Nd:Yag laser is one of the most commonly talked about lasers, especially in our part of the world where pigmentary disorders are rampant. We read about it on the news, magazines, facebook and probably hear about this from friends and relatives. Many equate lasers with red swollen face, probably watery as well. This may repulse people from even considering lasers for their woes. Lets examine what Nd:Yag laser is about….
What is Q-switched Nd:Yag laser?
Laser is basically a type of light that carries only a specific wavelength, as opposed to visible light that carries a range of wavelength. Laser waves are parallel to each other and all waves move temporally in the same phase. Visible lights are not parallel and does not move temporally in the same phase. There are many lasers available in the market. Nd:Yag laser is named after the laser medium:
It comes in 2 wavelengths, 1064 nm and 532 nm, and is a non-ablative laser. This means that there is no break in skin tissue continuity during the treatment. It is designed to target pigment cells. This
specific wavelength are absorbed preferentially by pigments (melanin), and the resultant heat will cause generation and propagation of waves that cause damage to the cells containing pigment. These damaged cells will then be cleared from the site resulting in lightening of the pigmented site.
When do we use Q-switched Nd:Yag laser?
Q-switched Nd:Yag laser are used mainly for pigmentary disorders resulting in darker patch/lesions. It can target both superficial and deeper skin pigmentation. However, not all lesions have good results with Q-switched Nd:Yag laser. Some pigmentary disorders work very well with Nd:Yag laser, e.g. solar lentigo, freckles, and lentigines, while some produce variable results, i.e. Hori’s nevus and melasma. It is important to get the correct diagnosis at the start to ensure careful selection of treatment modalities. Of course, the machine as well as the operator (the technician performing the laser) are also key to the results of the treatment.
Another major indication of Q-switched Nd:Yag laser is for tattoo removal, and are considered by dermatologists to be the most effective, safe and reliable way to remove multi-coloured tattoos.
Apart from this, Q-switched Nd:Yag also produces a rejuvenation effect, and provides lightening of the skin which is very much favoured by Asians.
How is the laser procedure?
Most of the patients are tolerable to the discomfort cause by the laser. Hence, there is usually no need for anaesthetic creams for this procedure.
Firstly, the skin is cleansed, eyes covered by protective googles followed by the laser therapy. You will expect mild discomfort/pain which is usually tolerable. The whole procedure will take about 15-30 minutes.
After the procedure, you may experience redness over the treated site which may last few hours. Most of the time, there is no swelling and most patients can return to work almost immediately.
Immediately post laser, you may or may not see lightening of the pigmentation. In fact, the pigmented spot may even darken for 1-2 weeks before getting lighter. However, the skin lightening and rejuvenation may be seen immediately post-laser. Do not expect a dramatic result.
Is it a one-off treatment?
Most of the time, one treatment does not yield adequate results. Depending on the diagnosis, the number of treatment needed is variable. Repeat treatment is often scheduled 4-6 weeks later.
What are the potential complications of Q-switched Nd:Yag laser?
Every treatment comes with its own list of potential complications. The rate of complications may be lessened with good a laser operator and good laser machines. There may be temporary pigmentary changes i.e. darker or lighter than normal. Occasionally the lighter than normal spot may be permanent. Risk of scarring is low with pigmentary disorders and tends to be higher with tattoo treatment. Other potential complications include partial removal of the tattoo, infection, change of colour (especially with tattoos) and textural changes. Tattoo removal may sometimes even cause allergic reaction.
At SkinFusion, all operators have had extensive training with Lynton, the manufacturer of the Lumina Laser & IPL System we use. Lynton is the UK's No.1 Laser & IPL Manufacturer, and have been providing exceptional, medically graded systems for over 20 years. The Lumina system we use here at SkinFusion is used by NHS hospitals throughout the UK.
IPL - Intense Pulsed Light
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) has been around for many years now (since the 1990’s) and was brought out as an alternative to lasers. Using different settings, they can be used to treat many things, but we mainly use them here at SkinFusion for vessels, pigmentation, overall sun-damage, acne, fine wrinkles, hair removal, and vascular lesions.
They also have the added advantage of being able to stimulate collagen. Collagen is a substance that is naturally produced by the body. However, the production of this substance diminishes as people grow older. The results of the low production include wrinkles, thinning skin and brittle hair among others.
What is IPL?
Similar to a laser, they produce light which is absorbed by certain chromophores (colour) in the skin. This then rapidly heats the target (blood vessels and melanin) to help reduce the concern.
How is it different to laser?
IPL stands for intense pulsed light. They are similar to laser in that they produce light which can then be used to treat various conditions. The difference is in the way they are made. They both have a light source, but IPL systems use filters which absorb light that you don’t want to use, where as lasers pass through mediums such as a gas dye or solid.
Are lasers better than IPL?
This is a common question that many people ask and the answer will vary depending on what is being treated. Some things are better treated with IPL and some with lasers. We are lucky here to have the resources to offer both.
I have had IPL before and it didn’t work?
Another common phrase we hear. It really can depend, we believe that there are so many more IPL systems out there compared to laser, and therefore there is bound to be more negative press. All machines vary in strength, so there are some weak IPL’s out there and some strong ones, as is the same with laser. You also have to consider the operator, their capabilities and training background. We only use a medical grade IPL system, which is also used in the NHS and Dermatology departments throughout the UK.
When would I have IPL?
IPL is excellent at treating; redness, rosacea, red veins, freckles, sunspots, acne, and mild collagen stimulation. Our system has the advantage of being able to treat a few of those symptoms is one go, for example, with vascular treatments, the goal is to destroy blood vessels in the inner layers of the skin by heating them to 70 degrees centigrade. Although the blood vessels are targeted, the light energy is also absorbed by other structures in the skin such as melanin (pigment for hair and skin), and water.