How do lasers and light treatments help with rosacea?

Lasers and light-based treatments have been successfully used to treat the visible blood vessels, redness and flushing of rosacea for many years.

(This article is part of our new series, Rosacea treatments.)

Of note: Several treatment sessions are often needed. Results from laser and light treatments may last for years, although 1 – 2 treatments a year may be needed for maintenance as rosacea is a chronic condition. The cost of these treatments is not covered by provincial health plans, although some private plans may cover treatment.

How these work:
Vascular lasers, such as pulsed dye lasers, and light-based devices, such as Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) or Broad Band Light (BBL), emit energy that is specifically absorbed by tiny, visible blood vessels just below the surface of the skin. This energy is then converted into heat that causes these small vessels to seal and be naturally removed.

Side effects
Laser energy feels like an elastic band snapping against the skin. Most people tolerate treatment well. Redness, heat and swelling of the skin are common in the first few days. Blistering and scarring are rare.
Treatments with light-based devices also feel like an elastic band snapping against the skin. With IPL or BBL, there are minimal side effects such as temporary, mild skin reddening.

Dos & don’ts
Never undergo treatment when you have tanned skin as you risk getting colour change to the skin, burns and scarring. Do consider having your treatments performed at a medical clinic supervised by a physician. Avoid your rosacea triggers and maintain good skincare.

Expect results
Benefits are often seen after 1 – 2 treatments and may continue to improve with ongoing sessions. Laser treatments are usually spaced 2 months apart. Light-based treatments may be done 1 month apart.

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