Almost everyone has a few brown spots on their skin, whether they are age spots, moles birthmarks, or freckles. These brown spots are referred to as pigmented lesions. Melanin is a dark pigment present in skin that is produced by melanocytes. When there is an abundance of melanocytes in the skin and the dark pigment multiplies, freckles, age spots, and moles form.
Most pigmented lesions are very small and unnoticeable, but sometimes pigmented legions can be large and take away from your natural beauty. At Smith Cosmetic Surgery, laser technology is used to successfully lighten or remove pigmented lesions from your skin.
The types of pigmented lesions that can be treated with laser include:
- Hyper-pigmentation from sun exposure
- Hyper-pigmentation from hormones (melasma or chloasma)
- Hyper-pigmentation from injury (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation):
- Abrasions or cuts
- Over-exposure to heat
- Hair waxing
- Insect bites or itchy rashes
- Improperly performed chemical peels
- Lentigines – flat, brown spots on the skin that result from sun exposure
- Keratoses – slightly elevated pigmented spots often found on the back and hands
- Freckles – brownish spots on the skin that are common on people with fair skin
- Dermatosis papulosis nigra – small, black marks seen primarily in people of Asian or African descent
- Nevus of ota – blue hyperpigmentation
How does laser removal work?
A laser generates an intense beam of light. This beam brings energy to a specific treatment area through a small hand piece that is connected to the laser console. The light from the laser is absorbed by oxyhemoglobin (bright red blood cells carrying oxygen) and melanin/pigment (black or brown pigment found in the skin). The heating destructs unwanted cells while leaving healthy cells intact.
How many treatments will it take?
Many superficial conditions can be completely removed in just one treatment, but the number of treatments required can vary depending upon patient characteristics and the area being treated. Factors such as the depth and amount of melanin pigment being treated will determine how many treatments are necessary. Three to four treatments are usually enough to remove most black or brown spots.
What should I expect during treatment?
Dr. Smith will have you wear protective goggles and perhaps be seated in a reclined position, depending on the location of the treatment. Dr. Smith will use a hand piece to direct a beam of laser light to the lesion.
Is the treatment painful?
The laser pulse releases heat when it comes into contact with melanin pigment so the procedure can cause discomfort, ranging from a mild snapping sensation to a more moderate level of discomfort. Dr. Smith can provide you with a topical or local anesthetic to make you feel comfortable during treatment, although many patients can tolerate laser treatment without anesthesia.
Are there any side effects to treatment?
Some patients report redness that goes away in two to four hours following treatment. Some swelling may also be experienced for one to two days.
What post-operative care is required?
Post-operative care is minimal. Dr. Smith will likely recommend that you stay out of the sun during the healing process. Final treatment results should be evident within three to six weeks after treatment for pigmented lesions. In the meantime, normal daily activities can be resumed.