Lasers and related 'intense pulsed light' (IPL) devices are increasingly being used to treat people with skin conditions in NHS dermatology and plastic surgery units, private hospitals and clinics, and cosmetic salons. Typical targets for such treatments include conditions involving excessive blood vessels (e.g. port-wine stains), pigment (e.g. tattoos), inflammatory lesions (e.g. psoriasis), scars, excess hair, tumours and wrinkles.1 This broad and expanding range of uses raises questions about the effectiveness, safety and appropriateness of laser and IPL treatment. Here we consider these and other key issues in the use of these techniques to treat patients with skin problems.
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