Lasers are commonly used in cosmetic and medical procedures in part because of their ability to be able to target parts of the body with a high degree of precision.
Lasers can also penetrate the skin far deeper than topical treatments. Usually when we hear about the lasers involved in these treatments, it’s easy to assume they’re an identical tool.
Lasers actually come in a variety of constructions and uses, and an interesting application in cosmetic procedures is the solid state laser.
Lasers can use different materials to excite ions into emitting light, including liquids and even gases.
Initially ruby crystals were the first type of solid state laser in production, but the industry has developed specialized models with one of the more common lasers using neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet, or Nd:YAG.
Some machines will redirect the laser through potassium titanyl phosphate crystal (KTP). We often imagine lasers as a red beam of light but interestingly the KTP laser emits a green light with a wavelength of 532 nanometers.
It turns out that the property of the light from the laser can be exploited to suit different skin treatments, and the green light has a very special pattern of largely being absorbed by oxyhemoglobin.
Any tissue containing this specific substance will react to the laser while other areas remain unaffected. Oxyhemoglobin is responsible for the red colour we associate with blood, so it’s no surprise to hear that the KTP laser is used to reduce the appearance of spider veins.
YAG is also used to treat the appearance of veins which become more noticeable as the body ages, even if it’s not as specialized at treatment compared to the KTP laser. It is still considered a high energy laser but the effects tend to be gentler on the skin and therefore easier to heal.
In addition to removal of legs and facial veins, YAG lasers are also useful for wrinkles, scars, and skin discoloration. Among the options for permanent hair removal, some cosmetic procedures require the use of the YAG laser for stubborn hair in clients of Asian or African descent.
Other applications of the YAG laser include:
KTP laser treatment usually lasts 2-4 sessions and is effective in treating acne scarring, rosacea, and the removal of tattoos.
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