Excimer laser therapy is a cutting-edge medical treatment used to alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis.
It offers a targeted and efficient solution for managing this chronic skin condition.
In this article we’ll explore how this innovative approach can provide relief to those suffering from psoriasis and discuss its effectiveness in comparison to other treatments.
What is Excimer Laser
An excimer laser, short for “excited dimer laser,” is a type of ultraviolet laser that produces high-energy, short-pulse light. It operates on the principle of using a combination of reactive gases, typically a noble gas (like argon, krypton, or xenon) and a halogen gas (such as fluorine or chlorine), in an excited state to create a laser beam.
The term “excimer” is derived from “excited dimer” because it involves the formation of molecules, or dimers, in an excited state. In an excimer laser, the gases are electrically discharged to create a population inversion, where a large number of atoms or molecules are in an excited energy state. When these excited dimers spontaneously return to their ground state, they release energy in the form of extremely short-wavelength ultraviolet light.
Excimer lasers are used in a variety of applications, including:
- Medical and surgical procedures: Excimer lasers are used in ophthalmology for LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) eye surgery to reshape the cornea and correct vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. They are also used in dermatology for skin treatments and dermatological conditions.
- Semiconductor manufacturing: Excimer lasers are used in photolithography processes to etch or pattern silicon wafers during semiconductor chip fabrication.
- Micromachining and material processing: Excimer lasers are used for precision micromachining, ablation, and material removal in various industries, including electronics, aerospace, and automotive.
- Scientific research: They are employed in various scientific applications, such as spectroscopy and high-speed imaging.
Excimer lasers are favored for their ability to produce short, high-energy pulses of ultraviolet light, which makes them suitable for applications requiring high precision and minimal heat damage to surrounding material. Their unique characteristics make them valuable tools in a range of industries.
Excimer Laser in the treatment of Psoriasis
Excimer laser therapy is also a treatment option for psoriasis, a chronic skin condition characterized by the rapid growth of skin cells, resulting in thick, red, scaly, and often itchy patches.
Excimer laser therapy is a targeted and effective approach for treating localized psoriasis lesions, such as those found on the elbows, knees, hands, and feet. Here’s how excimer laser treatment works for psoriasis:
- Principle: Excimer laser therapy uses a high-energy ultraviolet B (UVB) laser, typically emitting at 308 nanometers (nm). This wavelength of UVB light is effective in slowing down the excessive skin cell growth associated with psoriasis.
- Targeted Treatment: Unlike traditional UVB phototherapy, which exposes the entire body to UVB light, the excimer laser allows for precise targeting of affected areas. It can deliver focused and high-dose UVB radiation to psoriasis lesions, while minimizing exposure to healthy skin.
- Customized Treatment: The treatment is tailored to the individual patient, taking into account the specific severity and location of their psoriasis lesions. The dermatologist adjusts the laser settings to provide the appropriate dose of UVB light.
- Minimized Side Effects: Because the treatment is highly focused, there is a reduced risk of side effects and damage to healthy skin. This makes it suitable for use on areas where skin is typically thinner and more sensitive.
- Quick Sessions: Excimer laser treatment sessions are usually short and can be completed in a matter of minutes, making it a convenient option for many patients.
- Effectiveness: Excimer laser therapy can help reduce or clear psoriasis symptoms in many patients. The number of sessions required varies depending on the individual’s response and the severity of their condition.
It’s important to note that excimer laser therapy is typically recommended for patients with mild to moderate psoriasis or for those with localized plaques. It may not be the first-line treatment for those with more widespread or severe psoriasis.
Other treatment options, such as topical creams, systemic medications, and phototherapy with broader UVB or psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) light, may be considered for these cases.
As with any medical treatment, it’s essential to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare provider to determine the most suitable treatment approach for your specific case of psoriasis.
They can assess your condition, discuss the available options, and help you make an informed decision regarding your psoriasis treatment plan.
How Excimer Laser is used for Psoriasis treatment
Excimer laser therapy is used to treat localized psoriasis lesions. Here’s how it’s typically used for psoriasis treatment:
- Consultation and Assessment: The process begins with a consultation with a dermatologist or healthcare provider who specializes in psoriasis treatment. During this consultation, the healthcare provider will assess the severity of your psoriasis, determine the suitability of excimer laser therapy, and identify the specific psoriasis lesions that need treatment.
- Customized Treatment Plan: If excimer laser therapy is deemed appropriate for your condition, the healthcare provider will develop a customized treatment plan. This plan will take into account the location and severity of your psoriasis lesions. The dermatologist will also establish the starting dose and frequency of treatment.
- Preparation: Before the treatment session, you’ll need to prepare the affected skin. Typically, this involves cleaning the area and removing any creams, lotions, or oils that might be present. You may also be asked to wear protective eyewear to shield your eyes from the laser light.
- Excimer Laser Session: During the excimer laser treatment session, you and the healthcare provider will wear protective eyewear, and the affected area of your skin will be exposed to the laser. The dermatologist will precisely target the psoriasis plaques with the laser’s high-energy, narrow-band ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) light.
- Treatment Duration: The duration of each laser session can vary but is typically quite short, often lasting just a few minutes. The exact time depends on factors such as the severity of the condition and the size of the area being treated.
- Frequency: The frequency of excimer laser treatments can vary and is usually determined by your healthcare provider. It’s common for patients to have multiple sessions per week. The total number of sessions will depend on the individual response to treatment and the improvement in the psoriasis lesions.
- Assessment of Progress: Throughout the treatment course, your healthcare provider will assess the progress of your psoriasis and make adjustments to the treatment plan if necessary. They may increase the laser dose or change the frequency of sessions based on how your skin is responding.
- Maintenance and Follow-up: Even after the psoriasis symptoms have improved, maintenance treatments may be recommended to keep the condition under control. These sessions are typically less frequent than the initial treatment sessions.
Excimer laser therapy is particularly effective for treating localized psoriasis and is less likely to affect healthy skin. It is often used when other treatments, such as topical creams or phototherapy with broad-spectrum UVB light, have not provided sufficient results or when patients prefer a more targeted approach.
As with any medical treatment, it’s crucial to work closely with your healthcare provider to develop and follow an appropriate treatment plan for your specific case of psoriasis. They can monitor your progress, ensure your safety during treatment, and make adjustments as needed.
Excimer Laser side effects
Excimer laser therapy for psoriasis is generally considered safe and well-tolerated. However, as with any medical procedure, there can be potential side effects and risks.
It’s essential to discuss these with your healthcare provider before starting excimer laser treatment. Here are some possible side effects and considerations associated with excimer laser therapy for psoriasis:
- Skin Irritation: After treatment, some patients may experience mild skin irritation in the treated area, which can include redness, itching, and dryness. This irritation is usually temporary and typically resolves within a few hours to a couple of days.
- Hyperpigmentation or Hypopigmentation: In some cases, changes in skin pigmentation may occur. This can result in darkening (hyperpigmentation) or lightening (hypopigmentation) of the treated skin. These pigment changes are usually temporary but may persist for an extended period in some individuals.
- Blistering: In rare instances, blistering may occur in the treated area, particularly if the laser settings are too aggressive. Blistering is more likely to happen if the skin is sensitive, damaged, or if too much UVB light is delivered during the session.
- Skin Sensitivity: Some patients may experience increased skin sensitivity after treatment, especially in the treated area. It’s essential to protect the treated skin from further UV exposure, as it may be more susceptible to sunburn.
- Risk of Burns: There is a potential risk of burns if the excimer laser is not properly administered or if the treatment is not well-suited to the patient’s skin type. It’s crucial for healthcare providers to adhere to safety protocols and adjust the laser settings based on an individual’s skin condition.
- Herpes Activation: For individuals with a history of oral or genital herpes, the treatment area may be at risk of herpes activation. In some cases, antiviral medications may be prescribed before and after treatment to minimize this risk.
- Eye Protection: Eye protection is necessary during the treatment session to prevent eye damage from exposure to UVB light. Your healthcare provider should provide appropriate eye shields.
- Adverse Reactions: In very rare cases, individuals may experience more severe adverse reactions, such as scarring or significant changes in pigmentation. These are extremely uncommon but can be a risk with any laser treatment.
It’s important to have a thorough discussion with your healthcare provider before undergoing excimer laser therapy. They will assess your suitability for the treatment, discuss potential side effects and risks, and help you understand the expected outcomes. Additionally, they will provide guidelines for post-treatment care and how to manage any side effects that may occur.
Is Excimer Laser good for psoriasis
Overall, excimer laser therapy is considered a safe and effective treatment for many individuals with psoriasis, particularly for localized plaques.
The benefits of reducing psoriasis symptoms often outweigh the potential risks and side effects, but individual experiences can vary, so open communication with your healthcare provider is crucial.