While several common medical laser devices for cosmetic applications, not all are appropriate for every patient. The physician directing treatment must understand skin color and type. A delegated physician can help with the procedure, but there is no substitute for a medical professional’s knowledge of the patient’s condition. For example, a hammer can only make nails look good, but it cannot treat a clogged nail bed.
The common use of medical lasers in cosmetic procedures began as early as 1963. First, the ruby laser was used to treat skin diseases, and later, CO2 and argon lasers were used to treat benign vascular birthmarks. While the latter caused scarring, CO2 lasers proved to be effective for removing acne scars. Today, lasers of various wavelengths are used for skin rejuvenation and resurfacing.
Theodore Maiman developed the first medical laser. It worked by energizing a solid ruby and creating a beam of light. Maiman also developed the CO2 laser, which emits a high-concentration light beam. The CO2 laser was useful in the first stages of cosmetic procedures because it absorbed water and vaporized tissue. Other common lasers were made from neodymium-yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd-YAG) and other active media.
When selecting a cosmetic device, consider its capabilities and cost. Not all devices are created equal, and not all patients have the same needs. In addition to focusing on the procedure’s purpose, a clinician must also consider the device’s spot size and cutting speed. Different spot sizes will facilitate a more precise incision and ablative tightening. Also, a lower-end CO2 device doesn’t fire as fast and will have a longer downtime. In addition, increasing the power of a laser may also cause more downtime.
A fractionated laser, Fraxel uses a 1550-nm wavelength to stimulate collagen production. Although Fraxel doesn’t cause tissue removal, it does achieve a tighter skin appearance. A clinician should know when to use a fractional CO2 device versus a non-ablative laser. Non-ablative devices are more effective for treating pigmented lesions. They can be used to penetrate deeply without removing tissue and can target different depths.
OPSL, or side-splitting ophthalmic laser, is a medical laser used in cosmetic procedures. It uses an optical fiber inserted inside a one-millimeter cannula to destroy fat cells and other abnormal tissues. Compared to different types of lasers, this procedure uses a smaller incision, which means less bleeding and scarring. The wavelength of OPSL varies from 920 to 1,320 nm. Lasers with the 920-nm wavelengths are more effective in treating fat tissue because they have the lowest absorption coefficient. On the other hand, lasers in the 1,320-1,444-nm range have the highest absorption coefficient in fat and stone. As such, they allow for superficial treatment.
OPSL is also commonly used in cosmetic procedures and is a type of tunable dye laser. It is an ideal laser for skin care because it works on a basic principle – absorption of light by targeted tissues and heating them to produce the desired effect. Because different tissues absorb different wavelengths, several types of OPSL are available for cosmetic procedures. Unlike a CO2 laser, an OPSL can focus on a small area without damaging the surrounding skin.
A picosecond medical laser device is a new type of cosmetic laser that operates on a selective photothermolysis principle. These devices deliver extremely short pulse widths that can overcome the target’s Stress Relaxation Time and result in a superior elimination of pigmentation and protection of the underlying tissue. It is the only cosmetic laser with this kind of power, and this technology is being rapidly adopted by cosmetic dermatologists.
In terms of penetration depth, picosecond medical laser devices for cosmetic applications can achieve maximum results in removing multi-colored tattoos, which are two to three times more effective than those from ns-domain Q-switched lasers. The treatment also takes half the time, whereas picosecond lasers can eliminate several colored tattoos in a single session.
Pulsed dye medical laser devices for cosmetic applications are effective in various skin conditions, ranging from acne vulgaris to port-wine stains. The wavelengths of 585 nm and 595 nm are most suitable for these treatments, and the treatment is usually repeated every four to six weeks. In addition, the use of pulsed lasers for the treatment of rashes has also shown promise.
The main characteristic of a pulsed dye laser is its ability to deliver an intense beam of light to the skin, which is focused on the blood vessels beneath the surface. The laser heats the targeted blood vessels without damaging the surrounding tissues. Because of this feature, the light emitted by a pulsed dye laser is yellow, which will not damage the skin in the long run. Patients are usually sprayed with a cold spray before the treatment, which reduces the risk of any skin damage or discomfort. The number of treatments a patient receives depends on the severity of the skin condition that he or she is trying to treat and can range from one to as many as ten.