Age Spots, Sun Damage, Pigmentation - Frequently Asked Questions
1. What types of brown spots or pigmented lesions will the Revlite laser remove?
Revlite is most commonly used for removing brown age spots, "liver spots", sun spots, photo damage, freckles, hyperpigmentation, lentigo and lentigenes and many brown birthmarks. Dr. White will identify your specific type of lesion and discuss the removal success rate associated with it. We do not use lasers for treating cancers or suspected cancers. If in doubt, Dr. White will biopsy any suspicious spots to make sure there is no skin cancer.
2. How long are treatments?
3. Is the process painful?
The Revlite laser emits light in very short flashes of light called pulses. The impact of the energy from the powerful pulse of light is similar to the snap of a thin rubber band. After the treatment, the area will feel similar to a slight sunburn. Typically, within a day or so, any discomfort disappears. The area may remain reddened for two to four weeks. After the redness clears, the skin is returned to its natural smooth coloring and texture; however, Dr. White is trained in the tumescent technique of local anesthesia for painless treatments.
4. How much does it cost?
Cost will be determined by Dr. White at the time of our initial consult. Dr. White charges $100.00 for all laser consults. The cost of your consult will be deducted from the cost of your first treatment. In general, we charge $100.00/square inch/treatment.
5. How many treatment sessions will it take to remove the pigmented lesion?
About 60%-80% of common freckles and age spots resolve after one treatment. Some need a second treatment, and a few need to be treated more than twice. Some blemishes do not disappear completely, but will be significantly lighter in color after treatment.
When Dr. White examines your freckles and age spots, she will be able to give you an estimate of the number of treatments which will be necessary to fade or remove them. Because there is a great deal of variability in the size, depth and darkness of freckles, age spots and pigmented nevi, and because there is some variability in people's natural ability to clear away pigment after laser treatment, it is not possible to "promise" you that a certain result will happen after a fixed number of treatments. Dr. White will explain what is likely to happen, but she cannot precisely predict or guarantee what will happen in any particular case. Dr. White will show you photos illustrating the range of results, from fading through to complete disappearance of the pigmented lesions.
How well your lesions respond depends on several factors. Superficial lesions such as freckles and age spots tend to respond more quickly as compared to deeper, more complex lesions such as the nevus of Ota shown below.
6. Will the freckles and age spots disappear completely?
7. What will happen after treatment?
For the first half-hour after laser treatment the treated area looks pale or white, and may swell slightly. The treated area may feel hot (like a sunburn) for a while after laser treatment, and it might be red and swollen for the rest of the day. There may be pinpoint bleeding for a few hours in areas where there was a lot of pigment, and there probably will be a bit of superficial bruising under the pigmented blemishes. Over the next several days slight superficial blisters or crusting may develop. This will resolve in about one week. Your skin usually returns to normal in about 7 to 14 days.
Occasionally (depending on the severity of your sun damage) the treated area may remain somewhat pink for two to four weeks, and there may be some flaking or peeling during this time. This is a normal process as the body works to eliminate the pigmented blemishes.
There may be some lightening or darkening of the treated for several months after laser treatment. This is usually not very obvious. Protect the treated area from sun exposure until the skin is completely healed and the skin color has returned to normal.
Gentle cleansing of the skin and application of an antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin ointment will help the treated area heal quickly after treatment. Watch for unusual redness, pain, or swelling which might be a sign of infection, and please call us right away if you think an infection is developing. Avoid picking at or irritating the skin after treatment.
8. How does the Revlite laser remove pigmented lesions?
Energy from the Revlite laser is very well absorbed by cells containing excessive concentrations of pigment - and not well absorbed by normal tissue - so the Medlite stimulates your body to eliminate the unwanted excessive pigment while having little or no effect on other tissues or on normal skin color.
If the area to be treated has a fresh sun tan or has been treated with self-tanning lotion, it is best to wait a couple of weeks for the tan to fade before having treatment, because the tan will absorb and waste some of the laser energy intended for the pigmented lesion. A fresh sun tan (or color from a recent application of self-tanning lotion) could also absorb enough laser energy to increase the risk of skin irritation or blistering.
If you take ASA, alcohol or vitamin E during the week before your pigmented lesions are treated with the Revlite laser there might be a bit more bruising in the treated area.
Most people find that Revlite laser treatment of pigmented blemishes is not particularly painful - each pulse of laser light is similar to the snap of a thin rubber band, or tiny specks of hot bacon grease on the skin. There may be less discomfort if a second treatment is needed, because as the freckles and age spots fade there is less pigment to absorb laser energy.
Most patients do not require anesthesia, but ice packs, anesthetic creams or local anesthetic can be used if necessary. If there is a large or sensitive area to be treated, a couple of plain Tylenol can be taken to raise your pain threshold somewhat before laser treatment.
No other special preparation is needed. The high power of the Revlite allows large diameter, deeply penetrating laser beams to be used, and will help to speed up the resolution of your pigmented lesions.
9. What are the risks of treatment?
In most cases, the laser treatment leads to satisfactory fading or complete removal of the freckles and age spots without significant side effects. The most common problem is incomplete removal of brown spots or pigmented nevi. Some spots are relatively resistant, although there is almost always a worthwhile amount of improvement.
Scarring is very rare. Infection is also very rare and is usually prevented or treated by using antibiotic creams like Polysporin. Loss of pigment from normal skin is rare and usually minimal.You can reduce the chance of irregular tanning - and reduce the chance that the freckles and age spots will come back -- by protecting the treated area from sun exposure. Hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin) or hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) are quite infrequent, and are almost always temporary.
Confidential consultations about Laser Skin Treatments for Age Spots, Freckles, Sun Damage, Pigmented Lesions, Hyperpigmentation, Lentigo Lentigenes can usually be arranged within two or three weeks simply by calling us at (336) 659-2663 or our special toll free BOTOX® Cosmetic line at 1-877-WE BOTOX (932-6869). Treatment or a skin test can be done the same day as the consultation, if you wish.
No referral is needed for Laser Skin Treatments.
Schedule a consultation or call us now at 877 WE BOTOX or 336.659.2663!
*All prices for treatments or products are subject to change without notice
Dr Anne L. White, Carolina Laser and Cosmetic Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has trained internationally in the latest techniques of non-invasive, no downtime cosmetic and dermatology treatments.
A Fellow of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Dr. White has specialized in cosmetic laser treatments for more than 10 years. She is an expert in laser treatments for the face and body including laser liposuction for fat removal and body contouring, laser cellulite removal, laser facelift and neck contouring, laser hair removal, laser tattoo removal, BBL phototherapy IPL, laser ProFactional Therapy for skin resurfacing, microlaserpeel, Limelight Photofacial, Laser Genesis, laser skin rejuvenation , laser skin resurfacing, laser treatment for age spots, sun damage and pigmentation, laser treatment for spider veins and varicose veins, as well as the procedures Thermage for Eyes and Ultherapy ultrasound facelift and sclerotherapy.