CONTACT: BECKY SOGLIN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 335-9917
New UIHC laser clears away certain facial skin blemishes
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A new medical device at the University of Iowa Hospitals
and Clinics is allowing dermatologists to provide many patients with nearly
painless removal of common skin blemishes. The diode laser, which does
not require anesthesia, eliminates many visible facial vessels, age spots
and sun freckles.
Currently, few medical centers offer the diode laser, which UIHC dermatologists
began using in December, said Duane C. Whitaker, M.D., UI professor of
dermatology and director of dermatologic surgery.
Using a wand-like handpiece connected to the laser source, the physician
directs a beam of concentrated light to the area needing treatment. The
light is absorbed by red blood cells in the visible veins or by melanin
found in an age spot or freckle. The unwanted cells then decompose, leaving
healthy cells intact.
"With the diode laser, we can offer an advanced treatment option
for patients with prominent facial redness or other blemishes," said
Whitaker. "Visible blood vessels, brown spots and rough patches are
very common on sun-exposed areas of the skin, particularly as we age. Most
patients have found the results of the diode laser treatment gratifying
and fairly convenient."
Some patients need only one or two treatments to remove blemishes. "It's
very fast," said Christopher J. Arpey, M.D., UI assistant professor
of dermatology and associate director of dermatologic surgery. "We
can treat a single blood vessel in a few seconds. You can usually see the
improvement right away." Arpey added that the treatment cost is moderate
considering laser technology is used.
In addition to treating the common effects of aging, the diode laser
is used to treat more serious facial skin disorders such as extensive sun
damage or rosacea, an adult form of acne. It can even help diminish disfigurement
caused by rheumatic diseases such as lupus. "It's not a cure, but
it is a good supplemental therapy to the use of systemic or topical medications,"
The diode laser treatment risks are minimal. During the procedure patients
may feel a "warm sensation" that goes away in a few minutes.
There is a very small risk of scarring or bruising, and some patients may
experience superficial flaking or redness that lasts a few days. Certain
patients may require pulsed-dye laser treatments in combination with the
diode laser. The pulsed laser is commonly used to treat vascular birthmarks.
Arpey said that if patients don't respond in one or two treatments with
the diode laser, then it probably won't help them with their facial skin
problem. "Some blood vessels are more stubborn than others,"
he said. "But we can give many people substantial improvement with
the diode laser."
A dermatologist can best determine whether a person seeking treatment
for a facial blemish or skin disorder should consider the diode laser as
an initial treatment option or for use along with other treatments. As
with all medical care, you should first consult your personal physician.
Individuals interested in finding out more about diode laser treatments
at the UIHC may call the UIHC Dermatology Surgery Scheduling Line at (319)
[EDITORS: Video footage of the diode laser treatment is available. For
more information, contact Tom Moore, director of visual media, UIHC Joint
Office of Communications and Marketing, at (319) 356-3945.]