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Rosacea and Lasers

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

There is no known cure for rosacea and the avoidance of certain trigger factors that exacerbate symptoms is the main approach to managing the condition.

However, laser beam technoloy is useful in treating manifestations of rosacea such as:

  • Dilated and prominent facial blood vessels or telengiectasia
  • Rhinophyma or deformity of the nose
  • Facial redness

Types of Laser

Some of the various forms of laser therapy that have been used to treat rosacea include:

  • Nd:YAG lasers
  • Flashlamp Pulse dye laser
  • Diode laser and KTP laser
  • Ebrium:YAG laser

Lasers are particularly useful for treating erythematotelangiectatic rosacea, a rosacea subtype characterized by widespread telengiectasia and redness. Studies have shown that laser therapy is most effective when smaller spot sizes are treated with a pulse duration of 10 to 100 ms.

Long Pulse Nd:YAG Lasers (5-60 msec)

The 1064 nm light wavelength has been used to treat patients with various blood vessel abnormalities including port wine stains and pigment disorders. However, the long pulse Nd:YAG laser (5-60 msec) has enabled the application of this wavelength to be extended to treat rosacea telangiectasia. The Nd:YAG wavelength combines a deep penetration with a pulsing that matches the natural relaxation time of vessels between pulses.

In one study, the Long pulse Nd:YAG laser (5-60 msec) was tested in 23 female patients with rosacea teleangiectatica. Results showed that all patients experienced marked improvementsin their complexion, with 13 patients having excellent clearance, 8 good clearance and 2 moderate clearance after six weeks of therapy.

Flashlamp Pulse Dye Laser

Another study used the flashlamp pulsed dye laser to treat rosacea patients, which also resulted in good or excellent reduction of the telengiectasis, along with resolution of redness. The flashlamp pulsed dye laser employs selective photothermolysis to target superficial blood vessels and coagulate them without causing any further dermal damage. The device can treat spot sizes of less than 5 mm5. The pulsed dye laser is more effective than other forms of laser but causes bruising more commonly than Nd:YAG lasers.

Ebrium:YAG Laser

This laser is suitable for treating rhinophymas or nose deformities

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy

One of the most recent therapies approved for rosacea does not employ a laser but instead uses intense pulsed light (IPL) and this has proven effective in reducing the flushing, redness and flare-ups associated with rosacea.

One study7 showed that of 32 participants who underwent IPL therapy, 75% experienced reduced flushing and improved skin structure, while 64% had a lower frequency of acneiform lesions. Furthermore, any adverse effects of the therapy were minimal and short term.

Reviewed by , BSc

Further Reading

Last Updated: Sep 22, 2013

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