Article medically reviewed by Dr. Gavin Chan (MBBS, cosmetic physician, liposuctionist)
Templestowe Lower and Berwick Clinics
Dr. Gavin Chan has a background in intensive care, anaesthesia, and emergency medicine. Since 2004, Dr. Chan has provided cosmetic procedures, including anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, liposuction, fat transfer, skin needling, and laser treatments. He is a doctor trainer for various dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections.
How can laser help my skin?
Laser is a relatively new technology in the treatment of various skin problems. Prior to laser, often surgical or other more invasive methods were used to treat the skin, leading to long recovery periods or significant risks to the skin. Laser is simply a specific single wavelength of light, able to induce specific changes in the skin. It can be used for the treatment of many skin-related concerns, including pigmentation, tattoos, scarring, vascular conditions (redness), excessive or unwanted hair growth, skin tightening, skin texture and wrinkles.
Some lasers are classified as non-ablative as these lasers are able to accurately and specifically target a particular problem in the skin. It is this specificity for a particular target that allows laser to successfully treat problems such as a sunspot, capillary, or hair without affecting the surrounding normal skin. The means by which these lasers are able to be specific to a certain target is described in the theory of selective photothermolysis.
Other lasers are able to ablate (vapourise) a layer of skin and heat the skin to induce new collagen production and collagen reorganisation to reduce wrinkles, tighten skin, and improve skin texture. These lasers are classified as ablative lasers.
What is the difference between IPL and laser?
What can be treated with laser and how?
There are various skin issues that can be treated with laser.
These will be addressed individually;
Lasers that are highly attracted to melanin (the pigment in the skin) can specifically target problems of pigmentation (brown spots), including solar lentigos (sun spots), melasma, freckles, brown birthmarks, and deeper pigmentation problems. The lasers used for this include the; Ruby laser, PiQo4 laser, and Gemini laser. These lasers work specifically to target the pigmentation problem independently of the normal skin, as there is usually more melanin in the area to be treated than the normal skin. Hence the attraction of the laser to this problem area is greater, allowing it to target it specifically, with minimal disruption to the surrounding normal skin. (hormonal pigmentation),
Vascular conditions – capillaries, veins, red coloured birthmarks (port wine stain)
There are lasers that are also highly attracted to oxyhaemoglobin, a constituent of blood. This property allows these laser to target and treat vascular conditions. Lasers in this category include the; Gemini laser, and Pulsed dye laser.
Problems such as superficial visible broken capillaries (often associated with conditions such as rosacea), facial veins, and red coloured birthmarks (Port Wine Stains), are examples of vascular conditions that can be treated with these lasers. Through their high attraction to oxyhaemoglobin, these lasers are able to specifically heat up their target e.g a blood vessel, and by doing so, cause them to close down.
For more information on the treatment of facial redness / rosacea, click here.
For more information on the treatment of red coloured birthmarks / Port Wine Stains, click here.
Tattoos of all colours can be removed with minimal disruption to the skin using today’s laser technology. In comparison to all other methods of tattoo removal, laser provides the greatest chance of returning the skin to a pre-tattooed state without scarring. Lasers such as the Medlite laser and Ruby laser are highly attracted to the tattoo ink pigments. They emit extremely short pulses, in the order of one billionth of a second. These short pulses transmit minimal heat energy to the skin, but are able to shatter the tattoo pigments and allow the body to remove the broken down tattoo particles. Usually multiple laser sessions are required to remove professional tattoos. All types of tattoos can be removed with laser, including cosmetic tattooing (e.g eyeliner, eyebrow, or lip tatttoing), traumatic tattoos (where a foreign substance has been embedded in the skin), amateur and professional tattoos. Of note, the Ruby laser is the best laser for removing green tattoo ink.
For more information on laser tattoo removal, click here.
Long-term hair reduction can be achieved with laser treatments*. The appropriate lasers can selectively heat hair without any significant effect on the skin. Hair removal lasers are attracted to melanin, the pigment that is found in skin and hair. Because hair has 6 times more melanin than skin, the lasers are much more highly attracted to the hair than the surrounding skin. The laser energy can heat the hair’s DNA to the point where it is denatured and is unable to regenerate.
The best skin-hair type combination for laser hair removal is fair skin and dark hair. However, with different laser wavelengths, it is possible to successfully perform laser hair removal on olive or darker skin types. For these skin types, we use the Nd:YAG laser.
The primary laser we use to remove hair is our Apogee Elite laser from Cynosure.
For more information on laser hair removal in general, click here.
*Blonde, grey, and vellus hairs cannot be treated with laser. Laser hair removal is often purported to be 100% complete and permanent, and in most cases it is not. Usually, long-term hair reduction is achievable though.
Wrinkles and skin texture
The treatment of wrinkles and skin texture usually requires the use of ablative lasers such as the carbon dioxide laser or the erbium laser. These machines improve the appearance of wrinkles by ‘resurfacing’ the skin. The recovery times for these treatments are usually 1 to 2 weeks. A layer of skin is vapourised from the skin surface, and heat energy is deposited into the skin. This causes reorganisation and regeneration of collagen fibres, leading to the growth of new skin that has fewer wrinkles, improved texture and tightness.
Although there are a number of ‘no downtime’ laser treatments that purport to improve wrinkles and skin texture, usually the results achieved from these are less significant than those achieved from the aforementioned ablative lasers. Multiple treatments with lasers such as the Medlite laser, can help with skin texture and wrinkles. These lasers also induce reorganisation and regeneration of collagen, but as they are non-ablative, they cause less injury to the skin and not as much subsequent improvement.
For more information about skin resurfacing, click here.
Scarring including acne scarring
Raised scars and (indented) acne scars be improved with lasers.
For more information on the treatment of keloid or hypertrophic scarring, click here.
Indented acne scars can be treated with lasers such as the carbon dioxide and erbium lasers. These laser help to stimulate new collagen production in the indented scars to help smooth the surface of the skin. There is a 1 to 2 week recovery period for treatment with these lasers.
Fraxel Re:Store treatments are also an option for acne scarring. The downtime from this treatment is less than the carbon dioxide laser/erbium laser, but usually multiple sessions are required for the best results.
For more information on the treatment of acne scars, click here.
Lumps and bumps
Lasers can also be used to treat benign skin lesions such as seborrhoiec keratosis, skin tags, and sebaceous hyperplasia.
The lasers that can be used for this purpose are able to slice fine layers off these lesions until they reach the level of the normal skin. The lasers that can achieve this are the erbium laser and the carbon dioxide laser .
The Gemini laser can also be used to heat and ablate tissue when its 532 nanometre wavelength is used. Its main target is the melanin in skin, so it is useful for targeting darker skin lesions like seborrhoiec keratosis (which look like stuck on sultanas).
Another alternative to using laser to shave back lumps and bumps is radiowave surgery.
Although they are technically ‘light treatments’ rather than a laser treatment, LED phototherapy and photodynamic therapy can help to treat active acne. They also target the bacteria that cause acne as well as helping to reduce sebaceous activity. LED phototherapy is a no-downtime treatment, whereas photodynamic therapy usually has a significant recovery period, but is more effective.
What else can be used to treat skin?
There are also other modalities of treatment that can be used to treat skin problems.
Simple treatments, such as medical grade skin care can help induce a positive change in skin, as well as help to prepare skin for future laser treatments.
Treatments such as chemical peels can also help to improve skin, although the means by which they achieve this is very different to laser.
Why choose Victorian Cosmetic Institute as your provider of laser treatments?
Because we have a large number of lasers available, we are able to tailor a treatment plan that is more specific to your skin type and skin concerns.
Our doctors and nurses have been highly trained in laser use, including laser safety.
The first step is simply contacting us for your initial laser skin rejuvenation consultation, where we will discuss with you what is a realistic and achievable outcome, and what to expect from our laser treatment.
Making that first phone call about any cosmetic procedure can be a
confronting task – many of our patients have preferred filling out our
online enquiry form. We can then contact you with an understanding of
the results you are hopeful of achieving and ensure the treatment is
It’s as easy as clicking either of the buttons below and completing the provided form.
Otherwise, you can phone us directly on 1300 863 824.