The Pulsed Dye Laser, or PDL uses a concentrated beam of light that targets blood vessels in the skin. The light is converted into heat, destroying the blood vessel while leaving the surrounding skin undamaged. The laser uses yellow light, which is very safe and does not result in any long-term skin damage. In the Baylor Clinic we own the Candela V-Beam. Another version of the PDL, the Candela Scleroplus, is located at the Texas Children's Hospital in the operating room in order to facilitate treatment of children who need anesthesia.
PDL treatments usually take only a few minutes and are performed during an outpatient clinic visit. No anesthesia is required, as the machine produces a cold spray just before the laser pulse, diminishing the sensation of pain. Most patients with usually need between 1-3 treatments. Patients with port wine stains, hemangiomas and extensive rosacea may need more treatments. Improving the appearance of red scars, hypertrophic scars or keloids may take a variable number of treatments. As with any other treatment, incomplete response or recurrence may occur.
Side effects are generally minimal. The most common side effect is bruising. With the V-Beam bruising can be minimized or even eliminated. If it should occur, bruising is most pronounced in the first few days and usually clears within 3-10 days. Less common side effects include temporary pigmentary changes usually lasting a few weeks. Sunblock for one month before treatment is recommended as tanned skin blocks the laser light and results in a higher chance of side effects. Scarring is extremely rare with this laser.
Skin care after the procedure is straightforward. A moisturizer, such as Aquaphor Ointment or Vaseline Jelly, applied 2-3 times per day will help protect the skin and speed healing. Sun protection will help minimize the chance of pigmentary changes. Makeup can be used starting on day two. If any crust forms, patients should not pick or try to remove it. Any bruising fades relatively quickly over a 3-10 day period.