More people are turning to lasers and other light therapies to help tame hard-to-treat rosacea. Besides reducing redness and flushing, these treatments can help erase visible blood vessels. They work by delivering heat that destroys the tiny blood vessels under the skin that create redness.
There are several types of laser and light therapies on the market to treat rosacea. Here's a look at what's out there.
A pulsed dye laser (PDL) has been around for years to treat redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels.
Intense pulsed light (IPL)is newer. It uses light without lasers to treat the signs of rosacea. Several products use this technology.
A newer treatment called photopneumatic therapy (PPx) combines broadband light and vacuum suction. In a small study in the Annals of Dermatology, PPx was shown to be safe and effective for people with a certain type of rosacea. After three to five treatments, 64 percent of patients saw their symptoms improve by 50 percent.
Laser and light therapy is performed at a dermatologist's office. You'll want to pick an office or "medi-spa" where light therapy is performed by a dermatologist with experience and training in using lasers and light therapy. Most people need several sessions a year, spaced a few weeks or months apart. Tip: If you choose to have these treatments, your results may last longer if you limit your sun exposure.
Some people with rosacea develop a thick, bumpy skin on the nose. Lasers have been used for years to treat this thickening, called rhinophyma. Today's lasers, however, can improve the skin's appearance with little scarring or damage to the nose. Newer ones include the CO2 laser and the erbium:YAG laser.
Is It Right for Me?
Some therapies, like IPL, may cause temporary bruising after treatment. Other possible side effects include skin lightening, redness, and swelling.
Unfortunately, laser and light therapies aren't right for everyone. People with type 1 diabetes, a clotting disorder, or a tendency to form keloid scars on the skin aren't good candidates. And if you have a suntan or are pregnant, you may need to postpone treatment.
While laser and light therapies may sound promising, they do have a major drawback—their cost. Treatment ranges from $300 to $700 each visit, and insurance usually doesn't cover it.
Still interested? To learn more about laser and light therapies, talk with a physician who has experience using these treatments.