Redness and flushing, which are probably the most prominent and common features of rosacea, are, in my opinion, best treated with lasers. This technology is also highly effective in treating the red lines (telangietasis) that appear when the tiny blood vessels under the skin become enlarged. In addition, some studies have demonstrated that laser treatments can improve the acne-like pimples associated with rosacea.
Various lasers are used to treat rosacea, including the ND:YAG laser, the pulsed-dye laser, and the KTP laser. To help remove rosacea-associated thickening of the skin on the nose and cheeks (rhinophyma), lasers such as the erbium:YAG laser and the CO2 are sometimes used.
Although most patients see a significant improvement in their symptoms following one laser session, several sessions are usually needed to complete the treatment. If you then make the effort to avoid rosacea-aggravating sun exposure (by wearing a strong sunscreen daily), visible blood vessels may not return for years.
Laser rosacea treatment is slightly uncomfortable, but not painful. In fact, the discomfort is not even great enough to require that a topical numbing cream be applied to the skin before the procedure begins. Just how uncomfortable you’ll feel during your treatment session will depend on your pain threshold. Interestingly, I find that men tend to have lower thresholds for pain than women. Let me emphasize, however, that rarely does anyone complain about pain during a laser treatment.
You’ll experience no downtime, and can return to your normal activities as soon as you feel comfortable doing so. Expect some redness, which usually lasts for an hour or two after treatment, and some swelling, which typically lasts for two to six hours, but sometimes lingers for up to four days. You may also experience purpura, or bruising; this side effect, when it occurs, may take four to seven days to go away.
You want to be in the hands of a physician who is experienced and skilled in using lasers to treat rosacea. The treatment of the diffused generalized redness of rosacea particularly requires considerable skill. If an area is over-treated, the “footprints” of the laser treatment will be visible as white circular marks on the skin. Such marks look like scarring, although they are, in fact, the skin’s normal color. The way to fix this, believe it or not, is to get additional laser treatments. But, of course, the best course of action is to prevent the over-treatment in the first place. That’s why it’s essential to seek care from a physician with extensive experience in the use of lasers to get rid of the visible signs of rosacea.