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Quick Fact about Freckles

Quick facts

  • Freckles are multiple, flat spots on the skin that start at a young age and darken with sun exposure
  • The Ruby and Medlite lasers are highly attracted to the melanin in freckles and can be used to remove freckles
  • The Gemini laser can be used to remove freckles on asian, olive or darker skin types
  • Usually one to two sessions are required, and the recovery period is usually one week
  • Sunscreen pre and post treament is important to help reduce the recurrence of freckles.

What are freckles?

Freckles are multiple, flat, spots on the skin due to uneven distribution of melanin (skin pigment) in those areas. They are usually around the size of a matchstick head, and are reasonably uniform in colour. They are usually situated on sun exposed areas of the skin, including the face, neck, arms and shoulders and usually darken after sun exposure.

Usually, freckles start to occur at a very young age.  Freckles most commonly occur in people with lighter or fairer skin types, and in those who have a genetic predisposition to developing freckles.

How do I treat freckles?

Freckles are best treated by laser. There are two lasers available for the treatment of freckles at The Victorian Cosmetic Institute, and the laser used will depend on the type of freckles.

Lightening creams (such as Kligman's formula) can be used in the treatment of freckles, but usually only fade the freckles rather than removing them completely. Lasers are able to remove the freckles completely usually after one to two sessions.

One of the lasers that is used for the treatment of freckles is the Q-switched ruby laser. The ruby laser has a wavelength, 694nm, that is highly attracted to melanin.

Therefore, the laser energy tends to be attracted to freckles, which are high in melanin, in preference to normal skin. The laser energy that is absorbed by the freckles tends to cause destruction of the melanin in the freckle, which leads to its removal.

Furthermore, the q-switched ruby laser has extremely short pulses of laser energy, each pulse lasting only a few nanoseconds (billionths of a second). The production of high energy levels in this short period of time also has a photo-acoustic effect on the melanin in the freckles, literally shattering the pigment particles.

The other laser that is used for the treatment of freckles is the Medlite laser. The 532nm wavelength on the Medlite laser is used and this is also highly attracted to melanin.

The penetration depth of the Medlite laser is not as deep as the ruby laser, and hence may not be effective on freckles that are located deeper within the skin. The advantage of using the Medlite laser for freckles is that it is much quicker than the ruby laser and may be used to treat larger areas such as freckles on the body.


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