Laser Therapy for Skin Cancer – Corte Madera, CA*

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About Laser Therapy

Laser therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for the reduction or removal of precancerous skin lesions, specifically actinic keratosis (AK). Actinic keratosis lesions form on skin that has been subjected to too much sun exposure and tanning bed UV rays in areas, such as the nose, scalp, ears, hands, and shoulders. They are usually dry or crusty spots that can sometimes itch or bleed, and they are considered precancerous because they typically turn into squamous cell carcinoma if left untreated. At Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology Corte Madera, Dr. Tracy Evans applies her training and skill as a board-certified dermatologist, skin cancer specialist, and aesthetic treatment provider to perform Fraxel laser therapy on patients diagnosed with AK. Whether she has diagnosed a patient herself or the patient is referred from another doctor, Dr. Evans is devoted to providing the absolute best treatment and care available. The Fraxel laser, which you might recognize as used for aesthetic purposes, is FDA approved for the treatment of AK and is so precise that it leaves the surrounding tissue untouched.

Ideal Candidates

The best candidates for precancer laser therapy are those diagnosed with actinic keratosis (AK). If you have been diagnosed with AK, or if you or a loved one has lesions that you suspect may be AK, it is very important that you seek treatment in order to prevent developing skin cancer. We encourage you to schedule an appointment with Dr. Evans at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology as soon as possible so she can evaluate your areas of concern. From there, she can discuss your diagnosis and whether or not laser therapy is your best course of action.

Procedure Technique

Dr. Evans performs laser therapy as an outpatient treatment in one of our relaxing and comfortable treatment rooms. We will ask you to come in about one hour before your treatment is scheduled to begin so we can cleanse your skin and apply a topical numbing cream. This cream takes about one hour to be effective, and then Dr. Evans will start your procedure. Depending on the number of lesions you have and their sizes, your treatment will take around 15 – 30 minutes, and you will feel comfortable without any pain. After Dr. Evans has completed your session, we will smooth a skin-nourishing serum over the treatment area(s) and then a healing and cooling mask, which you will wear for several minutes. When your mask is cleaned off, we will bandage your treatment area(s) and you will be able to return home to rest and heal.

What to Expect

The healing process after laser therapy usually involves a few mild side effects. For about a week, your treatment area might swell, crust, peel, or feel slightly sore, but these ease up naturally and quickly as long as you follow Dr. Evans's aftercare instructions. The full healing time is a bit different for each patient, but most feel completely back to normal within three weeks. It is important to note that one laser therapy session is typically not enough for the complete treatment of actinic keratosis. Dr. Evans usually advises her patients to have 3 – 5 treatments at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology, and they will need to be scheduled 5 – 6 weeks apart.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does insurance cover Fraxel for actinic keratosis?
Actinic keratosis (AK) is considered a medical condition so laser therapy is usually covered or partially covered by insurance. When you come in for your consultation, we will take your insurance provider's information so we can contact them to determine your coverage and personal expense. If you do not have insurance, we accept several payment methods and can help you find financing to make your treatment more affordable.

Is Actinic keratosis skin cancer?
No, not yet. Though actinic keratosis is not cancerous, it is considered a precancer because of the frequency with which it becomes squamous cell carcinoma. If you have developed dry, scaly, or crusty lesions you think could be AK, please schedule a skin cancer screening as soon as possible. Dr. Evans has over a decade of experience diagnosing and treating skin cancer so she can help you determine whether your spots are a concern.

Are laser treatments painful?
Most patients do not report feeling any pain during their laser treatments. We always apply a numbing cream before your procedure to ensure you don't experience any discomfort. Once your numbness has worn off afterward, you will have some mild soreness for 3 – 5 days. Dr. Evans generally recommends OTC pain medication if necessary.

How should I prepare for my AK laser treatment?
For a week or so before and after your treatment, you might need to avoid ingesting anything that can affect your blood's ability to clot, such as Vitamin E and aspirin. Some patients may also be prescribed a retinoid to apply or take for about a week before treatment. Dr. Evans will go over any preparation she needs from you at your consultation.

I thought Fraxel was an aesthetic treatment. Why do you use it for AK?
Fraxel is FDA approved for the safe and effective treatment of actinic keratosis, as well as for several different cosmetic procedures. You may have heard of Fraxel being used for laser skin resurfacing. When it is used to treat AK, it provides a very similar effect but in a very targeted area — the AK lesion. The laser is able to penetrate into the tissue to disrupt or damage certain cells. These cells die and slough off (the peeling) so that new healthy skin cells can grow in their place.

ZAP YOUR ACTINIC KERATOSIS

Actinic keratosis, or AK, is considered a precancer because it often does develop into squamous cell carcinoma. So even though it is not technically cancerous, it is very important to seek treatment before it can become something dangerous. Laser therapy is one of the most effective and common methods for the reduction or removal of AK, and Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology Corte Madera is very happy to be able to provide this treatment. Schedule your consultation with Dr. Evans soon if you have noticed any lesions that may be actinic keratosis.

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*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.