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Pigment Problems

All pigmented lesions contain melanin, it conveys colour to hair and skin and functions to protect the skin from sun exposure (ultraviolet radiation). The quantity of melanin in the skin is increased by sunlight, resulting in the process known as tanning. Lasers are effectively used for the treatment of pigmented lesions because they can selectively damage or destroy the darker area with little or no damage to the surrounding skin. Laser light is absorbed by the pigment melanin, where it is converted into heat causing break-up of the darker areas.

Lasers are ideal for treating the following pigment problems:-

  • Brown age spots (also called liver spots or solar lentigines) are pigment accumulations in the upper layer of the skin due to sun exposure. They occur on the face, neck, chest and back as well as forearms and hands.
  • Freckles (epithelides) are small spots of concentrated pigment stimulated by the sun that remain in stable locations on sun exposed areas.
  • Café-au-lait spots are the light brown colour of milky coffee; they can be small or large and appear on any part of the body.

The complex choice of which laser to use in the treatment of a pigmented lesion is often taxing for the most experienced laser physician. It depends on numerous factors including the type and depth of lesion, its size and location, and the patient’s underlying skin type. It is important that intervention does not make matters worse. A full medical consultation is essential for diagnosis, confirmation and exclusion of pigment problems associated with malignancy such as melanoma. At Cambridge Skin and Laser Clinic all consultations for pigmented lesions are carried out by a doctor.

Before treatment

After treatment

Our expert medical team has in excess of 20 years laser experience and have completed more than 100,000 successful treatments. Rest assured you are in safe hands. All procedures at Cambridge Skin & Laser Clinic are performed by fully qualified doctors, nurses and practitioners. To ensure the highest ethical standards are maintained at all times, staff at Cambridge Skin & Laser Clinic are never offered bonus incentives to sell treatments.

We are a CQC (Care Quality Commission) registered clinic that is regularly inspected and assessed by government. This is the best indicator available that the clinic is trustworthy.

How does the treatment work?

Laser light is absorbed by the pigment melanin, where it is converted to heat causing break-up of the darker areas. Because only the darker area is precisely targeted by the laser the surrounding areas are not harmed.

Can all skin colours be treated?

We do not treat pigment problems on darker skin types due to the high risk of hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin’s complexion). Treatments are limited to lighter skin types I-III.

Is the treatment painful?

The energy is delivered in very short flashes of laser light called pulses. As the laser light pulses impact onto the skin’s surface the sensation is similar to the snap of a thin rubber band. The procedure only produces mild discomfort.

Which laser and IPL systems do we use?

Cambridge Skin & Laser Clinic offers the complete range of laser and light technologies best suited to treat pigmented lesions, ensuring optimal results.

  • Ruby 694 nm Q switched laser
  • Alexandrite 755nm LP laser
  • KTP 532 nm Q switched laser
  • Nd YAG 1064nm Q switched laser
  • IPL 540 – 950nm light source
  • IPL 570 – 950nm light source
  • Er Yag 2940nm laser
  • C02 10,600nm laser

Are their any after-effects following the treatment?

Within 5-10 minutes of treatment, mild redness (erythema), mild swelling (oedema) and darkening of the lesion (hyperpigmentation) will be evident around the treated lesions. The mild redness and swelling may be evident for several hours, it is similar to sunburn and usually does not interfere with daily activities. There is usually no blistering or bruising. The lesion will continue to darken and exfoliate within 2-3 weeks.

What type of post-treatment skin care is necessary?

Following and throughout the course of laser treatment, the treated skin is sensitized to sunlight. It is essential that a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen SPF 30 or greater is used daily.

Who performs the treatment?

Our expert medical team has in excess of 20 years laser experience and have completed more than 100,000 successful treatments. Rest assured you are in safe hands. All procedures at Cambridge Skin & Laser Clinic are performed by fully qualified doctors, nurses and practitioners.

To ensure the highest ethical standards are maintained at all times, staff at Cambridge Skin and Laser Clinic are never offered bonus incentives to sell treatments.

How many treatments are needed?

A series of 2 to 4 treatments at monthly intervals is usually recommended for the treatment of pigmented lesions.

Is laser treatment safe?

There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest laser treatment can lead to skin disorders or increase the risk of skin cancer. We are a CQC (Care Quality Commission) registered clinic that is regularly inspected and assessed by government. This is the best indicator available that the clinic is trustworthy.

Our lasers are cleared by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and have full CE clearance for Europe.

One of the most common requests in aesthetics is the removal of ‘Brown spots’ and other pigmented lesions. Because all pigmented lesions contain the light absorbing pigment melanin, lasers are often used to selectively target pigment, whilst sparing surrounding normal structures.

Melanin is produced by specialist skin cells within the epidermis called melanocytes. These cells insert granules of melanin into tiny structures within the cell called melanosomes. Melanocytes are branched cells with finger like projections. As the melanosomes mature, they migrate to the tips of the projections and are transferred into the surrounding skin cells.

pigmented-lesions

The complex choice of which laser to use in the treatment of a pigmented lesion is often taxing for the most experienced laser physician. It depends on numerous factors including the type and depth of lesion, its size and location, the patient’s underlying skin type and other variables.

By selecting the appropriate laser wavelength (colour) and pulse width (shutter speed) a pigmented lesion can be destroyed with little or no injury to normal surrounding skin.

Effect of pulse width (shutter speed)

The time a laser beam remains or dwells on a particular area is very important. Medical lasers usually deliver energy in pulses, typically in the nanosecond (ns) or millisecond (ms) range. A pulse of light with a wavelength absorbed by the pigmented lesion that dwells on the target just long enough to heat the target, cutting off before any heat is allowed to transfer to normal adjacent tissue, will destroy the target and spare the surrounding structures. The pulse width needs to shorter than the thermal relaxation time (the time required for an object to cool to half the temperature) of the structure. The length of the pulse width is roughly proportional to the size of the target.

If the target is very small (intracellular melanosomes) a Q switched laser with a pulse width of nanoseconds will best match the thermal relaxation time, destroying the stored pigment, leaving the melanocytes which are producing the melanin relatively undamaged.

When the aim is to destroy larger melanin containing cellular structures a millisecond pulse laser will best match the thermal relaxation time, allowing the heat energy to spill over from the stored pigment into the surrounding melanocytes and keratinocytes causing more extensive thermal damage.

If the pigmented part of the lesion is bulky or above the surface of the adjacent skin, a laser with a non–selective thermal effect such as the Er Yag 2940nm laser or CO2 10,600 nm laser might be the most appropriate choice

The effect of wavelength (colour)

Several different laser wavelengths can be used to selectively treat pigmented lesions, including green (KTP 532nm laser), yellow (PDL 585nm laser), red (Ruby 694nm laser and Alexandrite 755nm laser) and infrared (Nd Yag 1064nm laser)

Other components of the skin (blood and protein) also compete with melanin to absorb laser light, and as a result, shorter wavelengths (KTP 532nm and PDL 585nm laser) do not penetrate the skin as deeply as longer wavelengths.

A useful therapeutic window of wavelengths exists between 630nm – 1100nm where melanin absorption exceeds that of haemoglobin and laser light penetrates deeply.

As the absorption of melanin falls as the wavelength increases, higher fluences (power) are required at longer wavelengths to produce the same damage to the melanosomes.

To complicate matters, melanin normally present in the skin may compete with the melanin in a pigmented lesion, which can further limit the choice of wavelength in a given patient. The depth and relative content of melanin in the skin and pigmented lesion determines which laser wavelength is most appropriate for a given patient.

Cambridge Skin & Laser Clinic offers the complete range of laser and light technologies best suited to treat pigmented lesions, ensuring optimal results.

Ruby 694 nm Q switched laser

  • Alexandrite 755nm LP laser
  • KTP 532 nm Q switched laser
  • Nd YAG 1064nm Q switched laser
  • IPL 540 – 950nm light source
  • IPL 570 – 950nm light source
  • Er Yag 2940nm laser
  • C02 10,600nm laser

A full medical consultation is essential for diagnosis, confirmation and exclusion of pigment problems associated with malignancy such as melanoma. At Cambridge Skin and Laser Clinic all consultations for pigmented lesions are carried out by a doctor.

The initial consultation is free of charge with no obligation to undergo treatment. Costs vary depending on the area treated.

PRICE PER SESSION: Pigment problems
Cambridge Skin and Laser Clinic can advise you on the right treatment for your skin. Prices start from £85 per session. Call now to arrange a free consultation with our experts.

Please Note: Prices quoted are per session and are an approximate guide only. If you require a more accurate pricing prior to consultation, please contact us directly.

Although laser treatment may seem expensive, one must bear in mind the enormous acquisition and maintenance costs of the laser devices.

A combination of treatments at Cambridge laser has transformed my life. I look younger and feel more confident and people tell me I look refreshed. I will definitely carry on with treatments and maintenance treatments.

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All consultations are free of charge so why not call our team of experts today?
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