Lasers and the Skin

Lasers have been used as a treatment for certain forms of skin disorder for over 40 years; they can help some conditions, but they are not a magic wand, so don’t believe everything that you read.

signSince 1991, my plastic surgeon colleague Peter Mahaffey and I have run the Laser Treatment Centre at Bedford Hospital . We were one of the very first to offer Laser treatment on the NHS, initially for vascular birthmarks and subsequently for a whole range of conditions. In 1995 we helped establish the British Skin Laser Study Group.

Our centre remains at the cutting edge of Laser treatment and research.

It is important to state that not all cases are suitable for treatment, that multiple treatments may be necessary, and that in some cases improvement may not be complete.

Currently we have available:

Candela SPTL1-B tunable dye Laser : this is for the treatment of congenital vascular birthmarks, such as port wine stains. The Laser may also be of value in treating spider marks, facial thread veins, and some other similar lesions.

Lynton Laser Paragon Nd-YAG operating at 532 and 1064 nm. This may be suitable for treating some flat pigmented lesions, such as solar lentigo and café au lait macules at 532nm and for tattoos (including traumatic/accidental tattoos) at 1064nm.

Long pulse Alexandrite Laser (Apogee 6200: this is for the treatment of pathological hirsutism (excessive hair). The Laser does produce excellent results, but only works in those with dark, terminal type hairs.

Coherent Ultrapulse Carbon dioxide Laser: this may be used for the treatment of keratoses, xanthelasma, warts, epidermal naevi, skin tags, and satellite metastases from malignant melanoma. It may also be used in the treatment of acne scarring.

Long-pulsed Alexandrite Laser – highly effective for treating excessive hair growth

This is the Coherent Ultrapulse carbon dioxide Laser; may be used for acne scarring, superficial skin cancers, keratoses, xanthelasmata, skin tags, epidermal naevi


We often get requests for Laser removal of tattoos, but I don’t believe in destroying great works of art. (Actually only blue-black tattoos respond to Laser)

Laser TypeWavelength
ChromophoreCommon Uses




Hair removal, benign pigmented lesions

CO 2



Warts, keratoses, xanthelasma,acne scars, melanoma metastases

Pulsed dye Laser



vascular lesions (port wine stain, telangiectasia, spider naevi)

Q-switched Nd:YAG


Dark tattoo pigment

Benign pigmented lesions, tattoo removal

Q-switched ruby


Dark tattoo pigment

Hair removal, benign pigmented lesions, tattoo removal


Adequate eye protection is essential for safe use of Lasers