About Laser Therapy
Tracy Evans, MD, owner and medical director of Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology San Francisco, has extensive experience in performing laser therapy for patients who have been diagnosed with certain types of precancerous lesions. As a board-certified dermatologist and skin cancer specialist, Dr. Evans is dedicated to providing the most innovative and effective treatments for each type of skin cancer, as well as for precancers. Laser therapy, sometimes called laser surgery, is a noninvasive treatment primarily used to reduce or remove actinic keratoses (AKs). AK lesions, which are scaly or crusty spots that form on the skin due to overexposure to UV rays, are considered precancerous because they often develop into squamous cell carcinomas. At Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology San Francisco, Dr. Evans performs laser therapy treatments with a Fraxel laser, which is commonly associated with aesthetic treatments, such as laser skin resurfacing. This laser is a safe and effective way to precisely target the affected skin without harming any surrounding tissue.
Dr. Tracy Evans and her team at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology San Francisco also use innovative Fraxel laser technology for precancerous and scar reduction procedures. A safe and effective laser technology, Fraxel works to carefully penetrate the skin and help to restore collagen for a smoother facial appearance. Contact our San Francisco, CA facility to learn more about Fraxel laser technology and schedule your initial consultation.
Laser Therapy Reviews
"I went to Lauren for my first Botox treatment ever. I wasn't sure what to expect but she explained the process in detail and answered all my questions thoroughly. She also took into consideration my preferences along with her expertise, so I got what I believe is the PERFECT treatment for my face. No one noticed I had anything done unless I mention/point it out to them...just as it should be! Lauren even followed up a week later to see how I was doing and to make sure I was completely happy with my results. She is a true expert and very professional. I would not hesitate to go back to Lauren for any future treatments!"- J.C. / Yelp / May 16, 2018
"I went to Lauren for my first Botox treatment ever. I wasn’t sure what to expect but she explained the process in detail and answered all my questions thoroughly. She also took into consideration my preferences along with her expertise, so I got what I believe is the PERFECT treatment for my face. No one noticed I had anything done unless I mention/point it out to them...just as it should be! Lauren even followed up a week later to see how I was doing and to make sure I was completely happy with my results. She is a true expert and very professional. I would not hesitate to go back to Lauren for any future treatments!"- J.C. / Yelp / May 16, 2018
"I feel extremely fortunate to have found Dr. Evans. She is on every potential skin cancer and has found issues others have ignored. She is through and highly professional.Dr. Evans recently saw both of my teenage sons on short notice to accommodate their school schedules. She was approachable and positive with them. She and the staff provided a very upbeat experience. I recommend her highly for all ages."- J.H. / Yelp / Jan 06, 2016
"I was referred by my dermatologist to Dr Evans for Moh’s surgery for basal cell carcinoma on my nose. Since I had already seen my derm and had biopsy results she immediately scheduled me for the in office surgery. She is trained in this special surgery where the first layer is removed and then her tech prepares a slide for the tissue to be viewed by Dr Evans. If there is still any cancerous tissue she goes back and removes that select area. In my case this occurred but after the second tissue removal all of the carcinoma was removed. This both ensures the least tissue is removed and the highest success rate of other procedures. She was very gentle with the needle when injecting the numbing agent. Fortunately, they were able to remove so little that a graft was not necessary...they just closed it together. She answered all my questions as did her staff. I had some heavy bleeding but she was on top of it. Do expect to spend several hours in the office as they have to prepare the slide after each layer is removed. I had some issues at the pharmacy that evening filling a pain Rx, but she and I text and she had her staff call to assist me. She then even followed up with a phone call as well. My copay for the surgery was only an office copay. When I went back today for the wound check there was no copay--in my experience this is unheard of. I was worried I might have a slight infection so they swabbed it and will culture it and call me with the results. Meanwhile, they suggested the sutures stay in another 3 days. They gave me additional instructions for minimizing the scar. At no time did anyone try to sell me any derm products. I will definitely refer others to Dr Evans. She emphasized the importance of skin cancer checks every 3 months and said she would be willing to do it or I could return to my original Derm (who doesn’t do Moh’s surgery). Thank you Dr Evans and staff for your great care! Update, there is a charge for f/u appointments if the doc sees you. Had 2 such appts due to healing problems. Was sold some special facial soap, but no more expensive than at Walgreens. Both times I was told/encouraged to come back for laser-scar removal."- S.J. / Yelp / Feb 07, 2017
"My experience with Dr Bramlette was nothing short of perfect. She performed a fairly major removal of a skin cancer on my nose, explained clearly what was going on without ever being patronizing.She told me that in 3 months you would barely be able to see the scars and she was right.Do not hesitate to work with her, she is a professional."- J.K. / Yelp / Oct 11, 2010
Laser therapy is most effective for patients who have been diagnosed with actinic keratoses (AK). If you have AK lesions or are concerned that you may have developed AK lesions, we urge you to schedule an exam with Dr. Evans right away.
In some cases, laser therapy can be used as part of the treatment for basal cell carcinomas, but only if they are considered low-risk. During your consultation with Dr. Evans, she will thoroughly examine your areas of concern and will then be able to determine your diagnosis and treatment options.
On the day of your appointment for laser therapy at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology San Francisco, we will apply a topical anesthetic to your treatment area about one hour before we begin. As you wait for your numbing agent to take effect, you can relax in our comfortable treatment room. Dr. Evans will then gently and carefully administer the Fraxel laser to your AK lesion or lesions, which usually takes 15 – 30 minutes, depending on how much surface area needs to be covered. When your treatment is finished, we will apply a nutrient-rich serum and a cooling, hyaluronic mask to your skin to promote healing and hydration. We will then apply bandaging to the area to keep it clean and protected. There is no general anesthetic used for laser therapy so you will be able to safely drive yourself home after your procedure.
What to Expect
After your laser therapy procedure, we will talk you through any skin aftercare you need to follow. You will probably experience a few side effects, such as swelling, crusting, peeling, and some discomfort. These are all normal and will start to dissipate in 3 – 7 days with proper aftercare. Most patients find that they are fully healed within 2 – 3 weeks, though this differs for each person according to the size and placement of the laser treatment. Dr. Evans typically recommends that patients receiving laser therapy for precancerous lesions come back to Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology San Francisco for 3 – 5 sessions spaced 5 – 6 weeks apart.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does laser therapy for actinic keratosis cost?
Like any medical or cosmetic procedure, your costs will depend on the number and size of your treatment area(s). Laser removal of precancerous actinic keratosis (AK) is usually considered a medical procedure so it is commonly covered by insurance. If you want to use your insurance to pay or partially pay for your procedure, be sure to bring your information to your appointment, and we will contact them to determine your benefits and out-of-pocket expense.
What is actinic keratosis?
Actinic keratosis, or AK, is a skin condition in which one or more small lesions appear on skin that has been overexposed to sunlight or UV rays from tanning beds. The lesions associated with AK are typically crusty or scaly and can be pink, red, tan, brown, or flesh-colored. Often, these lesions itch and can crack and bleed. AK is not skin cancer; however, it often becomes squamous cell carcinoma, which is a type of skin cancer.
Does laser therapy hurt?
During your procedure, your treatment area will have been thoroughly numbed with a topical cream for your maximum comfort. After the procedure, many patients do report feeling slight discomfort, but it is usually easily managed with OTC pain medication.
Do I have to prepare for laser therapy?
Before your laser therapy appointment, Dr. Evans may ask you to stop using any OTC products that can reduce blood clotting, such as ibuprofen or Vitamin E. Depending on the size and stage of your AK, Dr. Evans may prescribe a topical or oral retinoid to use for 1 – 2 weeks prior to treatment.
Isn’t Fraxel a cosmetic laser?
While the Fraxel laser is commonly known as a cosmetic treatment, it is FDA approved for the treatment of actinic keratosis. When used to reduce or remove AK, Fraxel works in much the same way as it does for cosmetic purposes, like skin resurfacing. The laser is able to penetrate the skin to strategically destroy specific skin cells while also triggering collagen production and the growth of healthy new skin.
zap your actinic keratosis
Laser therapy is one of the most common treatments to remove or reduce actinic keratosis lesions from the skin. While AK lesions are not cancerous, they are known to generally develop into squamous cell carcinoma so seeking treatment as soon as you notice them is very important for the prevention of skin cancer. If you have AK or suspect that you do, we recommend that you schedule a skin exam at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology San Francisco right away so Dr. Evans can get started on this effective treatment.