ASDS: Laser, light and energy devices in demand

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An array of laser, light and energy-based devices used by dermatologic surgeons to treat everything from sun-damaged skin to acne scars remains the top cosmetic procedure category for the fourth year in a row, new survey results show.

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An array of laser, light and energy-based devices used by dermatologic surgeons to treat everything from sun-damaged skin to acne scars remains the top cosmetic procedure category for the fourth year in a row, new survey results show.

Members of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery performed more than 2.7 million procedures using lasers, lights and energy-based devices in 2014, according to the ASDS Survey on Dermatologic Procedures.

Patients continue to recognize that these procedures are effective and convenient, said ASDS President George J. Hruza, MD, MBA.

“Lasers and other energy sources have become very good for many indications with minimal downtime and minimal pain associated with the procedures,” Hruza said. “Hair removal, tattoo removal, sun-damage repair, wrinkle and scar improvement, brown spot and broken blood vessel fading, fat reductions and skin tightening are all indications that can be effectively treated with laser and energy sources.”

The top treatment areas of the more than a dozen cosmetic uses in 2014 were:

  • Hair removal: 633,000
  • Facial redness: 428,000
  • Photo rejuvenation: 329,000
  • Photodynamic therapy: 311,000
  • Age spots: 224,000

Laser hair removal utilizes beams of highly concentrated light designed to selectively penetrate into the hair follicles, be absorbed by the pigment and to destroy the hair within that hair follicle. The procedure was originally recommended for dark hairs on light skin, but Hruza said newer technologies have made it safer and more effective for patients with a range of complexions and hair colors.

Facial redness can be treated with an intense, gentle beam of light. Procedures can counteract rosacea, broken blood vessels from sun damage, seborrhea and acne.

Photo rejuvenation offers a non-invasive solution for treating benign skin conditions that can be tailored to patients’ specific skin type. Pulses of light convert to heat energy, correcting dark spots and broken veins and capillaries.

Photodynamic therapy utilizes a photosensitive drug and light source to treat malignant or benign diseases.

One of the fastest-growing procedures is tattoo removal (109,641 performed in 2014), up 74 percent since 2012. The development of picosecond lasers that are more effective and less painful than previous, nanosecond laser technology has prompted many consumers to give tattoo removal procedures more serious consideration, according to Hruza.

Physicians should be appropriately trained in the physics, safety and surgical techniques involved in the use of energy devices capable of damaging living tissue, according to a Board-approved position statement from the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association. Hruza said the trust patients are showing in ASDS members to perform device-based procedures is well-earned.

“Dermatologic surgeons are board certified in dermatology and are the skin experts,” Hruza said. “ASDS members have been at the lead of laser and other energy source development for the treatment of various skin conditions. We are the experts, and patients realize that.”

About the ASDS Survey on Dermatologic Procedures
Data were collected for the 2014 experience and generalized to represent all ASDS members. The survey was conducted Jan. 2 to Feb. 6, 2015, for data reported in 2014. The survey link was sent to 3,980 practicing members. Survey results are reported based on 826 physicians, or a 21 percent response rate.

About ASDS
The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery is the largest specialty organization exclusively representing dermatologic surgeons who have unique training and experience to treat the health, function and beauty of your skin. ASDS members are pioneers in the field. Many are involved in the clinical studies that bring popular treatments to revitalize skin and fill and diminish wrinkles to the forefront. Their work has helped create and enhance many of the devices that remove blemishes, hair and fat, and tighten skin. Dermatologic surgeons also are experts in skin cancer prevention, detection and treatment. As the incidence of skin cancer rises, dermatologic surgeons are committed to taking steps to minimize the life-threatening effects of this disease. For more information, visit

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Jay Schwab
Communications Manager
American Society for Dermatologic Surgery

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