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Feature Article

Lasers in dermatology

Greg J Goodman

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Abstract

Dermatological lasers offer significant benefits and their range of application continues to increase. GPs need to be able to advise patients as to what procedures are available and the limitations of current technology.

Key Points

  • Vascular laser treatment is now the treatment of choice for a range of vascular disorders, such as telangiectasia, broad erythema, flushing and birthmarks.
  • A range of benign pigmentary conditions can be treated successfully by laser.
  • Tattoos are removable or at least may be lightened significantly by photoacoustic laser treatment, with only a small risk of scarring (less than 5%). Amateur tattoos are easier to remove than professional tattoos.
  • Resurfacing lasers are capable of removing surface layers of the skin, leading to improvement in skin texture. They are useful for treating damage to the epidermis or dermis, such as scarring, sun damage or ageing changes.
  • The best indication for laser hair removal is unwanted dark hair in both females and males.
  • All lasers are capable of inducing complications such as scarring and changes in skin pigmentation. However, complications are uncommon and lasers are usually the safest technology currently available in most conditions for which they are used.

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