The Latest on Light Therapy and Laser Therapy for Rosacea
Light and laser therapies may actually offer the best hope to Rosacea sufferers, but there’s been very little clinical research done on either procedure, in large part because the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) doesn’t require this type of treatment to submit the same stringent documentation as medications. But dermatologists are learning more and more about the best way to use these devices, and have found that when used correctly, they can provide long lasting relief of rosacea’s symptoms for many of their patients. Let’s take a look at both.
What is Laser and Light Therapy used for?
Laser and light therapies can both be used for flushing, redness and dilated blood vessels, while laser therapy can also treat rhinophyma. Both treatments reach below the skin’s surface and make changes to the deeper tissue there, but laser therapy is more targeted then light therapy. The biggest problem right now with both of these treatments is that nobody’s sure how long their impact lasts, and they’re both expensive – and insurance does not cover them. But for patients who are willing to pay, they have definitely been shown to help a lot.
Pulsed Dye Laser
There are several different types of lasers that can be used, but the one that dermatologists report the most success with is the Pulsed Dye Laser, or PDL. Patients show a big improvement after their first treatment, and if they have a second treatment the impact is even greater – in one group of patients who were interviewed about their satisfaction, all sixteen were very pleased, and said that everything from flushing and burning to itching and overall redness had decreased. The PDL laser creates far more facial bruising then other laser technologies such as the KTP and nd:Yag lasers, and though at first bruising sounds like a bad thing, it turns out that the more bruising the treatment causes, the more effective it is, with a very noticeable long term difference in the amount of redness, burning and itching that the patient is left with. It’s not clear why this is the case, and patients need to decide for themselves whether short term bruising is worth it to them. Laser is also the best treatment for rosacea sufferers whose condition has progressed to include rhinophyma; the earlier the symptoms are treated, the better.
Advantages of Light Therapy
Light therapy is a newer technology; it does not use lasers and as a result its impact on the skin is more diffuse and less targeted. Although it doesn’t leave the same level of bruising behind, which is an advantage, the difference in intensity may make it less effective, as it seems that more treatments are needed, and not as many people get positive results as do with laser therapy. One advantage of light therapy is that it can be used for breakouts, which is not the case with the laser.
Best Candidates for Light Therapy
Not everybody is a good candidate for light or laser therapy, for a number of reasons. From a medical perspective, if you suffer from diabetes, have a tendency to scar or keloid or have clotting problems, your doctor will advise you against it. It also does not work for rosacea sufferers who are tan, and if you go out in the sun afterwards your symptoms will get worse. Physicians also report that they are sometimes hesitant to provide the treatment because patients think it is going to be a cure; there is no cure for rosacea, and though laser and light treatments can be helpful and improve quality of life for some, for others it has little or no impact, and for a few it can even make their symptoms worse.
How Much Does Light and Laser Therapy Cost?
Finally, as mentioned before, most insurance policies do not cover the treatments, and it can be expensive. Expect to pay approximately $500 per treatment (depending on where you live), and more than one treatment is generally required. No matter how many treatments you have, remember the effect will not be permanent; your symptoms will eventually return. Try the medications that your physician prescribes first and give them a fair shot before jumping to light or laser treatments, and if you do make the decision to have either procedure, make sure that your dermatologist has plenty of experience, not only so that they can properly advise you, but so that you can be assured that you’re in good hands.