- Freckles are multiple, flat spots on the skin that start at a young age and darken with sun exposure
- The Ruby and Medlite lasers are highly attracted to the melanin in freckles and can be used to remove freckles on fairer skin types.
- The Gemini laser can be used to remove freckles on asian, olive or darker skin types
- Usually one to two sessions are required, and the recovery period is usually one week
- Sunscreen pre and post treament is important to help reduce the recurrence of freckles.
What are freckles?Freckles are multiple, flat, spots on the skin due to uneven distribution of melanin (skin pigment) in those areas. They are usually around the size of a matchstick head, and are reasonably uniform in colour. They are usually situated on sun exposed areas of the skin, including the face, neck, arms and shoulders and usually darken after sun exposure. Usually, freckles start to occur at a very young age. Freckles most commonly occur in people with lighter or fairer skin types, and in those who have a genetic predisposition to developing freckles.
How do I treat freckles?A patient can try laser freckle removal. There are two lasers available for the treatment of freckles at The Victorian Cosmetic Institute, and the laser used will depend on the type of freckles. Lightening creams (such as Kligman's formula) can be used in the treatment of freckles, but usually only fade the freckles rather than removing them completely. Lasers are able to remove the freckles completely usually after one to two sessions.
One of the lasers that is used for the treatment of freckles is the Q-switched ruby laser. The ruby laser has a wavelength, 694nm, that is highly attracted to melanin. Therefore, the laser energy tends to be attracted to freckles, which are high in melanin, in preference to normal skin. The laser energy that is absorbed by the freckles tends to cause destruction of the melanin in the freckle, which leads to its removal. Furthermore, the q-switched ruby laser has extremely short pulses of laser energy, each pulse lasting only a few nanoseconds (billionths of a second). The production of high energy levels in this short period of time also has a photo-acoustic effect on the melanin in the freckles, literally shattering the pigment particles.
Another laser freckle removal treatment is the Medlite laser. The 532nm wavelength on the Medlite laser is used and this is also highly attracted to melanin. The penetration depth of the Medlite laser is not as deep as the ruby laser, and hence may not be effective on freckles that are located deeper within the skin. The advantage of using the Medlite laser for freckles is that it is much quicker than the ruby laser and may be used to treat larger areas such as freckles on the body.
The Gemini laser is also useful in the treatment of freckles/sunspots on asian, olive or darker skin types. This laser is fired through a glass window that is chilled, and this cooling helps to prevent damage to the skin. As asian, olive and darker skins tend to have more complications from lasers, this cooling does significantly help offset the risks associated with laser treamtent in this subgroup.
Video of procedure and post-laser video diary
Case Study 1This is a before and after picture of a person who has had a single ruby laser treatment for freckles. One week of recovery was required for this treatment. No make-up/foundation is worn in either photos.
Case Study 2
This female presents to The Victorian Cosmetic Institute with freckles around her cheeks, forehead, and eyes. She has had several treatments with IPL at another clinic with some result (as seen in the before photo). The after photo shows her face after 2 treatments with the Medlite laser. The recovery for each treatment took approximately one week (for most of the scabs and swelling to subside).
Case Study 3
This 37 year asian female presented with concerns about her sunspots/freckles. She had one treatment with the Gemini's 532nm wavelength. Recovery time was 7 days where the pigmentation became darker, scabbed and fell off. Note that the moles were not treated and cannot be treated by the Gemini laser.
What is involved in having laser treatment for freckles?Usually, treatment involves firstly anaesthetising the area to be treated with numbing cream. This helps to reduce the discomfort from the treatment. Nitrous oxide (commonly known as laughing gas) can also be used to help reduce the discomfort during the procedure. The appropriate laser is selected, and then systematically applied to the area to be treated. A snapping sensation is felt, as well as some heat. Immediately after the treatment, the freckles appear darker than normal, and the surrounding skin appears red and swollen. Ice packs or an air cooler are usually applied to the skin post-treatment to help reduce the amount of heat, swelling and redness.
After the treatment, the freckles get darker, and remain so until after about one to two weeks where they will scab and peel off. Facial treatments may necessitate about one week of recovery due to swelling, redness, and darkening of freckles.
Treatments are usually spaced at least one month apart, and normally one to two sessions are required, although more are required in some cases.
It is possible for freckles to return with sun exposure, so it is extremely important to wear sunscreen daily, both before and after treatment.
Why choose The Victorian Cosmetic Institute as you provider of laser treatments for freckle removal?Our doctors specialise in laser treatments and we have a number of lasers available to treat skin conditions and freckles. We are therefore able to provide you with optimal treatment for your skin, with less risks and complications.
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