Laser and Reconstructive Surgery Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are “cosmetic” procedures reimbursed by insurance companies?
Procedures considered “cosmetic” by the insurance companies are NOT covered by insurance companies. These include laser treatments of “brown spots,” freckles, tattoos, hair removal, scars, and “broken blood vessels” such as telangiectasia and spider angioma. Sclerotherapy (spider vein treatments) are also considered “cosmetic” by the insurance companies.

Q: Are laser and surgical procedures performed at the initial visits?
No. All new patients require an initial consultation to enable the physician to evaluate and examine the skin, diagnose the skin lesion(s) and ultimately, plan and discuss the procedure(s) with the patient, in detail.

Q: Are lasers dangerous? Who should use them?
Like many other medical devices, lasers should only be used by individuals who are trained in indications for their appropriate use, fully versed in the technology (including safety), and of course, highly experienced in the field of application. As a medical procedure, skin laser surgery should properly be performed by physicians with dermatological training.

Q: Is general anesthesia necessary?
No. While several practitioners do use it, general anesthesia would appear to be a matter of individual preference rather than essential. While its safety record is very good, general anesthesia is not a frivolous undertaking. Other techniques of anesthesia are available and are routinely used in this practice: e.g. topical anesthesia, cryo-anesthesia and local nerve blocks. Dr. Oon Tian Tan, who has had the longest clinical experience of any physician with this new generation of lasers, has not used general anesthesia in the treatment of thousands of patients.

Q: There seem to be a lot of different lasers. Is there a “best one”?
Indeed there is much confusion about this and even in the medical profession, there is not unanimity. How, then, does a patient get unbiased information? There would seem to be two routes. In one approach, patients decide to educate themselves. The wide availability of medical literature databases has allowed many patients to examine the last decade of published research and approach the physician as informed consumers. As an alternative, the patient can contact those national organizations and charities which have impartial information.

Q: What is laser skin therapy?
The last ten years has seen a revolution in techniques for treating certain congenital and chronic skin problems headed by a new generation of lasers.
A key feature has been selectivity - the effective removal of the lesions without unnecessary damage to surrounding structures. This has resulted in:

  1. minimal scarring
  2. the treated skin appearing “normal” in texture and color

Previous lasers, and even some currently being used, do not have this degree of safety. Laser treatment of Portwine stain birthmarks in children with the pulsed dye laser has been most predominantly featured but this represents only one of the successes. Now, several skin problems, congenital and acquired, medical and cosmetic, in young and old, can all be treated by lasers.

Q: What is the recovery like following laser treatments?
A: The post-operative recovery following laser treatments will vary according to the laser used. Some laser treatments will leave minimal skin changes, allowing you to return to your normal life immediately following the treatments while others will require some “down time.” The details of the different recovery periods will be discussed with you at your initial consultation.

Q. Are procedures (such as laser, surgery, cosmetic) preformed at the initial appointment?
No. All new patients require an initial consultation (meaning no procedures are carried out) to enable Dr. Tan to evaluate and examine the skin, diagnose any issues and ultimately, plan and discuss in detail possible treatment methods.