Is Laser For Rosacea Covered By Insurance

Rosacea is a very common skin condition that affects the face and eyes. It may also affect your nose, chin, forehead or ears. Rosacea causes redness in the center of your face which can worsen with exposure to sunlight, heat and certain medications. If you suffer from rosacea and have been looking for an economical treatment option that does not compromise effectiveness or cause side effects, laser therapy may be a good option for you.

Diode lasers – These are low energy devices that only target dark colored hair because they aren’t effective on light colored hairs. They’re ideal for treating small areas such as those found on the face, bikini line or underarms. They’re also suitable for treating larger areas such as the legs but only if they have a uniform coloration (ie all dark).

Read on to learn more about Is Laser For Rosacea Covered By Insurance, Laser Treatment For Rosacea Side Effects.

Is Laser For Rosacea Covered By Insurance

Rosacea is an inflammatory condition that makes the blood vessels on your face visible. Doctors aren’t sure what causes it, but they suspect that genes, mites, bacteria, and sun damage play roles.

If you have rosacea, you may also get symptoms like:

  • Flushed cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead
  • Small, acne-like bumps on your face
  • Patches of dry skin
  • Enlarged pores
  • Swollen nose
  • Bumps on your eyelids
  • Problems with seeing
  • Eye problems such as red, itchy eyes, and swollen eyelids

Rosacea often runs in families and is more common if you:

  • Have or had severe acne
  • Smoke
  • Are female
  • Are between 30 and 50 years old
  • Have fair hair, light skin, and light eyes 

There’s no real cure for rosacea, but doctors prescribe certain medications to treat symptoms:

  • Azelaic acid, which comes in gel and foam forms and clears up redness and bumps
  • Topical antibiotics like doxycycline and metronidazole, which kill bacteria and suppress swelling and redness
  • Isotretinoin, an acne drug that can help get rid of skin bumps
  • Antibiotics you take by mouth, such as tetracycline

Laser Treatments for Rosacea

In recent years, doctors have started using laser treatments to treat rosacea. 

Generally, people with rosacea try laser therapy only after other treatments don’t work for them. Keep in mind that laser treatment may not be the best option for you. Speak to your doctor before deciding how you should treat your rosacea.

If you choose to use laser treatments, your doctor will use the laser’s heat to collapse your visible blood vessels so they’re no longer visible. This bloodless and mostly painless treatment can greatly reduce redness, thick skin, and visible blood vessels.

The most common types of laser treatments include:

CO2 (Ablative) Laser

  • Used to treat rhinophyma (bumps or thickened skin on your nose) caused by rosacea
  • Has the ability to reshape your nose by removing the thin outer layer of skin and heating the underlying skin to stimulate the growth of new skin

Pulsed-Dye Laser

  • Also known as V-Star and Cynosure
  • Doctors use light to lower inflammation caused by visible blood vessels
  • Red blood cells absorb the laser, which destroys the lining of visible and inflamed blood vessels

YAG Laser

  • Targets visible blood vessels
  • Whittles down excess tissue that can make your nose look bulbous
  • Shrinks pores

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy

  • This type of therapy is not a true form of laser treatment. Instead, it uses multiple wavelengths of light to target red areas on your skin.
  • It can get rid of uneven patches of pigmentation on your skin and reduce redness.

Price of Laser Treatment for Rosacea

Laser treatment for rosacea can be expensive, especially since you’ll probably need to have several sessions.

The cost also varies depending on the severity of your rosacea symptoms. The more severe your symptoms, the more sessions you’ll probably need. Typically, people with rosacea need anywhere from two to eight sessions spaced around 6 weeks apart for the best results.

How Effective Are Laser Treatments for Rosacea?

Laser treatments are a good alternative to the medications doctors usually prescribe for rosacea.

In one study, 50% of participants had improved symptoms after going through YAG laser treatment.

Another study showed how pulsed-dye laser therapy for rosacea was “worthwhile” for all the study’s participants. The mean score for overall improvement was 4.4 out of 5 as judged by the participants themselves and 4.3 out of 5 as assessed by close friends or family members of the participants.

A 2008 study also showed the effectiveness of intense pulsed light therapy in reducing flushing and other symptoms of rosacea. Specifically, more than 50% of improvement was observed for the vast majority of participants.

In addition to reducing redness and other symptoms, laser treatments can:

  • Ease skin irritation
  • Make your skin smoother
  • Boost collagen production in your body, which can make your skin more elastic and reduce wrinkles

Rosacea/Insurance

There are still many insurance companies that refuse to cover Laser/IPL treatments because they view rosacea as a “cosmetic concern”. Here are some simple steps taken by previous rosacea sufferers to get insurance to reimburse both fully or partly.

Ring up your insurer and ask if it will be covered. Even if your insurance company will cover the procedures, they usually require pre-certification outlining the number of treatments and type of laser. Prepare a submission outlying your rosacea symptoms and how they affect and limit your lifestyle. Get photos of your severe flushing so the insurance company can see what you are really dealing with. Include peer-reviewed articles photocopied from books or medical journals or printed from the Internet.

The following symptoms are viewed as cosmetic (less important): Papules, pustles, redness and visible telangiectasias. The following are not cosmetic (more important): Flushing, blushing, burning, itching, facial swelling and pain.

Other major points to include:

  • A letter of medical necessity from a physician in your plan including the CPT code for the procedure. (It was 17108 in 2003)
  • A list of all other remedies you have tried (antibiotics, prescription topicals, diet and lifestyle changes, etc)
  • In your letter explain that when lasers are used for cosmetic purposes the settings are different than when treating rosacea.
  • As of 2004 many Laser/IPL machines are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States.
  • If it is not treated it will progress into more advances stages
  • You may be able to stop taking current rosacea medications after the Laser/IPL treatments

Laser Treatment For Rosacea Side Effects

There are many medications available today to treat rosacea. But medication doesn’t work for all symptoms—especially redness and flushing, as well as skin thickening around the nose. If you’ve been struggling with these symptoms, laser treatment may be an option. It’s provided dramatic results for some people who have these two difficult-to-treat rosacea symptoms.

How Lasers Calm the Redness

Although different types of lasers can be used to treat a red rosacea complexion, one of the most common and effective is the pulsed dye laser (PDL). Red blood cells absorb this laser, which then destroys the lining of inflamed and obvious blood vessels.

“Targeting these visible blood vessels can greatly reduce redness and flushing,” explains Sanusi Umar, M.D., who heads up FineTouch Dermatology, a practice with locations in Redondo Beach and Beverly Hills, California. “Laser treatment isn’t a cure for rosacea, but many patients see results for months or even years after treatment.”

What to Expect

Typically, laser therapy requires a series of treatments to see results. You may need anywhere from two to eight treatments, which are spaced about six weeks apart.

“Depending on severity of symptoms, skin type, and other factors, people respond to laser treatment differently. Some need only a few treatments. Others may require more,” says Dr. Umar. “It’s important to find a dermatologist who is experienced and skilled in laser surgery and can tailor treatment to your specific condition and needs.”

How Effective Is It?

Most patients report that laser treatment helps reduce visible blood vessels, flushing, and redness. In fact, a recent study found that people with rosacea undergoing laser therapy saw a 40 to 60 percent improvement in these symptoms after the second treatment.  

“Just remember that laser treatment is not a cure for the disease. It permanently targets the symptoms that are visible at the time of treatment,” says Dr. Umar. “However, it’s not uncommon for some new blood vessels to appear down the line, which may require follow-up care.” 

Giving New Shape to the Nose

Lasers used to treat excess or thickened skin on or around the nose are different from those used to treat redness. Many dermatologists use a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser, which contours the nose by eliminating excess tissue. The laser works by targeting water in the excess tissue.

Most patients need at least two or three treatment sessions, which are performed four to eight weeks apart. And the results can be significant, smoothing the skin by safely removing excess tissue. However, if you’re experiencing this rosacea symptom, don’t postpone talking with a dermatologist. Those who seek treatment soon after noticing symptoms have the best results. The more advanced the problem, the more difficult it is to treat.

The Side Effects of Laser Treatment

Side effects from both types of laser treatments are typically minimal. You may find that you’re red, swollen, and sore the day after treatment. Some people may have temporary bruising for a week or two. In some cases, crusting, discoloration, or scarring can occur.

After getting laser treatment, you may get these common side effects:

  • Increased redness, which will fade within 2 weeks
  • Rashes
  • Itchiness
  • Skin tightness 
  • Mild bruising

Laser treatment is largely painless, although some people may have mild bruising or other symptoms listed above. If these symptoms last for more than a few days or you feel like your skin is burning after laser treatment, contact your doctor right away.

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