- Laser treatments for rosacea are a safe and effective method of treating visible rosacea symptoms.
- Laser treatments address symptoms like redness, thickened skin and visible blood vessels.
- Treatment options include erbium YAG lasers, pulsed-dye lasers and CO2 lasers.
- Results of laser treatment for rosacea can last as long as three to five years.
Laser treatments for rosacea are an effective, safe method of addressing rosacea symptoms like red, thickened skin and visible blood vessels. Laser treatments are generally considered safe and can be used in combination with other treatment methods to control rosacea symptoms.
What Is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a common and chronic condition of the skin on the face that causes symptoms like reddened skin, bumps, pustules, inflammation and a burning sensation. The condition is incurable, and symptoms must be managed via medications, topical ointments, lifestyle changes and cosmetic procedures like laser treatments.
The exact causes of rosacea are not understood well, but certain factors like genetics, environment, food and drink, demodex folliculorum mites, dilated blood vessels and immune system conditions have been linked to the condition.
People with rosacea may experience a symptom flare-up when they come in contact with common rosacea triggers. Some of these triggers include spicy foods, alcohol, processed or fried foods, hot beverages, hot baths, environmental factors, emotional stress or irritating ingredients in some cosmetics.
Can Laser Treatments Get Rid of Rosacea?
Sometimes, laser treatments for rosacea are used to help reduce the appearance of thickened, red skin and dilated blood vessels on the face. Laser treatments can be used to remove thickened tissue on the nose in patients with rhinophyma, restoring its natural shape.
While laser treatments can reduce visible signs associated with rosacea, the condition is chronic and can’t be cured. Laser treatments can help rejuvenate and restore the skin to a healthier-looking appearance.
Generally, laser skin resurfacing treatments heat the skin, remove damaged skin cells from the outermost layer, and encourage new skin cell growth and the production of collagen. For many people, it takes multiple treatments before significant results are visible. Results can last as long as three to five years.
How effective are they?
Laser treatments for rosacea have been clinically proven to significantly improve the appearance of rosacea symptoms like redness and thickened skin. Some patients who undergo laser treatment see as much as a 50 to 75 percent reduction in their rosacea symptoms.
Rosacea treatment with laser therapy is generally considered to be safe.
The downside of laser treatments for rosacea is that they can’t prevent new blood vessels from forming and dilating beneath the skin. Over time, the treatments might need to be repeated especially if your symptoms return.
Best Laser Treatment for Rosacea
Laser treatment for rosacea can be accomplished in several different ways. There are multiple forms of laser therapy that work to reduce redness and other visible rosacea symptoms.
An erbium yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) laser treatment addresses blood vessels that are visible just beneath the skin’s surface. This type of laser can also help to remove abnormal tissue growth on the nose, a result of rhinophyma, and restore its natural shape.
Pulsed-dye laser treatment for rosacea involves pulsing laser light that penetrates the outer layer of skin to address blood vessels that are visible beneath the surface. The color of the laser light is changed with dye. Treatments help to reduce skin redness.
CO2 lasers are used to remove thickened skin and excess tissue from the face. These ablative laser treatments–which remove the outer layer of skin by vaporizing damaged skin cells–can reshape the nose and remove abnormal enlargement caused by rhinophyma.
What to Expect During Treatment
Before your treatment, see your doctor for a routine physical exam. Make sure to discuss your medical history and whether you might be a good candidate for laser treatment for rosacea.
When your doctor has cleared you for laser treatment, your provider will recommend a skin care regimen to help you prepare for your procedure. Sometimes these preparation periods can last for up to six weeks.
You might need to take a prescription antibiotic to prevent infection. Your provider may also prescribe antiviral medication if you’re prone to cold sores. Laser treatments can trigger a cold sore flare.
When you go to your appointment, your provider will thoroughly cleanse your skin and give you protective eyewear. The lasers used during laser treatment for rosacea can damage your eyes.
After you’ve been prepped, your provider will numb your skin using a local anesthetic. You may be given a sedative, particularly if you’re undergoing an ablative laser treatment like CO2.
While you’re receiving treatment, your provider will move the laser slowly over the treatment area. The procedure can last anywhere from half an hour to two hours.
Afterward, your provider will apply ointment and dressing to your skin. They may also prescribe a medication for pain.
Since laser treatments are outpatient, you’ll be able to go home afterward. If you’ve been sedated, you’ll need someone to drive you.
It can take a week or two to fully recover from laser treatment for rosacea, depending on what type of treatment you receive. Ablative laser treatment with a CO2 laser, for example, involves a longer recovery than other types of treatments.
You may reduce discomfort after your treatment by washing your face with a gentle cleanser. Your provider may recommend that you apply antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly to help control dryness, tightness, and itching. Use products that moisturize and protect the skin during your recovery.
Side Effects of Laser Treatments for Rosacea
Laser treatments for rosacea have some side effects, which are typically mild and disappear within a few weeks of treatment. The most common side effect is heightened facial redness immediately after the procedure, which fades in a few days but could last as long as two weeks.
Other common side effects include itching, swelling, peeling, a feeling of tightness, changes in skin color, a stinging sensation or a mild rash. Your skin may feel like it has been sunburned. If you have ablative laser treatment with a CO2 laser, you may experience oozing or blistering.
In some cases, laser treatments can cause burns and scarring. If you suspect your skin may have been burned during laser treatment, see your provider as soon as possible.
Laser treatment for rosacea can be costly, especially if you require repeated procedures. Treatments cost between $500 and $700 per session. Costs depend on your provider’s fees, location, and how severe your symptoms are.
Does insurance cover laser treatments for rosacea?
While many medications and treatments for rosacea are covered by insurance, laser treatments usually are not. Laser treatment is usually considered elective, cosmetic surgery and usually must be paid out of pocket.
Most insurance plans don’t cover cosmetic treatments, but your provider may offer financing options to help you cover costs.
Other Rosacea Treatments
If you and your provider determine that laser treatments for rosacea aren’t right for you, there are other treatments that may be more appropriate. Your provider will prescribe a regimen that is tailored to your unique combination of rosacea symptoms.
Intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment for rosacea is one alternative to laser treatments. IPL sends waves of scattered light across the surface of your skin. The light penetrates the skin’s outer layer and treats the deeper layers.
IPL treatments heat the water that is naturally held within the skin, helping the body to shed skin cells that are damaged. IPL can reduce the appearance of blood vessels beneath the skin.
Antibiotics like tetracycline and doxycycline are common treatments for rosacea. They’re generally prescribed for periods of three months or longer. Long-term antibiotics are sometimes given at a low dose to manage symptoms of rosacea.
Topical ointments and creams like oxymetazoline hydrochloride, metronidazole, brimonidine tartrate and azelaic acid can help to manage rosacea symptoms. Some creams and ointments help constrict the blood vessels beneath the skin’s surface; others reduce swelling and inflammation.
Some people with rosacea may prefer to try natural remedies, particularly if their symptoms are mild. Common natural rosacea remedies include niacinamide, green tea, tea tree oil, aloe vera, chamomile, turmeric and lavender.
Use caution before you apply anything to your rosacea-prone skin. It’s possible that even natural products can trigger worse symptoms.
Because of their cost and invasiveness in comparison to other approaches, laser treatments usually aren’t the first course of treatment. Many people who turn to laser treatments for rosacea have exhausted other options first.
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