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.
Quick facts of the Medlite laser
- The Medlite laser emits extremely short pulses of laser energy at 532nm and 1064nm
- It is suited to the treatment of deep and superficial pigmentation, tattoos, skin rejuvenation, and fine hair removal.
- It can be used at a lower setting for skin rejuvenation. We call this treatment the ‘Medlite laser facial’, and it has no downtime at this level
What is the Medlite q-switched laser?
There are a number of medical lasers, each designed to target different problems. This page will discuss the Medlite q-switched laser, which has two frequencies for the treatment of skin conditions, namely, 532 nanometres (KTP), and 1064 nanometres (Nd:YAG).
The main feature of this laser is that it has extremely short pulses of high power that can be shorter than 20 nanoseconds (one nanosecond equals one billionth of a second). This allows this laser to have a photo-mechanical effect on skin pigmentation and tattoo inks or pigments, literally shattering these small particles. The remnants are then removed by the body’s immune system.
The laser light emitted also operates by the principle of selective photothermolysis, which is the attraction of particular wavelengths of the laser to be attracted to certain colours, allowing for the specific heating and targeting of a coloured target. For example, the 532nm wavelength is highly attracted to red tattoo inks. Therefore, by using the 532nm wavelength, red tattoo ink can be specifically targeted over normal skin and other colours in the skin. This helps reduce the impact of the laser on normal skin, instead letting it focus on a particular problem.
What can be treated with the Medlite q-switched laser?
The treatable problems with the Medlite laser include;
Tattoos – tattoo removal is best treated with q-switched lasers. The tiny and insoluble tattoo pigments attract the laser light, and selectively fragments the tattoo ink/pigment.
Generally several treatments are required for tattoo removal. Multi-coloured and professional tattoos are generally harder to remove than single coloured or amateur tattoos and require more treatments. 100% removal of the tattoo pigment is not always possible.
Deep and superficial skin pigmentation – q-switched lasers are the treatment of choice for pigmentation problems of the skin. They are in most cases superior than other long pulsed lasers, and IPL systems. Again it is the extremely short pulse duration of q-switched lasers that allows them to shatter pigment particles very effectively. The depth of the pigmentation will determine the laser wavelength used. For more superficial pigmentation problems such as sunspots, solar lentigos, cafe-au-lait spots, freckles it may require the 532nm q-switched KTP. Deeper pigmentation problems such as Naevus of Ota, melasma/chloasma, and Hori’s Naevus may require the 1064nm q-switched Nd:YAG.
Non-ablative skin rejuvenation including treatment of melasma – We call this treatment the ‘Medlite laser facial’. This treatment is usually performed with low energy level settings on the Medlite laser using both its wavelengths. The q-switched Nd:YAG at 1064nm has a deep penetration into the skin and causes deep dermal heating. This leads to the formation of new collagen and elastin. Several sessions are required to maximise the effect. In studies of this treatment, 3D surface topography of skin showed an improvement in skin texture, wrinkles, and acne scarring. This treatment is also helpful in the treatment of melasma (pigmentation caused by hormones). Minimal downtime is required for this treatment. The 532nm frequency is also used to help remove superficial pigmentation.
The Revlite version of the Medlite laser (Templestowe clinic only) has a PTP mode, or Photoacoustic Thermal Pulse mode, that changes the nature of the pulse delivered by the laser. It allows more heat energy to enter the skin by slightly prolonging the pulse duration of the laser. This is more effective for those who wish to achieve a degree of skin tightening with this procedure.
Hair removal – although this laser is not proven to cause permanent hair reduction, it can retard hair growth. It can work on finer hairs that other laser hair removal systems may not work on. It does not work on grey hairs.
For more information on laser hair removal click here.
What will my skin look like after treatment?
- For non-ablative skin rejuvenation (Medlite laser facial), the skin may appear mildly red for 24 to 48 hours, and can sometimes flake a little, although in most cases there is no downtime.
- For pigmentation/freckle removal, the skin may crust and appear darkened for approximately one week, and there may be significant swelling in the area treated.
- After tattoo removal, the skin may have some small pinpoint bleeding and appear white in colour. The recovery can take some time (usually 1 to 4 weeks) depending on the aggressiveness of the treatment. Dressings and antibiotic ointment may be required for a few days.
Will it hurt?
Appropriate anaesthesia can be used to numb the area prior to laser treatments only when higher energies are used, such as with tattoo removal or pigment removal. Without this anaesthesia, laser tattoo removal is said by some to be more painful than the initial tattoo application itself. If appropriate, an injection can be given to numb the area for treatment or anaesthetic creams can be used. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is also a good method of helping to reduce any discomfort from these procedures.
For lower energy treatments, anaesthesia may not be required.
What are the possible adverse outcomes of treatment?
post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation – a brown mark left on the skin after treatment that usually takes some months to fade with the assistance of lightening agents.
Hypopigmentation – loss of pigmentation in the treated area that can be permanent (rare). Prolonged redness – sometimes the redness of the skin can take a longer time to fade than expected.
Bacterial or viral infection – laser treatments can sometimes trigger herpes simplex outbreaks. Any viral or bacterial infection in a wound created by a laser has the potential for scarring.
Scarring – a very rare possibility, usually associated with darker skin types, over-zealous energy settings, and bacterial or viral infection.
Why should I choose Victorian Cosmetic Institute as my provider of Medlite q-switched laser treatments?
At Victorian Cosmetic Institute, we use the latest laser technology to perform your treatment. The Medlite Laser is an extremely safe and effective laser for the removal of pigmentation, and tattoos.
Our doctors are also highly experienced in laser treatments, and will be able to give you the best advice for your treatment.
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 your 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 appropriate.