April is Rosacea month. Before summer arrives in full swing, many people seek out treatments for unsightly skin conditions – rosacea is among them. While there is no single cause of the condition, most experts believe that it is caused by an abnormal inflammatory response, with underlying blood vessels in the face that are either too close to the surface, or that dilate too readily, causing flushing and redness. Whatever the cause, the disorder generally causes pimples, burning, itching, swelling, and even chronic eye irritation.
Vascular Laser Treatments
There are prescription medications available than can reduce the visibility and frequency of rosacea flare ups. However, these medications are best at treating pimples and the other symptoms of rosacea including burning, itching, and eye irritation. Unfortunately, they often do little to help with redness and flushing and do nothing to reduce the spider veins in the face. The good news is that it’s possible to reduce the visibility of these problems as well. Not by medication, but by treatment with a vascular laser – a V-beam laser treatment. The focused pulses of light will break down the structure of the veins without damaging nearby tissue. While there will be some temporary swelling and redness caused by the laser itself, the long-term effect is a significant reduction in redness, flushing, and vein visibility.
The wavelength of the V-beam laser specifically targets red blood cells while sparing the rest of the skin. By focusing only on the problematic blood vessels, the short pulses of the v-beam laser can treat redness without compromising healthy tissue. There is also a cooling spray that is emitted by the laser which protects and cools the surface of the skin while the laser beam selectively heats and destroys the underlying blood vessels. This makes the laser very safe for most skin types with extremely minimal risk for scarring.
Rosacea Treatment and Recovery
A significant part of any laser treatment is proper recovery. In the case of rosacea, this includes icing the skin, possible topical steroid medication, and use of sunscreen after the procedure. The laser usually causes swelling that may last up to 4 days and redness that may last up to a week. Sleeping with your head elevated on a couple of pillows at night may also help with the initial swelling. Occasionally, with larger blood vessels that require more aggressive treatment, the laser may cause bruises which usually last 7-10 days but may be covered with make-up. Most patients compare the sensations after treatment to having a mild sunburn; as your skin heals, you’ll want to avoid direct sun exposure for a week and use gentle products on the skin. Vascular lasers have incredibly low rates of scarring, especially when combined with the right aftercare. Rosacea has a number of triggers, including many lifestyle and environmental factors. As a part of your treatment, we can work to identify the things that cause your flare ups so that you might avoid them.
Just about everyone is a candidate for V-beam laser treatment. You cannot be tan when you receive the procedure. The laser works best on superficial spider veins, often obliterating them after just two treatments, one month apart. Background redness and flushing, which is caused by deeper blood vessels, is harder to get rid of. However, the V-beam laser often reduces this by at least 50% after just two treatments. The more treatments you do, the more improvement you will see.
Over time, the redness and broken blood vessels will recur. Dr. Chiu will help you come up with the best maintenance plan to delay this from happening for as long as possible after your V-beam treatment. Typically, patients may need V-beam touch-ups every 1.5 to 2 years.
If you have any questions about rosacea, please don’t hesitate to contact us. The V-beam laser is but one of many treatment options available. If you’d like to discuss rosacea or any other skin condition, or any of the methods we employ to treat them, feel free to make an appointment. It’s our job to make everyone comfortable in their own skin – let us help you!