The Candela ATV laser is designed to treat superficial brown blemishes and is also effective in removing other brown marks like café au lait patches, Nevus of Ito, Nevus of Ota, freckles and flat pigmented moles. A few kinds of pigmentation (in particular melasma) do not improve in response to any form of laser treatment.
Melanin is what gives our skin its color. Pigmented lesions are dark in color simply because melanin is abnormally concentrated in one area of the skin. High concentrations of melanin can be due to various factors. Some types are present at birth, but most occur with age or as a result of overexposure to the sun’s damaging rays.
Lentigines or age spots are premature ageing brown marks, which appear on the backs of hands and the face. Sunburn freckles are the result of sun damage and occur on the back, upper chest and shoulders. Most are harmless but all are ageing and may be unattractive. Cafe au lait, Nevus of Ota, Mongolian spots and other flat pigmented birthmarks are localized areas of increased pigmentation in the skin, which are present at birth. Although most brown spots are easily ignored, many are quite conspicuous and can detract from your skin’s natural beauty.
Most brown birthmarks will fade with treatment but some recur. These may require additional treatment to keep pigmentation at bay. Brown age spots often fade or disappear with a single treatment. Thanks to the Candela ATV laser, you (usually) don’t have to live with unwanted freckles, age spots, or pigmented lesions for the rest of your life. Dr. Kevin Smith is helping people of all ages fade and eliminate marks that, for a variety of reasons, they no longer want on their bodies. “This laser will allow us to safely help patients look and feel better.”
“Since my laser treatment I am no longer self-conscious about the spots on my hand….my skin is now perfectly clear.”
What types of brown spots or pigmented lesions will the Candela ATV remove? The Candela ATV is most commonly used for removing brown age spots, “liver spots”, freckles and many brown birthmarks. Dr. Smith will identify your specific type of lesion and explain what can be done to help you look and feel better. We do not use lasers for treating cancers or suspected cancers. If in doubt, Dr. Smith will biopsy any suspicious spots to make sure there is no skin cancer.
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The fees for laser treatment of freckles and age spots starts at $175 per treatment, and increase depending on the amount of time needed. Dr. Smith can give you a price quote after he has examined your freckles and age spots.
How long are treatments? Depending on the size and numbers of freckles and age spots, treatments usually range from 15 to 45 minutes.
Energy from the Candela ATV laser is very well absorbed by cells containing excessive concentrations of pigment – and not well absorbed by normal tissue – so the Candela ATV stimulates your body to eliminate the unwanted excessive pigment while having little or no effect on other tissues or on normal skin color.
If the area to be treated has a fresh sun tan or has been treated with self-tanning lotion, it is best to wait a couple of weeks for the tan to fade before having treatment, because the tan will absorb and waste some of the laser energy intended for the pigmented lesion. A fresh sun tan (or color from a recent application of self-tanning lotion) could also absorb enough laser energy to increase the risk of skin irritation or blistering.
Most people find that Candela ATV laser of pigmented blemishes is not particularly painful – each pulse of laser light is similar to the snap of a thin rubber band, or tiny specks of hot bacon grease on the skin. There may be less discomfort if a second treatment is needed, because as the freckles and age spots fade there is less pigment to absorb laser energy.
Most patients do not require anesthesia, but ice packs, anesthetic creams or local anesthetic can be used if necessary. If there is a large or sensitive area to be treated, a couple of plain Tylenol can be taken to raise your pain threshold somewhat before laser treatment. No other special preparation is needed. The high power of the Candela ATV allows large diameter, deeply penetrating laser beams to be used, and will help to speed up the resolution of your pigmented lesions.
For the first half-hour after laser treatment the treated area looks pale or white, and may swell slightly. The treated area may feel hot (like a sunburn) for a while after laser treatment, and it might be red and swollen for the rest of the day. The brown spots may become darker within a day, then will fade over about 7 to 14 days.
Occasionally (depending on the severity of your sun damage) the treated area may remain somewhat pink for two to four weeks, and there may be some flaking during this time. This is a normal process as the body works to eliminate the pigmented blemishes.
There may be some lightening or darkening of the treated for several months after laser treatment. This is usually not very obvious. Protect the treated area from sun exposure until the skin is completely healed and the skin color has returned to normal.
Gentle cleansing of the skin and application of an antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin ointment will help the treated area heal quickly after treatment. Watch for unusual redness, pain, or swelling which might be a sign of infection, and please call us right away if you think an infection is developing. Avoid picking at or irritating the skin after treatment.
About 60%-80% of common freckles and age spots resolve after one treatment. Some need a second treatment, and a few need to be treated more than twice. Some blemishes do not disappear completely, but will be significantly lighter in color after treatment.
When Dr. Smith examines your freckles and age spots, he will be able to give you an estimate of the number of treatments which will be necessary to fade or remove them. Because there is a great deal of variability in the size, depth and darkness of freckles, age spots and pigmented nevi, and because there is some variability in people’s natural ability to clear away pigment after laser treatment, it is not possible to “promise” you that a certain result will happen after a fixed number of treatments. Dr. Smith will explain what is likely to happen, but he cannot precisely predict or guarantee what will happen in any particular case. Dr. Smith will show you photos illustrating the range of results, from fading through to complete disappearance of the pigmented lesions.
How well your lesions respond depends on several factors. Superficial lesions such as freckles and age spots tend to respond more quickly as compared to deeper, more complex lesions such as the nevus of Ota shown below.
Laser treatment will not prevent the development of new pigmented blemishes. You can reduce the rate at which new pigmented blemishes appear by using sunscreen and by protecting your skin from the sun.
It is best to wait at least 8 weeks between treatments so that the maximum amount of fading can take place.
In many cases the freckles and age spots can be made to disappear or fade to the point where you are the only person who can find a trace of them, because you know where to look.
In most cases, the laser treatment leads to satisfactory fading or complete removal of the freckles and age spots without significant side effects.
The most common problem is incomplete removal of brown spots or pigmented nevi. Some spots are relatively resistant, although there is almost always a worthwhile amount of improvement.
Scarring is very rare. Infection is also very rare. Loss of pigment from normal skin is rare and usually minimal.
You can reduce the chance of irregular tanning – and reduce the chance that the freckles and age spots will come back — by protecting the treated area from sun exposure.
Hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin) or hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) are quite infrequent, and are almost always temporary.
Laser treatment of freckles, age spots and pigmented lesions is not covered by insurance, but may be covered if your employer offers a “Health Spending Account”.
If you want to get rid of freckles and age spots, now is the time to take advantage of this new breakthrough in laser technology. At the Niagara Falls Dermatology and Skin Care Centre, we can help. Thanks to specialized laser technology, we can safely fade your freckles and age spots so there is little or no trace left.
Our staff can take the time to discuss your wishes and options, and answer your questions. No referral is required.
Niagara Falls Dermatology & Skin Care Centre Limited
Kevin Smith, MD, FRCPC Dermatologist
Licensed and inspected by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
Board Certified in the United States by the American Board of Dermatology
Suite 201, 6453 Morrison Street, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Please call us at 905-356-7744 if you have any questions, and to arrange for a prompt, confidential consultation and treatment. No referral is needed.