Laser Treatment for Pigmented Lesions

Dr Thomas Chu has been treating pigmented lesions with nonablative selective lasers since 1994.  He is board certified by the American Academy of Dermatology and completed an American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery training fellowship.
Restore the natural beauty of your skin

Just about everyone has a few obvious brown spots on their skin. "Age spots" or "sun spots" are lentigines(freckles) and are caused by sun damage.   Along with some birthmarks that are darker than your normal skin are generally referred to as pigmented lesions. Although some pigmented lesions can be ignored, many are quite conspicuous, and can easily detract from your skin's natural beauty.

What causes these unwanted pigmented lesions? Melanin is what gives our skin its color. The amount of melanin in your skin determines if you have a light or dark completion. Pigmented lesions are dark in color simply because the melanin is abnormally concentrated in one area of the skin. High concentrations of melanin can be due to various factors. Some types are present at birth, but most occur with age, or as a result of overexposure to the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays.

How does the Picosure laser remove unwanted pigments in the skin?
The Picosure laser is the most technologically advanced lasers for removing pigmented lesions.The laser removes these pigments with the energy of light. The specialized light produced by the Picosure laser is absorbed by the pigmented lesion. The unwanted pigment is then destroyed, thus removing or lightening the lesion.

What types of brown spots or pigmented lesions will the Picosure remove?
The Picosure laser is the most effective treatment for removing brown age spots, "liver spots", freckles and other brown birthmarks, such as cafe-au-lait spots and Nevus of Ota. Dr Chu will identify your specific type of lesion and discuss the removal success rate associated with your condition.

Does the Picosure laser remove my normal skin pigmentation also?
No, the laser light of the Picosure was specifically designed to effectively target the dark concentrations of melanin. After the abnormal amounts of melanin are removed, and treatment continues on normal skin to ensure the entire lesion is removed, some whitening could occur. However, your body's natural regenerative system would replace the normal melanin over a few weeks, returning the skin to its natural color.

Is the process painful?
No.  Dr. Chu will apply a topical anesthetic to the area of skin & allow time for it to take effect.  During the procedure a cooling unit will be used to make the process more comfortable. The Picosure laser emits light in very short pulses, 100 times faster than Q switched lasers like the Medlite. The impact of the energy from the power pulse of light is similar to the snap of a thin rubber band. After the treatment, the area will feel similar to a light sunburn. Typically any discomfort will disappear by the next day. After the redness clears, the skin returns to its natural color and texture.

How many treatment sessions will it take to remove the pigmented lesion?
Using the Picosure laser most common pigmented lesions are usually removed with one treatment. Some deeper lesions will require an additional treatment.

Can the excess pigmentation come back?
Common pigmented lesions do not return though it is important to realize that chronically sun damaged skin will produce new "sun spots' over a lifetime.  Some birthmarks may return after a period of several months to a year. However, the procedure can be repeated.

What type of post treatment care is necessary?
Usually, an  ointment and a dressing will be applied to the area immediately after treatment. The treated area should be kept clean with a continued application of the ointment. A shower can be taken the next day, although the treated area should not be scrubbed. 

How is the Picosure different than other devices used to treat pigmented lesions?

Many offices, spas, and salons use nonselective lasers or devices such as IPL(intense pulsed light) to treat pigmented lesions.  These devices are generally unreliable due to their lack of specificity.  Some offices offer older selective pigmented lesion lasers such as Q switched lasers(Medlite) which may require multiple treatments to fade the lesion and require much longer healing times.  The Picosure laser emits its wavelength of energy 100 times faster than these older lasers so the lesions are removed in fewer treatments, healing time is greatly reduced and the time required to return to a uniform skin color following treatment is shortened significantly.