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Pulsed dye laser

The pulsed dye laser (PDL) uses a concentrated beam of yellow-colored light to heat and destroy blood vessels and other red marks.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: June 26, 2012

Pulsed dye lasers (PDL) are commonly used during cosmetic procedures. They are typically considered vascular lasers - that is, they target blood and vein-caused imperfections.

The pulsed dye laser (PDL) uses a concentrated beam of yellow-colored light to heat and destroy blood vessels and other red marks. These systems are non-ablative, meaning they do not damage the surface of the skin. Instead, they emit high-energy laser light in short pulses that penetrate the skin and target only the underlying blood vessels.

PDL devices fall in the range of 585 and 595 nanometers. They have a spot size of between five and 10 millimeters, which is large enough to efficiently treat birthmarks and unwanted veins.

One popular PDL is the Candela V-beam, which uses longer pulses of laser light to target vascular marks more uniformly and with less bruising.

What It's Good For

The pulsed dye laser targets vascular (blood-based or red) lesions, including spider veins on the face, rosacea, port wine stains, birthmarks, and scars.

Patients with the type of rosacea marked by small blood vessels on the surface of the skin can also be helped by PDL therapy.

Recommended Uses
Name Description Cost
Birthmarks Strawberry hemangiomas are treated with pulsed dye lasers, which are effective for treating vascular birthmarks. Port wine stains can also be treated with pulsed dye lasers. If the laser...more On average, a treatment can cost $800 to $1,600.
Facial spider veins Pulsed dye lasers are non-ablative and are available in long and short wavelengths. The 585 nm and the 595 nm pulsed dye laser treat facial spider veins. (Pulsed dye lasers can also treat...more Pulsed Dye Laser treatments costs $150 to $500.
Rosacea Pulsed dye lasers are a good non-ablative treatment for rosacea patients with prominent, swollen blood vessels. Pulsed dye lasers reduce flushing, prominent blood vessels, and persistent...more Pulsed dye laser treatments cost $300 to $1,500 per treatment.
Spider veins Spider veins that appear from the chest up call on lasers with shorter wavelengths. Pulsed dye lasers (PDL; 585 nm) and long pulsed dye lasers (595 nm) have been used to reduce spider veins...more Treatments can cost from $800 to $1,600.
Stretch marks If used early enough, the pulsed dye laser can remove up to 75 percent of stretch marks. The pulsed dye laser only treats newer stretch marks that are red or purple in color. The sooner...more Treatment sessions cost $250 to $500 apiece, or $1,500 to $2,500 for the full treatment.

Who it works for: Undeveloped vascular lesions tend to respond better to treatment than deeper, more mature blood vessels. In other words, the earlier you decide to use the PDL the better. The ideal candidate for PDL has fair to medium skin (Fitzpatrick types I, II, and III).

Recommended age range: Pulsed dye lasers are safe for all age groups. In fact, pulsed dye lasers are used to treat infants who are born with threatening vascular lesions.

When will I see results?: The results of PDL treatments depend on what issues you want to address. A single facial spider vein may be eliminated after one or two sessions.

A port wine stain, which is made up of many blood vessels, will require multiple treatments. The most resistant concerns are hypertrophic scars and keloids.

How long it lasts: Pulsed dye lasers can permanently remove all or most of a vascular lesion. Keep in mind, however, that vascular issues have a tendency to reoccur.

Key benefits of pulsed dye laser: Pulsed dye lasers can lighten vascular markings and scars by 80 percent or more.

Licensed uses: Each pulsed dye laser is approved by the FDA for a specific purpose. Ask your physician which PDL system they plan on using before treatment.

Find experts who offer pulsed dye laser near you