Rosacea is a common chronic skin condition affecting millions. There isn’t a cure for it yet. There are, however, several treatment options to manage symptoms and one of them is laser treatment for rosacea.
Laser treatments target and collapse redness-causing visible blood vessels. It also removes thickening skin due to rosacea. There are multiple laser treatment options for rosacea: pulsed-dye laser, CO2 laser, erbium YAG laser, and intense pulsed light therapy.
Laser treatment isn’t for everyone. There are certain groups who should think twice before getting laser therapy. This is why a consultation with your dermatologist first is a must.
Below, we’ll go over laser as a treatment option for rosacea and the various types patients can choose from. We’ll also go over who is eligible to get it, recovery, risks, and side effects.
What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is an inflammatory and chronic skin condition characterized by red and flushed skin. This usually affects the cheek and nose area though symptoms could also spread to the forehead, chin, neck, and back.
Rosacea is a very common skin condition, affecting more than 16 million Americans.
Aside from chronic facial redness and blushing, other symptoms include visible blood vessels, pus-filled bumps, and thickening skin. Flaky, sensitive, irritated, and swollen skin may also be present.
Doctors are yet to pinpoint exactly what causes rosacea. For now, it can be pointed to a combination of genetic predispositions and environmental factors.
Rosacea is more common in the 30 to 50 age group. It’s more common in women, though men who developed it tend to have more severe cases.
Those with fair skin, hair, and eyes are at a higher risk. And rosacea runs in the family – so if you have a family or two with the same condition, you’re at risk as well.
There are four subtypes of rosacea:
- Subtype 1: Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea is characterized by persistent flushing and redness across the face.
- Subtype 2: Papulopustular rosacea has the general symptoms of subtype 1 but with additional symptoms of pus-filled and acne-like bumps.
- Subtype 3: Phymatous rosacea is characterized thickening skin. This usually occurs after only suffering from other types of rosacea first.
- Subtype 4: Ocular rosacea refers to rosacea symptoms affecting the eye and eye area. The eye appears red and bloodshot with bumps or cysts on the eyelids.
For an in-depth guide on rosacea and its four subtypes, check out our article here.
Doctors are also yet to find out a cure for it. For now, several treatment options are available for rosacea patients.
Rosacea is not a health risk and is not a danger to the patient’s life. Its appearance, however, especially on the face, can cause self-consciousness issues. This is why dermatologists offer various treatment plans to their patients. And one of these treatments is laser treatment.
What is Laser Treatment and Therapy?
Laser treatment and therapy use a focused beam of light on the treatment area. These beams of light are in a certain wavelength to target deep within the skin.
Laser therapy has many benefits in the medical field. And for years now, doctors and dermatologists have started using it to control, manage, and minimize the symptoms of rosacea.
Laser Treatment For Rosacea
There are various treatment plans for managing and minimizing rosacea symptoms and one emerging treatment is laser therapy.
The way laser treatment works for rosacea is the laser and light reduce and collapse visible blood vessels that are to blame for the red and flushed look.
Some laser treatments can also target and diminish thickening skin, which is also a common rosacea symptom.
When considering laser treatment for rosacea, it’s important to know there are different types of laser treatments and each type can target specific symptoms.
- Pulsed-dye laser therapy for rosacea
One of the most common laser treatments for rosacea is pulsed-dye laser treatment or PDL. PDL uses beams of light and directs them to the redness-causing visible blood vessels.
What these lasers do is disrupt and destroy the lining of visible blood vessels. This is able to treat visible blood vessels without damaging the surrounding skin and tissue. This helps resolve issues with persistent flushing and redness.
This is also known as V Beam, V-Star, or Cynosure.
- CO2 laser for rosacea
Carbon dioxide or CO2 lasers are ablative lasers and are known as “shaping” lasers. What this rosacea treatment does is reshape or repair skin that has been inflamed, bruised, or raised due to rosacea.
They’re notably known to help treat rhinophyma, a rosacea-associated condition that affects the nose. Rhinophyma causes raised and thickened skin on the nose and CO2 lasers help eliminate that. It also helps stimulate the growth of new skin in the treatment area.
- Erbium YAG laser for rosacea
Erbium YAG lasers are another type of laser treatment that targets visible blood vessels. It can also correct excess tissue on the affected area that makes the nose appear bulbous, a common symptom of phymatous rosacea.
- Intense pulsed light therapy (IPL) for rosacea
Intense pulsed light therapy or IPL is technically not a laser treatment but rather a light therapy. Laser treatments use a single beam of light to focus on the treatment area. IPL uses multiple wavelengths at once instead.
IPL can target visible blood vessels, reducing and minimizing rosacea-caused redness. It can also help get rid of unwanted pigments and uneven skin tone.
Who is Eligible?
While laser treatments and therapies are gaining popularity for managing and controlling rosacea symptoms, it’s definitely not the best option for all cases.
It’s worth noting that laser therapy is usually a last resort for many rosacea patients when they have exhausted all other possible treatments. Laser treatments are also usually done alongside other medications.
To make sure that laser treatments are what’s best for your condition, consult with your doctor and dermatologist first and have them guide you through it.
Who shouldn’t have laser therapy?
Those that fit in any of the categories below should think twice before getting laser therapy:
- Those with the tendency to develop cold sores
- Those who bruise easily
- Those that are sensitive to light
- Those who take aspirin or other blood thinners
Laser light therapy is usually recommended for patients with light skin tones as this may have adverse effects on darker skin tones.
How Many Treatments Do I Need?
To achieve optimal results, laser treatments usually require multiple sessions. The number of required treatments usually goes from two to eight, depending on what your dermatologist suggests.
These sessions are typically spaced four to six weeks apart.
How Effective is Laser Therapy for Rosacea?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), results from treating visible blood vessels with laser and light treatment could last anywhere from three to five years. And while the treated blood vessels won’t reappear, new visible blood vessels can form.
Also according to AAD’s data, most laser light therapy patients report about a 50% to 75% reduction in visible blood vessels after a few treatments. Some even see a 100% reduction!
Laser Treatment Recovery, Risks, and Side Effects
Non-ablative laser treatments have little to no downtime and recovery. For ablative laser treatments, expect the skin to heal and recover in two to three weeks’ time. During this time, the skin may be raw, sore, and sensitive. Some patients may also experience skin scabbing as it heals.
Laser-treated skin is especially sensitive to the sun so make sure to use and apply enough SPF and sun protection.
When getting a series of laser treatments, your doctor will usually give you a detailed guide on what and what not to do in between, before, and after sessions so make sure to take notes.
Though generally safe and non-invasive to treat rosacea and other skin concerns, you can expect some common side effects after laser treatment:
- Mild pain and bruising
- Tight and itchy skin
- Redness (lasts for about two weeks)
- Rashes (last for about one to two weeks)
These mild side effects shouldn’t last long and should go away on their own. If they don’t, it would be best to pay your doctor a visit.
Laser Therapy Cost and Insurance
Laser therapy costs can be expensive, especially since you will probably need several sessions to get results.
How much it will cost you would vary depending on how many sessions you’re doing and the severity of your symptoms. The location of the clinic and the practitioner’s skills and experience could also affect the cost.
If we’re talking about exact prices, it’s safe to say that laser treatments can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000.
In the United States, health insurance doesn’t usually cover laser treatments so you will be paying out of your pocket. This is another factor to consider.
There isn’t a found cure for rosacea and its symptoms yet. There are, however, several treatment options that can help rosacea sufferers deal with and minimize their symptoms. One of these options is laser treatment.
Laser treatment targets visible blood vessels and also diminishes thickening skin due to rosacea. There are many options if you’re considering laser treatment for rosacea. These include pulsed-dye laser, CO2 laser, erbium YAG laser, and intense pulsed light therapy.
And that has been our detailed guide on laser treatment for rosacea. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have more inquiries!