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Photo-derm –an advance on laser theraphy

PhotoDerm is a non-invasive medical device that uses light to treat a variety of problems. These include:

· Spider veins on the face

· Rosacea

· Telangiectasia

· Port Wine Stains

· Age Spots (Lentigo)

· Seborrhoeic Keratosis

· Angiomas

· Removal of unwanted hair

The clinic also provides other advanced skin treatments such as Botox and Photorejuvenation.

How does PhotoDerm work?

It works by emitting intense pulsed light (IPL) or laser through the skin to target a vessel or lesion. The treatment damages the lesion or vessel causing it to be broken down into tiny particles where it can be absorbed by the body’s natural defence system. Over a period of days or weeks the vessel or lesion should gradually fade.

The treatment is performed by applying some cool, clear gel over the area to be treated. A small crystal light guide is then placed on the gel, just above the skin surface, over the area to be treated. The skin acts as a ‘window’ in this process so it should not be damaged.

You will be required to wear protective eyeglasses during your treatment as the light emitted is extremely powerful. The sensation you feel as the light or laser targets the vessel or lesion is a short, sharp sting, rather like a splash of hot fat on your skin.

How many treatments are needed?

The number of treatments you are likely to require varies depending on the severity of the condition and the size and density of the area to be treated. Typical treatments range from 3 to 12 sessions, with each session lasting up to approximately 30 minutes. It is important to stress that a particular vein or lesion will require a number of treatments before it begins to disappear. Your condition may look worse and redder for a few days before it starts to get better.

What happens after a treatment visit?

It is common for the site to go red like a sunburn for a few days. Some patients react even more vigorously and develop some bruising, scaling or, very rarely, blistering. The chance of having a reaction is much greater if the skin is tanned or pigmented. It is therefore very important to be aware of the sunshine exposure information.

Does this mean I need to avoid sunshine exposure?

Pigmentation in the skin prevents the light passing safely through the outer layers and into the target beneath. Pigmented skin therefore has two effects upon treatment – firstly, the treatment itself is less likely to be effective – secondly, the pigment in the skin absorbs the energy and creates an unwanted reaction within the skin. To maximise the benefit of treatment and minimise the risk of side effects your skin needs to be as pale as possible at the time of treatment and you should not expose to sunshine for up to three weeks after treatment.

Are treatments guaranteed to be effective?

We are highly trained, motivated and committed to advancing the treatment of the various skin lesions causing cosmetic embarrassment. However, these treatments are at the very forefront of medical progress and, as with any medical treatment, some patients do not respond. The very great majority of our patients gain good improvement and commonly complete resolution of their problem. A very tiny proportion are not helped by these procedures.

Tell me a bit more about the side effects

Most people generally develop some redness and slight swelling for a few days at the treated site and tolerate the PhotoDerm without any problems.

Discomfort – Many people feel some discomfort during treatment, rather like a short ‘sting’ to the exposed area. The discomfort may range from mild to moderate but does not usually last long.

Swelling – Is a temporary condition and not harmful. The swelling usually subsides after a week. Frequent applications of ice packs at home will help to reduce any swelling, particularly if the face or nose has been treated.

Healing wound – Sometimes a crust or blister may occur taking 1-2 weeks to heal. Please try to avoid removing crusts or scabs before they are ready to come off as this may lead to possible scarring. Application of any make up to the affected area is best avoided during this time. If necessary, a mild antiseptic cream may be used, e.g. Germolene or Savlon.

Bruising – Treatments can sometimes cause a blue-purple bruise which may last 1-2 weeks. As the bruise fades there may be a rust-brown discoloration of the skin which may take 1-3 months to fade.

Skin discoloration – Most often occurs with darker skin types or if the treated area has been exposed to sunshine. In some people pigment changes may occur in spite of sun protection.

Scarring – There is a very small chance of scarring. To reduce this possibility it is important to follow all post-treatment instructions carefully.

Fragile skin – Skin surrounding the treatment area may become fragile. Great care should be taken to avoid any possible tearing of the skin. Try to avoid applying make up to the treated area if the skin is fragile.

I understand about sunshine avoidance. Are there any other precautions that I need to take in the immediate period just before a treatment?

We recommend that Aspirin and other anti-inflammatory type medications should be avoided for two days prior to treatment – if necessary consult your doctor.

Please avoid the use of moisturising lotions and bath oils for two days prior to your appointment and self-tanning creams for two weeks before your appointment.

How does the treatment remove blood vessels or pigment from the skin?

The high-intensity light energy passes through the outer layer of the skin and reacts with the colour content of the target, for example the blood contained within a vessel. This reaction causes the target to break into small dead particles which are then absorbed by the body in a natural process.

How does the treatment work against unwanted hair?

In a very similar way, the high intensity light energy passes through the skin but also down the shaft of the hair into the hair follicle itself which is located about 0.7cm below the skin surface. The energy absorbed by the hair follicle turns into heat and the hair follicle is damaged or killed.

I have read that as many as 50% of hair follicles are asleep or dormant in the skin – are these hair follicles affected by a treatment?

No, dormant hair follicles are not damaged by treatment. This is why, even following very successful hair removal therapy, several months later new hairs can re-grow – these are the dormant hair follicles awakening and starting to produce more hair. Fortunately, these will be vastly reduced in numbers and with each successive treatment will become fewer and fewer.

Is hair removal therapy permanent?

Modern technology has only been available for about eight years and patients do seem to benefit for at least this period of time. Beyond that it is impossible to answer the question with any degree of scientific accuracy. We believe it is safer to consider the treatment to be “semi-permanent”.

Does the treatment affect normal hair growth?

A small number of men find that following treatment to the face and beard area (for example, for the red skin condition called rosacea) an unwanted side-effect is reduction in beard growth. This is relatively unusual because the wavelength settings on the machine are usually able to minimise this. However, we have had one or two patients who have commented on a reduction in beard growth following treatment to a variety of facial problems.

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