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Using Laser Technology To Treat Acne Rosacea & Sun Damage

Dr. Barry Lycka - March 9, 2015
dr barry lycka, cosmetic dermatologist from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Dr Barry Lycka

Acne Rosacea is an irritating skin condition in which people have the appearance of red faces and red noses, usually due to facial blood vessels becoming enlarged. While there have been other non-laser treatments that could work as a treatment to Rosacea, most industry leading experts agree that laser treatment is usually your best bet.

This week’s episode of Inside Cosmetic Surgery Today has your host, Dr. Barry Lycka, talking to “the laser guy,” Dr. Bernstein about using lasers to treat Acne Rosacea and other  emerging laser treatments and trends.


Finding the Root Cause of Rosacea

Before delving into laser treatments and the “cure” for Rosacea we must first be able to diagnose it. Acne rosacea is a condition where people acquire extra blood vessels in their face from the sun. The sun is 90% the main cause of Rosacea, while people who smoke usually make up the last 10%. Other causes of Rosacea can be pollutants and free radicals that mostly occur in light skinned people; however, it is not limited to them. It is so prevalent that it is estimated that at least 5% of the US population has Rosacea.

Once we acquire these extra blood vessels from the sun, all these stimuli from the fun things in life then make them fill up temporarily- so things like alcohol, coffee, hot, cold, and extreme exercise can trigger it. While we can’t avoid all these things in life we can try to moderate some of these influences but it is almost impossible to avoid all of these Rosacea triggering factors.

3 Important Tips on Rosacea and Sun Damage

Here are three tips that every doctor will give their patients to prevent Rosacea and sun damage:

  1. We get 90% of our sun damage from driving around in a car. 71% of ultraviolet A comes in the car window. Get clear window film. It will help prevent sun damage to only one side of your face
  2. Wear sunscreen ever day. Every doctor will say this to you and it will save your skin as well as save you money in the long run. Most face creams now have an added SPF element to them
  3. Buy sunglasses that have UV lenses. This will protect your eyes which can be the most sensitive to sun damage

Using Lasers to Treat Your Rosacea

There are five things that happen to our skin from the sun that we don’t like. Things like: fine lines, wrinkles, enlarged pores, brown spots, cancer and facial redness and visible veins that we acquire from the sun that we were not born with. So the only thing that attacks Rosacea at the source is a laser treatment. Rosacea almost always comes with pimples on the face from over active oil glands. While there are medicines, which treat the pimples, they really don’t do a lot to address the redness and reduce the visibility of those veins.

This is why lasers are really important for this. Laser treatment has been popular since the early 90’s and the treatments we use today are better fine-tuned to treat those fine blood vessels, they also don’t cause scarring.

Lasers Today vs Lasers Yesterday

Laser’s today have really come a long way in terms of treatment. Years ago with old laser treatments could leave patients with scarring or severe bruising, which would leave people purple like an eggplant for up to ten days after the procedure. Today that is not the case. People can come in for a treatment and leave the office without bruising and can go to work the next day.

The main laser doctors use to treat Rosacea is an Excel V laser, which is a green light laser which targets the blood vessels and the light is taken up by the haemoglobin but not seen by the surrounding skin, so you can remove the blood vessels without hurting the skin- which is key.

Technology behind these lasers is so advanced and has really come a long way to protect the skin before and after the treatment. Most lasers today have a nice cooling spray, which hits the skin before the laser does and cools the skin and makes bruising less likely, as well as, makes it more permeable to the light as well.

Laser treatment does not only help treat rosacea, it can help with wine stain birthmarks and scarring. Red scars can be treated with a laser treatment, which not only treats the redness but also improves the disordered collagen in the scar and even improves range of motion for scars that are restrictive. Technology has really raced forward. There are places where you can get information on these lasers online, and most research will show before and after pictures, which is a fantastic visual.


What’s New With Laser Treatment: Picosecond Lasers

With any laser treatment technology doctors are able to match the pulse duration to the size of the target. For hair removal, the pulses are a 100th of a second. For tattoos they been in the range of billionths of a second but now we are moving into a trillionth of a second- the picosecond. The hope with this latest technology is that these lasers will do a better and faster job of removing tattoos, with much less trauma. The hope is that we see these picosecond lasers being applied to facial rejuvenation to treat people all skin types.

The Future of Laser Technology

One of the big trends that people are seeing now with laser technology is that it is heading into the home. There are companies who are inventing laser hair removal machines, which will be available for home users. We will start seeing a lot of combinations where topical ingredients (creams & lotions) are used with fractionated lasers to deliver them deeper into the skin with in office or with home lasers.

The other things we are going to see is “platforms of lasers,” meaning we are going to have three or four lasers in one machine, so instead of having a doctor buying many lasers, they can buy less machines making laser technology more accessible for more doctors and better results. Doctors are now expecting people to see some more big breakthroughs as well. Most notably doctors believe that not only will lasers will be able to correct any damage they will also be able to create micro holes that they will be able to put medicine directly into the scar, which will help to remake the scar with cleaner results.

Another emerging trend for the future is body sculpting, which uses cold to dissolve fat or ultrasound or radio frequency energy to heat fat so that it undergoes cell death and disappears. This new trend will not eliminate liposuction but the procedures are non-invasive, safe and long-term results.

Final Advice

Protecting your skin from damage is not difficult. It is all about setting a regimen. Finding a good topical regimen can be the difference between having Rosacea or not. One final piece of advice: If you are considering getting laser treatment but you are unwilling to get into the routine of protecting your skin after, getting the procedure will be a waste of time and resources. You have to be willing to set routines in order to protect yourself.

Contact details for Dr Eric Bernstein & Dr Barry Lycka: Dr Eric Bernstein

Telephone: Ardmore: (610) 645 5551

Main Line Center for Laser Surgery

Dr Barry Lycka   

Telephone: Edmonton: 780.425.1212


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