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What is laser therapy?

At Penn Medicine, our plastic surgeons use state-of-the-art lasers to perform a variety of operations, including reconstructive procedures to restore appearance and function.

The two types of lasers most commonly used in laser therapy are:

  • Blood vessel lasers - Blood vessel lasers can treat vascular lesions, or red blemishes on the skin, by penetrating deep into the tissue to lighten the area. The laser light is absorbed by the blood, causing the vessels to burst. The treatment results in temporary bruising, but gives excellent long-term results.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers - CO2 lasers remove the top layers of skin. More often used in cosmetic procedures, these lasers can also remove lymphatic bubbles (small water-filled blisters).

For many years our doctors have been using lasers to treat a variety of conditions including:

  • Port wine stains
  • Hemangiomas
  • Adult spider veins
  • Facial broken blood vessels (telangiectasias)

Vascular lesions that appear as swollen, bluish bumps on cheeks or lips can also be treated with blood vessel lasers. When these lesions interfere with speech, their removal is considered reconstructive rather than a cosmetic procedure.

Who is a good candidate for laser surgery?

Although insurance providers typically cover reconstructive operations, many vascular conditions are considered to be cosmetic in nature. Our plastic surgeons can help you assess which procedures best meet your surgical needs.

What to Expect

It is important to know that for the maximum results, several procedures may be needed. Though modern medicine can dramatically improve your condition, results are not always uniform.

Many patients are also surprised to learn that many laser procedures require some recovery time. Recovery times vary with different lasers. Each patient is informed on what to expect, special skin care advice and how to care for bruising that may occur. It can take several weeks or even months for the skin redness to diminish.

Risks and Outcomes of Laser Therapy

Every surgery has its risks, but you can minimize the chances of complications by carefully following all instructions both before and after surgery. Potential risks and complications are thoroughly reviewed prior to every procedure.

Like cosmetic laser skin resurfacing, laser therapy has a few specific risks, including:

  • Burns or other injuries from the laser's heat
  • Scars
  • Skin pigmentation changes

When considering any type of laser surgery, it is important to choose a plastic surgeon who understands which lasers are most effective for treating specific conditions.

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