- There are specific lasers designed to treat facial redness and spider veins
- There are three types of vascular lasers for treating rosacea and redness
- What is the difference between excel® V and the VBeam®?
- Be careful with Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) for rosacea treatments
- Some lasers resurface skin, which is best for phymatous rosacea
- To conclude: effective rosacea laser treatments use the best tools for the job
If you have facial redness, chances are you’ve been to a doctor, or tried over-the-counter products for rosacea. While prescriptions and skin care can be paramount to treating this condition, sometimes, they’re not enough. For example, spider veins, flushing and thickening skin on the nose will rarely go away without some added intervention. That’s where redness and rosacea laser treatments come into play.
We operate in Surrey, near Vancouver, and patients come to us from around the Lower Mainland for several skin conditions. People may wonder why it’s important to choose only the best rosacea laser treatments in Vancouver. Below, we’ll explain how these treatments work, for the sake of educating our audience (learning is fun!). Though we will say that ultimately, a medical practitioner should be deciding the right laser treatment for your rosacea, which can differ from someone else’s.
There are specific lasers designed to treat facial redness and spider veins
Before you get sold on just any laser that claims to do the job of a laser facial for rosacea, you should know that specific lasers perform specific jobs. Lasers use wavelengths of light that can reach different areas of the skin. Their energy is also absorbed by different colours (remember, all colours absorb light).
So for example, when using a laser hair removal machine, it’s important that the laser can reach the level of skin where hair follicles are. It’s also important that dark tones absorb the light energy traveling to that region.
Now, rosacea spider veins (i.e. telangiectasia) and facial redness or flushing (i.e. erythema) are often caused by broken or enlarged capillaries (i.e. blood vessels). And of course, we see that as the colour red on our skin.
So, like the logic of using the right laser to remove hair, it follows that when using a laser to treat rosacea, it’s important that the laser reaches the layer of skin where the broken capillaries are. And, the red tones (i.e. hemoglobin) must be able to absorb that light energy.
The purpose of laser energy is to emit heat that can destroy something in your skin. It could be hair, excess melanin, old tissues, or otherwise. The goal with rosacea laser treatments is to destroy ‘trapped’ blood vessels without damaging skin. Once the blood vessels are destroyed, the body can get rid of them naturally, internally.
There are three types of vascular lasers for treating rosacea and redness
Enter: vascular lasers. There are three main lasers used in this arena of treating facial redness. They are:
- The 532 nm potassium titanyl phosphate (KTP) laser (also an ND:Yag laser)
- The 595 nm Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL)
- The 1064 nm, long-pulsed, neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet (ND:Yag) laser
It used to be that the VBeam®, a PDL laser, was the so-called ‘gold standard’ for treating skin redness. However, that technology has long since been taken over by the excel® V. The latter is actually two lasers in one: the 532 nm KTP and the 1064 nm, long-pulsed ND:Yag. The VBeam® is still around and doing its job. It’s just more limited than the excel® V these days.
To clear up some confusion, we should also mention that some sources on the web will talk about Laser Genesis™ for treating redness. This is essentially a procedure on the ND:Yag laser that comes with the excel® V.
What is the difference between excel® V and the VBeam®?
There are a few reasons that practitioners may prefer using the excel® V over the VBeam®:
The excel® V is slightly more effective
To start, the 532 nm in the excel® V was shown to be slightly more effective when it came to results on spider veins (i.e. telangiectasia). That said, the VBeam® still does sufficiently well for surface-level spider veins, in comparison studies.
The excel® V can treat different types of vascular lesions
The 1064 nm wavelength on this machine can also reach deeply-located vascular lesions. This is important since some of the red veins showing through on the skin won’t be touched by the 532 nm or 595 nm wavelengths.
By providing the 1064 nm wavelength on the same machine as the shorter wavelengths, a practitioner can do a more comprehensive treatment in a single session.
The excel® V can treat darker skin tones with fewer chances of pigmentation side effects
The other benefit to using the 1064 nm wavelength for rosacea laser treatments in Vancouver, is that it can treat darker skin tones more safely.
With dark skin tones, it is crucial not to cause trauma to the surface of the skin. Doing so can cause long-term hyperpigmentation (i.e. skin darkening). This is also true of seemingly lighter-toned skin, as long as it tans easily in the sun.
This is why laser treatments are often tricky to do on people of colour. On the one hand, the heat needs to be high enough to destroy what it needs to destroy. On the other hand, it can’t burn skin while doing so. The machine specifications need to be just right.
But if a laser can bypass the top layer of the dermis, to reach the lower layers only, there is a far lesser chance of side effects happening. That’s where the longer wavelengths become useful. Still, it requires skill to prevent this issue. When it comes to any laser treatments, it’s extra important to only see a trained practitioner if you tan, rather than burn in the sun.
The excel® V cools the skin more efficiently
Next, there is the cooling mechanism. Most laser treatments require immediate cooling of the skin as soon as it is ‘zapped’ by light energy. Cooling avoids the side effect of burned skin during laser procedures, which we don’t want (of course).
The VBeam® uses cryogen spray to cool the skin while it targets redness. This is a perfectly fine solution, but one that is reliant on the practitioner aiming the spray correctly (which is not that hard to do).
However, the sapphire cooling tip on the excel® V allows for cooling-on-the-fly, on the exact spot that the laser is pulsing on. It can also cool before and after pulses too.
The excel® V functions faster
Finally, there are some ‘perks’ to the excel® V that allows it to switch between settings faster than the VBeam®. It also warms up 20x faster. This makes it faster to use, which means treatment times can go faster too.
Be careful with Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) for rosacea treatments
There is another light-based treatment used for rosacea, called Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). It is similar to lasers when it comes to its application. However, it is inherently different. IPL is not a laser. It delivers multiple wavelengths of light with each pulse.
This broadband spectrum of light can make IPL far less effective than a laser, since not all the wavelengths produced in each pulse will have an effect on the target problem. Or worse, side effects can ensue, since wavelengths are not targeting the exact problem. They could be heating up surrounding tissues unnecessarily.
Those with darker skin tones should especially avoid IPL treatments.
Some lasers resurface skin, which is best for phymatous rosacea
The other types of lasers that can treat rosacea are called “ablative lasers”, or “skin resurfacing lasers.” These are special lasers that only highly experienced professionals use. They can cause a lot of damage, if not used properly. It’s unlikely you’ll find them in anything but medically-run clinics.
The reason you would need an ablative laser to treat rosacea, is if one of your symptoms is thickening skin around the nose. This is called phymatous rosacea. Essentially, that skin needs to be removed, if you want the condition to improve. Thankfully, you don’t need surgery to remove it; lasers can do the job without cutting the skin.
We’ve written extensively about skin resurfacing lasers in the following articles on our website:
Rosacea laser treatments in Vancouver are just the beginning
You should be aware that laser treatments for redness or rosacea are not a ‘one and done’ solution. It’s possible that broken capillaries and thickening skin will return, eventually. For some people these conditions can take a few years to come back.
It will be important to maintain a doctor-recommended skin care routine before and after your rosacea laser treatments in Vancouver. It will also be necessary to avoid rosacea triggers, and anything that can make blood vessels dilate and break again. This can happen from extreme hot or cold, over-exfoliating, or even popping pimples.
Getting rid of rosacea is always going to require a multi-pronged approach. At the heart of the issue is a skin condition with a little-understood cause. So, until science catches up with this one, you’ll probably be battling it for years to come.
To conclude: effective rosacea laser treatments use the best tools for the job
As we’ve seen above, rosacea laser treatments in Vancouver can come in the form of vascular lasers or ablative lasers.
Vascular lasers are used for treating telangiectasia and erythema (i.e. spider veins and flushing). They include the 532 nm KTP laser, the 595 nm PDL laser or the 1064 nm ND:Yag laser. The 532 nm KTP and 1064 nm ND:Yag come in the excel® V, which is the latest technology for treating facial redness and rosacea. The 595 nm PDL is found in the VBeam®, which is still used today, despite being a little older, and slower, than the excel® V.
Ablative lasers resurface the skin, and are used for phymatous rosacea, which is the thickening of the skin around the nose.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments are also marketed for treating rosacea and redness. However, they can be less effective, and more prone to side effects.
Rosacea is a long-term skin condition that doctors and scientists don’t know the root cause of. Since it will likely persist, you will also likely need multiple treatments to get rid of your rosacea symptoms. This will include both laser and topical or prescription treatments.