Pigmentation means colouring.
Skin pigmentation disorders affect the colour of your skin. Your skin gets its colour from a pigment called melanin. Special cells in the skin make melanin. When these cells become damaged or unhealthy, it affects melanin production. Some pigmentation disorders affect just patches of skin. Others affect your entire body.
If your body makes too much melanin, your skin gets darker.
Pregnancy, Addison’s disease, and sun exposure all can make your skin darker. If your body makes too little melanin, your skin gets lighter. Vitiligo is a condition that causes patches of light skin. Albinism is a genetic condition affecting a person’s skin. A person with albinism may have no colour, lighter than normal skin colour, or patchy missing skin colour. Infections, blisters and burns can also cause lighter skin.
Pigmentation disorders can be treated with light therapy.
Intense Pulsed Light systems release short pulses of filtered light that is readily absorbed by the high concentration of melanin found within freckles, sun spots or liver spots. The rapid absorption of light energy heats the melanin and causes the destruction of the melanin-rich cells.
E-light technology has been used with great success to remove pigmented areas on the skin. Using this state of the art technology, charged energy light (IPL) and radio frequency (RF) are selectively emitted and absorbed by the pigmented areas, sparing the normal surrounding tissue.
Combining Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) with radio frequency (RF) requires less melanin-dependent light energy to successfully treat pigmentation, being therefore safer for treating darker skin tones.
Skin pigmentation in the face, neck, chest and hands can be treated safely and effectively. The added benefit of the E-Light technology is that it also works to activate cells in the skin called fibroblasts which stimulate collagen remodeling and new collagen production. Effectively, this helps to rejuvenate the skin, improving its texture, visibly minimizing pores and reducing superficial fine lines and wrinkles to reveal a more youthfully hydrated appearance.
A diode laser uses semiconductor (cooling) technology that produces coherent projection of light in the visible to infrared range. It uses a light beam with a narrow spectrum to target specific chromophores in the skin.
Compared to other laser systems such as the Ruby and Alexandrite, the 800nm diode laser wavelength offers the deepest penetration levels and superior melanin absorption.
These unique characteristics make the diode laser the most suitable technology for laser hair removal, enabling safe and effective treatment of all skin and hair types, in all body areas.
Diode systems deliver a longer wavelength than the Ruby (694 nm wavelength) and the Alexandrite (755 nm wavelength) lasers, but a shorter wavelength than the Nd: Yag (1064 nm wavelength) laser.
This longer wavelength enables the light to penetrate deeper and is theoretically safer than shorter wavelength lasers because it can better avoid the melanin pigment in the skin’s epidermis.
The Diode lasers longer wavelength of light thereby penetrates into the hair follicle without causing as much epidermal injury as the Ruby or the Alexandrite. This fact allows the Diode laser to be used on darker skin colours than the Ruby or Alexandrite.
Diode lasers use the principle of selective photothermolysis (abbreviated SPTL) to target specific chromophores in the skin, usually melanin or blood.
The lasers damage the chromophores by selectively heating them while leaving surrounding tissue unharmed. When treating unwanted hair, for example, the melanin in the hair follicles is targeted and damaged which results in the disruption of hair growth and regeneration.
A diode laser can be complemented by cooling technology, or other pain reducing methods which improve treatment efficacy and patient comfort.
Nd:YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet) is a crystal that is used as a laser medium for solid-state lasers.
The triply ionised neodymium [Nd(III)] dopant (ie a substance added in minute amounts to another pure substance to alter its conductivity), typically replaces a small fraction of the yttrium ions in the host crystal structure, since the two ions are of similar size.
The neodymium ion provides the laser activity in the crystal.
Nd:YAG laser has a wave length of 1064 nm and has the capability to reach deeper layers of skin tissue than other types of lasers.
In Q-switched mode, Nd:YAG produces 2 wavelengths, one in the infrared range (1064 nm) and a second beam of 532 nm wavelength which is useful for superficial skin lesions. Q-switching refers to the technique of making the laser produce a high intensity beam in very short pulses.
While the epidermal lesions respond best to 532 nm (frequency doubled NdYAG) the dermal lesions are better treated with 1064 nm. Q-switched lasers are the gold standard for treatment of tattoo
Lentigines: usually 1-2 sessions are enough to clear lentigines at 532 nm. However there is a risk of hypo/ hyperpigmentation, so avoidance of sun exposure for 4-6 weeks post laser is very important.
CafÈ-au lait macules: these again can be treated effectively in 1-2 sessions, but recurrence is common which requires multiple treatments.
Freckles: Response is same as for lentigines. Although very effective, risk of dyspigmentation exists.
Dermal pigmented lesions: Nevus of Ota, Nevus of Ito, mongolian spots, Horiís nevus, ABNOMs (acquired bilateral nevus of Ota like macules), and other flat pigmented birthmarks respond well at 1064 nm. Multiple sessions are usually required with near-total clearing of the lesion in most cases.
Light pulses target melanin at variable depth on or in the skin.
The fractional CO2 laser takes the CO2 laser beam and fractionates, or pixellates that beam into thousands of tiny little shafts of light. These tiny shafts of light penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin. The skin then repairs those tiny shafts by pushing out the old sun damaged skin and replacing it with new skin. The “collateral” heat damage also helps to shrink existing collagen.