Laser skin treatment is becoming increasingly useful for a variety of skin and cosmetic conditions. The word LASER is short for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Lasers work by putting out a very high intensity beam of light of a particular wavelength. The light is designed to pass through the skin leaving the skin undisturbed and to selectively remove a particular target deep in the skin. This can be in the form of red to purple for blood vessels and cherry spots, brown pigment in aging spots, and unwanted pigmented hair follicles (unfortunately white hairs do not provide a target for laser devices at this time) and tattoo removal. The wavelength of light required for each of these different colours is quite specific and a different laser exists for each purpose. The advent of colour-specific lasers and ultra-short pulse durations has now made lasers much safer for use on the skin.

Resurfacing lasers which are used to remodel scars, reduce wrinkles from both aging and sun exposure and so rejuvenate tired skin are directed at the water molecules in our skin as the primary target rather than a specific colour.

IPL devices are not lasers in the true sense – they emit a broad spectrum of visible light not a single wavelength – but by restricting the band of light they can be tuned to target blood vessels, hair or pigment. The major advantage of such devices is that they can treat a larger area much more quickly in comparison to a laser which has a much smaller focus of treatment.