Pulsed Dye Laser

Treatment with pulsed dye laser consists of placing a hand piece against the surface of the skin and activating the laser. Many patients describe each pulse to feel like the snapping of a rubber band against the skin. The patient is provided with protective opaque eye cover or goggles. The treatment is very quick, requiring only about a half hour. The machine releases a cool spray before issuing the laser, providing a more comfortable experience for the patient.

Pulsed Dye Laser Overview - Everything You Need to Know

The Skinny

Pulsed Dye Laser
avg. recovery
2 weeks
Laser/Light Therapy
$400 - $800

About the Procedure

Last Updated: 09.22.2021

A pulsed dye laser is a specialized laser that targets the blood vessels in your skin. The laser passes through your skin and is absorbed as heat by the blood vessels. The heat breaks the blood vessels apart so they can be reabsorbed by your body. Soon the remnants clear away leaving behind a natural skin tone. The pulsed dye laser uses a concentrated beam of light at a wavelength of 595nm, near to the hemoglobin's and oxyhemoglobin's absorption peaks. The high intensity light is therefore absorbed most selectively by blood and blood cells. It is therefore considered the most specific laser currently available for the treatment of superficial vascular lesions. It delivers pulsed laser energy at a wavelength of 595nm that passes through the dermis and epidermis skin layers and is absorbed by the oxyhemoglobin in the blood vessels rather than by the surrounding tissue. The physician should apply laser pulses in a non-overlapping manner to prevent excessive thermal damage (burns) that could result in blistering and scarring.

The goal of a pulsed dye laser treatment is to treat superficial/cutaneous vascular lesions or nonvascular lesions but with vascular structural involvement.

Recovery Notes

Bruising or dark purple appearing skin after treatment is normal. Any bruising fades relatively quickly over a 1-3 week period.

Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate for pulsed dye laser treatment has portwine stains (vascular malformation), rosacea, red striae, hypertrophinc scars, superficial hemangiomas, cherry angiomas, and/or spider veins. The FDA has cleared the PDL for use in treatment of warts, port-wine stains, hemangiomas, hypertrophic scars, and spider veins.

Not Recommended For

Pulsed dye laser treatment is not recommended for use on darker skin tones due to risk of hypopigmentation.

Side Effects

Side effects pulsed dye laser treatments are uncommon but may include blistering, crusting, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, and scarring. The risk of scarring appeared to increase with the number of treatments.


  • remove vascular lesions
  • lighten vascular lesions
  • improve texture of vascular lesions


  • multiple treatments
  • varied results
  • bruising
  • skin discoloration
  • crusting
  • light sensitivity