A dye laser is a laser which uses an organic dye mixed in a solvent as the lasing medium. Some of the laser dyes include rhodamine, fluorescein, coumarin, stilbene, umbelliferone, tetracene and malachite green. Some of the solvents used include water, glycol, ethanol, methanol, hexane, cyclohexane and cyclodextrin. The pulsed dye laser (PDL) delivers energy at a wavelength and duration that has been optimized for the selective treatment of vascular lesions. It has been used in the treatment of warts, port wine stains, hemangiomas, hypertrophic scars, and telangiectasias. Pulsed dye lasers have been used as an alternative to surgical excision or carbon dioxide lasers.

The dye solution is usually circulated at high speeds, to help avoid triplet absorption and to decrease degradation of the dye. The incoming light excites the dye molecules into the state of being ready to emit stimulated radiation. Pulsed dye lasers produce pulses of visible light at a wavelength of 585 or 595 nm with pulse durations of the order of 0.45–40 ms.

How does the pulsed dye laser work?

  • The pulsed dye laser, when used for dermatological applications, works on the principle of selective thermolysis.
  • The selected wavelength of laser light is absorbed to a high degree by the target structure (called chromophores) compared to surrounding tissue.
  • The pulse duration of laser energy is shorter than the target structure’s thermal relaxation time, which is the time taken for the target to cool by 50% of its peak temperature after irradiation.
  • This ensures that the impact of thermal energy is limited to the target structure and does not affect the surrounding tissue.
  • When pulsed dye laser light hits the skin, it is reflected, transmitted, or absorbed.
    Absorbed energy is most responsible for the clinical effect because it is converted to thermal energy (heat) by the intended targets (chromophores), thereby killing the diseased cells.
  • The skin chromophores commonly targeted by the pulsed dye laser is haemoglobin in blood.
  • Complications result when energy intended for the target chromophore is non-selectively diffused and absorbed by surrounding tissues and structures.

Pulsed-Dye Laser Skin Therapy is safe and proven for men and women of all ages, and while the face is the most commonly treated area, it can also be used on the neck, chest, hands, arms, legs and back.

The following conditions may be candidates for Pulsed-Dye Laser Skin Therapy:

  • Wrinkles and fine lines
  • Sun Damage
  • Rosacea
  • Brown Pigmentations
  • Facial veins
  • Leg Veins
  • Acne Marks
  • Psoriasis
  • Red Birthmarks (including Port Wine Stains)
  • Angiomas
  • Venous lakes
  • Red Stretchmarks
  • Warts

What does the laser procedure involve?

  • It is important that the correct diagnosis has been made by the clinician prior to treatment with PDL laser, particularly when pigmented lesions are targeted, to avoid mistreatment of skin cancer such as melanoma. The patient should wear eye protection, consisting of an opaque covering or goggles, throughout treatment.
  • Treatment with the PDL laser consists of placing a hand piece against the surface of the skin and activating the laser. Many patients describe each pulse to feel like the snapping of a rubber band against the skin.
  • Topical anaesthetic may be applied to the area, but is not usually necessary.
  • Skin surface cooling is applied during all hair-removal procedures. Some lasers have built-in cooling devices.
  • Immediately following treatment, an ice pack may be applied to soothe the treated area.
  • Care should be taken in the first few days following treatment to avoid scrubbing the area, and/or use of abrasive skin cleansers.
  • A bandage or patch may help to prevent abrasion of the treated area.
  • During the course of treatment patients should protect the area from sun exposure to reduce the risk of post inflammatory pigmentation.
  • After treatment, loose clothing should be worn to avoid rubbing, the treated area should not exposed. Swimming, saunas, hot baths and contact sports should be avoided until the treated area is healed.


Is PDL Treatment safe?

Yes. In fact, treatment is so safe that it has been successfully used since the 1980’s for the treatment of port wine stain birthmarks in infants and young children. During treatment, the epidermis is protected by Candela’s exclusive dynamic cooling method, DCD, which sprays a cooling mist onto the targeted area of skin before each laser pulse, maximizing comfort and protecting the skin during treatment

What is the procedure for being treated with a Pulse Dye Laser?

Your practitioner will ensure you are as comfortable as possible; most patients are reclined or lying down depending on the area being treated. Both the patient and the practitioner will be wearing protective eyewear. When treatment begins, the laser will be calibrated and parameters will be set based on the specific condition being treated, each condition and each individual is unique and these settings maximise the results you will see following treatment.

What Is General Anaesthesia?

General anaesthesia (an-es-THEEZ-ya) makes your child’s whole body go to sleep and is needed for children under 10 years of age for the pulsed dye laser treatment. General anaesthesia will take away the fear young children might have during this procedure. Your child’s reflexes will be completely relaxed. General anaesthesia makes the treatment easier and safer to do because your child will not feel any pain or have any memory of it.

What Kind of Conditions Can Be Treated with a Pulsed Dye Laser?

The commonly treated conditions include the following birthmarks:

  • Telangiectasias or spider angiomas – single dilated blood vessels.
  • Port wine stains – tend to darken and thicken as the person ages.
  • Hemangiomas – grow rapidly after birth, but usually disappear with time.
What are the Side Effects of Treatment?

Some patients experience redness or mild swelling in the treated area immediately following treatment, this usually goes away in a few hours. Occasionally purpura, a laser bruise, may occur. Purpura is transient and usually disappears in three to five days.

What is Pulse Dye Laser Therapy PDL?

Pulsed Dye Lasers delivers an intense but gentle burst of light into selectively targeted areas of the skin. The light is absorbed by specific blood vessels or melanin pigmented areas in the dermis depending on the condition being treated. Factors such as age, colour, and type of lesion, as well as the location on the body, all, determine whether lesions can be removed.