During March 2007, staff at the Wessex Specialist Laser Centre were delighted to be presented with a skin cooling system by the League of Friends to aid the discomfort of patients undergoing skin laser therapy.
Cold air cooling is used to help control the discomfort and thermal damage that can be experienced during laser treatment. It is applied as jet of cool air directed at the areas to be treated through a hose that can be held by either the treating practitioner or the patient and , in some instances, can be attached to the laser itself. The Cryo 6 cooling system purchased by the League of Friends is designed to minimise the pain and thermal injury caused during laser treatments by reducing the room temperature.
A pilot study has been carried out within the Laser Centre to assess the acceptability of skin cooling during laser treatment. Although most patient groups attending the Laser Centre can benefit from skin cooling, we investigated female patients receiving laser treatment to remove distressing facial hair resulting from hormonal imbalances suc as polycystic ovary syndrome. The average perception of pain experienced by 17 patients reduced significantly from 3.2 out of 10 to 1.1 out of 10 (two tailed paired t test). These are clearly encouraging results although we are sure they just represent the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in terms of applicability of this technology.
The use of skin cooling at the Laser Centre has also reduced the need of some patients to have topical local anaesthetic creams applied. This has the added benefit of reducing treatment time for the patient by approximately one hour – the time to allow the topical cream to work. Some patients, even children, now opt to have laser treatment with the aid of skin cooling, in preference to general anaesthesia, thereby negating the risk and complications attached to general anaesthetic and allowing faster return to normal after treatment. This is also beneficial to the Trust in terms of reducing treatment costs and reducing the waiting list for general anaesthetic laser treatment.
Sue Royston, Sister