Facial plast Surg 2009; 25(5): 316-323
DOI: 10.1055/s-0029-1243080
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Treatment of Laser Complications

Tina S. Alster1 , Randa R. Khoury1
  • 1Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, Washington, District of Columbia
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
18 December 2009 (online)


Modern lasers and light-based sources that were developed based on the theory of selective photothermolysis are capable of destroying specific tissue targets while minimizing the risk of scarring and pigmentary changes. This is accomplished through the use of a wavelength and pulse duration that is best absorbed by a specific chromophore such as melanin or hemoglobin. However, not all lasers and light sources adhere to this principle. Continuous wave (CW) lasers are least selective and may produce unwanted tissue damage and scarring through heat conduction to normal skin. Quasi-CW lasers limit excessive thermal destruction by delivery of a series of brief laser pulses but still pose a higher risk of nonspecific tissue damage and thermal injury. The pulsed and Q-switched (QS) systems adhere most closely to the principles of selective photothermolysis and result in the highest degree of selective destruction with the lowest risk of scarring from excessive thermal diffusion. Certainly, any laser system potentially can result in scarring and tissue damage when used incorrectly; therefore, adequate operator education and skill are essential. Side effects and complications that occur as a consequence of laser treatment can be significantly reduced if diagnosed and treated in an expeditious manner.