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Rosacea laser treatment is a dermatological procedure that uses a laser to reduce the symptoms of rosacea. The laser is generally used on the face, and an intense pulsed light laser is most often used. Rosacea laser treatment has been used since the 1980s, and it is effective for many patients.
Rosacea is a skin affliction characterized by redness, flushing, and outbreaks of acne-like bumps. If left untreated, it can advance to the eyes, cause thickening of the skin, and disfigure the nose. The cause of rosacea is not well-known, and there is no cure. The disease is controlled by environmental and dietary changes, and rosacea laser treatment may be used to treat symptoms for some people.
In skin with rosacea, persistent redness and flushing is thought to be caused by inflammation in the capillaries and veins just under the skin's surface. This inflammation creates small bumps with or without pus. The bumps are not the same as acne because there is no bacteria creating the inflammation and pimples. Over time, surface capillaries can become visible, appearing as small red stripes or spider veins. Often these marks appear after other rosacea treatments have been successful because the reduced redness of the skin makes them more apparent. Rosacea laser treatment removes these capillaries or significantly reduces their visibility.
To treat the inflamed capillaries, the dermatologist runs an intense pulsed light laser over the surface of the face. The laser is not intense enough to actually burn the skin. Instead, heat from the laser's light energy builds up in the capillaries and destroys them. In patients whose skin has begun to thicken, or whose nose has become disfigured, a stronger carbon dioxide laser is used instead to remove the damaged layers of skin. In some of these cases, dermabrasion might also be used, or the excess skin might be cut away with a scalpel.
Rosacea laser treatment is relatively painless, and rarely even requires a topical analgesic. It is an outpatient procedure that can be completed within an hour. Redness, swelling and bruising are common after the procedure, but these don't usually last more than a few days. In most cases, several treatment are required for successful results. For most patients, the visible capillaries are not only reduced, but redness and bumps also go away. Permanence of the procedure depends on the patient carefully avoiding his personal dietary or environmental rosacea triggers.