Very few of us have totally flawless skin; most of us have some areas of pigment or redness. Birthmarks are coloured spots that are present at birth or develop soon afterwards. And “red” birthmarks are not necessarily red, they may be pink or red, purple or light blue in colour, but all have a network of small blood vessels that give them their colour. Some, such as the strawberry mark (infantile hemangioma) disappear on their own by the time we reach five to seven years old, others leave a small mark, but some, such as Port Wine Stain, grow as we do; the vessels grow larger, and the colour may change from red or pink, to purple or a darker blue. Almost all respond well to Nd:YAG 1064nm technology.
How does the treatment work?
Short, safe bursts of light (called SWT®, but often referred to as a laser) are directed at the skin. The system filters the light to ensure the wavelengths used are absorbed by haemoglobin in the blood in your problem vessels. The light is converted to heat, which destroys the protein in the wall of the vein, causing the veins to gradually disappear after treatment. To ensure the best light transmission, a thin layer of gel (like that used in ultrasound examinations) is applied to your skin before treatment.
Which birthmarks can be treated?
Our technology can treat most birthmarks ranging from pink to blue in colour. The most common treatments are in the face, but most body sites can be treated. Treatments are most efficient in patients with light skin who are not suntanned at the time of the treatment. If your skin is less tanned, the contrast between the blood vessels and background colour of the skin is greater, making treatment easier.
How long does the treatment take?
Quite a large area can be targeted in one flash of light. The treatment time depends on the area to be covered, but a single session typically lasts 10-20 minutes.
Do I need to take special precautions before and after treatment?
The light used is completely safe, visible light. It is, however, important to avoid tanning (sun, solarium or self-tanning products) before and during the treatment period. Otherwise your tanned skin will absorb more light, which makes treatment less effective and less comfortable. It is also a good idea to avoid smoking in the 4 hours prior to treatment. Generally, no special care is necessary after treatment, but people with sensitive skin may benefit from applying a cold compress (a cold damp cloth) to the face immediately after treatment. After treatment, you should avoid sun exposure for 30 days or use sun protection (minimum SPF 30) if sun exposure cannot be avoided.
How many treatments do I need?
The number of treatments depends on the type size and location of the birthmark. Several treatments are generally needed, and these are timed about one month apart.
Does the treatment hurt?
This depends on the location and nature of the birthmark. No anaesthetics are required, and many patients describe the treatment as practically pain-free, like a flick from a rubber band followed by a sensation similar to the feeling of gentle warmth after a day on the beach, but most patients describe the feeling as an elastic band snapping on the skin.
How can I be sure the treatment is safe and effective?
Clinical trials documenting treatment’s safety and effectiveness were carried out by leading doctors prior to the launch of the treatments, and these were published in respected, referenced medical journals.