Α) What is LASER?
Laser is an advanced technology device that produces light of a specific wavelength. That is enhanced light having a stable and unique colour. In every laser system there is a different material specific to each laser and defines the colour of the emitted light (the laser is named after such material, e.g. alexandrite, dioxide etc.). When this material is stimulated, light is produced, which is then emitted through an optical fibre to the skin in a controlled way. Light is emitted either continuously or with pulse-duration modulation. Important for the applications are the LASER colour and other parameters, such as the intensity and size of the light beam, as well as pulse duration. Modern systems are also equipped with a mechanism that cools the skin concurrently with every pulse. Depending on the colour and the modulation of the above parameters, the enhanced LASER light is capable of only acting on specific targets within the skin, without affecting other components or organs, which is known as “selective photothermolysis”. This specific action of the laser is achieved because different skin components absorb different light colours without being influenced by others.
B) Why are there multiple Dermatologic LASERs?
Every LASER system targets a specific problem of the skin. The type of LASER (namely, its colour and parameters) defines its therapeutic applications. For instance, we use a different LASER to treat warts and a different one to eliminate a blood vessel from the skin. LASERs were first applied in Medicine by Dermatologists half a century ago to remove tattoos. Since then, major technological advancements along with the cumulative clinical expertise have used LASERs in order to respond to the many and increasing requirements of modern dermatology and aesthetic medicine. LASER technology allows us to treat every lesion without damaging the healthy adjacent tissues. Different LASER types are required for every case, either on their own or combined with others. Therefore the Dermatologist today can combine many advanced LASERs with other “non-invasive methods”, in order to fully treat every case with a tailor-made solution. Thanks to their selective action, they correct various aesthetic problems and help treat skin disorders. In recent years, they have entered decisively the anti-aging treatment.
C) What is Photolysis and intense pulsed light and how is it different from LASER?
The term Photolysis refers to systems called Intense Pulsed Light sources (IPLs). This light is very different from LASER as it has a broad spectrum of many visible and invisible colours. In order to obtain some of the LASER capabilities, these systems use various filters that limit the range of colours depending on the desired application.
Thus, the same photolysis system can be used for different applications by changing the filter each time. However, since these systems cannot emit light that has the stable and unique colour of LASER, they have less selective action and are therefore less efficient. While they do have a place in the practice of Dermatology (alone or in combination with LASER), they are most often used in non-medical slimming and aesthetics centres.
A very popular treatment is hair removal, which is also less painful. In most cases however, multiple sessions are required without achieving the permanent LASER result.
Pulsed light has good results in skin rejuvenation. It eliminates dark spots and superficial vessels and makes the skin look younger, but cannot achieve skin tightening and deep anti-aging.
Of course, pulsed light is not harmless. It must be used by experienced operators, so as to avoid adverse effects, such as burns.
D) What are the applications of Dermatologic LASER?
LASER light acts on various targets on the skin, achieving their selective elimination, activation or deactivation. Therefore plenty of applications are possible, the principal ones being described in the relevant links of the website.