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Nd:YAG laser treatment

Author: Anoma Ranaweera B.V.Sc; PhD (Clinical Biochemistry, University of Liverpool, UK); Chief Editor: Dr Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton New Zealand, January 2014.

What is a laser?

The acronym ‘LASER’ stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. A laser works by emitting a wavelength of high energy light, which when focused on a certain skin condition creates heat and destroys diseased cells. Wavelength is measured in nanometres (nm).

Various kinds of lasers are available; they are differentiated by the medium that produces the laser beam. Each of the different types of lasers has a specific range of utility, depending on its wavelength and penetration.

What is Nd:YAG laser?

How does Nd:YAG laser work?

Lasers work by emitting a wavelength of high energy light, which when focused on a certain skin condition will create heat and destroy diseased cells.

What is Nd:YAG laser used for?

The FDA has approved a range of Nd:YAG laser machines for various skin disorders. These include Cutera® Nd:YAG laser (Cutera, California, USA), RevLite® Q-Switched Nd:YAG laser (Cynosure, Massachusetts, USA) and Fotona® Nd:YAG laser (Aesthetic Lasers Inc. MN, USA). Individual machines are designed to treat specific skin problems.

The following skin disorders can be treated with Nd:YAG laser beams.

Vascular lesions

The laser light pulses target red pigment (haemoglobin). Typical settings employed for the treatment of facial veins include a 50 milliseconds pulse duration, and fluence (ie output energy) of 150¬250 J/cm2 (measured in Joules per centimetre squared).

Pigmented lesions

Light pulses target melanin at variable depth on or in the skin.

Hair removal

The longer-pulse (millisecond) 1064-nm Nd:YAG laser system has been shown to be more effective in safely removing hair than has the Q-switched (nanosecond) Nd:YAG system.

Light pulses target the hair follicle, which causes the hair to fall out and minimises further growth. Typical settings employed include pulse durations of 2 to 20 milliseconds and fluences of 10¬40 J/cm2.

Tatoo removal

Typical settings are pulse duration: 10 nanoseconds, output energy: 300¬500Mj.

Onychomycosis

Other uses of Nd:YAG laser

Nd:YAG lasers have also be used to improve wrinkles in photo-aged skin.

What does the laser procedure involve?

It is important that the correct diagnosis has been made by the clinician prior to treatment, particularly when pigmented lesions are targeted, to avoid mistreatment of skin cancer such as melanoma.

Are there any side effects from Nd:YAG laser treatment?

Side effects from Nd:YAG laser treatment are usually minor and may include:

How many laser treatments can I expect?

Vascular lesions

Hair removal

Tattoo removal

Onychomycosis

Related information

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