Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL)

Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL)

PDL treatments usually take only a few minutes and are performed during an outpatient clinic visit. No anesthesia or cream anestehesia is required, as the machine produces a cold air before, during and after the laser pulse, diminishing the sensation of pain. Most patients usually need between 2-4 treatments. Patients with port wine stains, hemangiomas and extensive rosacea may need more treatments. Improving the appearance of red scars, hypertrophic scars or keloids may take a variable number of treatments. As with any other treatment, incomplete response or recurrence may occur.

What is it?

The pulsed dye laser is a device producing bright yellow light that is absorbed by abnormal blood vessels, which in turn are destroyed without damaging the surrounding skin. The laser uses yellow light, which is very safe and does not result in any long-term skin damage.

This laser has a pen like handle, produces 3-5 or 7 mm laser spot size and is used to trace over smaller vessels and red spots. It does not have a cold tip or cooling device.

Vascular lasers selectively target and damage unwanted or abnormal blood vessels and are used by dermatologists to treat "broken capillaries", persistent facial redness, rosacea, burns, scars and vascular (red or purple) birth marks.

Factors such as the age, color and type of lesions, as well as the location on the body, all determine whether lesions can be removed.

What can be treated?

Number of sessions?

PDL therapy is dependent upon the underlying condition. Patients with redness and telangiectasia (blood vessels) will typically require an average of 2 to 3 treatments. Patients with port wine stains usually require many treatments (an average of six or so) to lighten port wine stains. Facial port wine stains typically do best, whilst more distal areas, such as the hands and lower limbs, typically do relatively poor.

Side effects?

Some patients experience redness or mild swelling in the treated area immediately following treatment, this usually goes away in a few hours. Occasionally purpura, a laser bruise, may occur. Purpura is transient and usually disappears in three to seven days.

Results?

Permanency of results depends on many factors, such as the condition being treated, and the lifestyle of the patient. Conditions such as spider nevus and facial blood vessels will typically clear with therapy. Other conditions, such as rosacea and port wine stains (which are typically caused by ‘internal factors’), do gradually tend to recur. However, excellent improvement is seen for years following successful therapy.

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