond
to a single treatment.
facial plastic surgeon often uses the minimum laser
intensity possible. The low intensity requires many
treatments. However, the low intensity also preserves
as much of the healthy tissue as possible. This produces
an aesthetically pleasing result. Many of these laser
surgeries are performed as outpatient treatments in
hospitals or offices.
In this procedure, lasers are used to prepare the
area where the hair transplants will be placed.
There are constant technologic advances which lead
to even new applications of future generations of
lasers. Please ask your doctor to discuss the latest
advances with you.
your surgeon has indicated that a laser can be helpful
in the surgery, your surgeon will explain the laser
of choice and what can be accomplished. As with all
surgery, the laser has its limitations. Often the
results are spectacular. Your surgeon will give you
the best judgment for the particular procedure.
surgeons may use local anesthetics to numb the treated
area before the surgery. Surgery can sometimes be
done in the surgeon's office; other times the surgeries
are performed in outpatient facilities at a clinic
or hospital. Your surgeon will decide on the appropriate
method, dictated by the nature of the surgery.
safety is a major component of laser use, your surgeon
will describe safety precautions before the surgery.
If you are treated with a local anesthetic, you will
be required to wear protective glasses or goggles
during laser use.
to Expect After Laser Surgery
After the surgery, you will probably experience some
swelling and skin redness for several days. Antibiotic
ointments may be used during the healing process.
It is important for the patient to follow all the
post-operative directions of the surgeon, particularly
in using sunblock and avoiding sun exposure.
The full impact of the laser may not be apparent for
a month or two, especially with vascular deformities.
Additional treatment sessions will not be scheduled
until the healing process for a particular treatment
It is important for the patient to realize that lasers
have specific applications. The facial plastic surgeon
is experienced in the use of the laser and is the
best source of information as to whether laser surgery
is appropriate for your condition.
Insurance does not generally cover surgery that is
done purely for cosmetic reasons. Surgery to correct
or improve congenital deformities or accidental skin
injuries may be reimbursable in whole or in part.
It is the patient's responsibility to check with the
insurance carrier for information on the degree of
Copyright 2000 American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive