Doctors historically used surgery, or dermabrasion, to remove psoriasis plaques on the skin. However, it is not currently considered a viable psoriasis treatment option.

Experts deemed surgery ineffective because it only addressed skin changes, not underlying systemic issues. This means it cannot provide long-term symptom relief.

Newer treatments, like laser therapy, show greater promise in managing psoriasis symptoms. This procedure uses focused light to target and destroy overactive skin cells, reducing the appearance of psoriasis plaques.

This article looks at psoriasis surgery, alternatives, and how they can reduce psoriasis symptoms.

Psoriasis surgery was originally a dermabrasion procedure that involved a doctor using abrasive tools or chemicals to remove psoriasis plaques. However, these painful procedures required multiple treatments, often with limited results.

In addition, because psoriasis is a systemic condition, psoriasis surgery did nothing to address the underlying issues. This means that psoriasis plaques would simply grow back.

Doctors no longer use psoriasis surgery as newer, safer treatments have become available.

Laser therapy and light therapy (phototherapy) are now preferred treatments. They target the psoriasis plaques directly, helping calm the immune response and reduce inflammation.

Anyone with psoriasis may benefit from laser and light therapy, particularly those who have not responded well to other treatments.

Different types of phototherapy can effectively treat:

A 2016 review found that twice-weekly excimer laser treatment could improve nail, scalp, and palmoplantar psoriasis symptoms. The studies differed in duration, lasting 4–12 weeks, and had variable amounts of treatment sessions.

However, although phototherapy is a good choice for many people, it does not work for everyone. Anyone who takes medications that make them UV light sensitive, such as certain antibiotics, diuretics, and antifungals, should not undergo the procedure.

It is also not recommended for people with the following:

The recovery time from laser and phototherapy treatments can vary, but they are typically relatively minimal. Furthermore, as laser therapy targets specific areas of the skin, there is usually no risk of widespread skin damage and complications.

Recovery from psoriasis also varies. Sometimes treatment clears psoriasis symptoms, which doctors term “remission.” These symptom-free periods can last for months or years, but most last 1–12 months.

Psoriasis is unpredictable, and knowing who will have remission and how long it will last is impossible. If symptoms return, treatment can help manage them and prevent them from worsening.

After each phototherapy treatment, the skin will be red or pink. This is desirable, and it is not a side effect. It shows that the psoriasis plaques are responding to the treatment.

Some people experience mild or moderate side effects with laser treatment.

In a 2016 study, people received treatment with an XTRAC laser, a type of excimer laser that the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) has approved. The participants tolerated the treatment well and experienced minimal short-term side effects, including:

  • darker areas (hyperpigmentation)
  • blistering
  • itching
  • sunburn sensation
  • blistering
  • erythema, a raised, red rash

People may also experience long-term side effects. These can include freckles and early skin aging, such as age spots and wrinkles. However, working with a dermatologist, who can monitor the skin for any changes, will help minimize any risks.

Laser and phototherapy treatments offer several benefits for people with psoriasis, including the following:

  • Reduced inflammation: By relieving inflammation, laser and phototherapy can help to alleviate itching, redness, and discomfort associated with psoriasis.
  • Slowed skin cell growth: When the overproduction of skin cells slows, it reduces the formation of psoriasis plaques and scaling on the skin.
  • Noninvasive: These treatments do not involve taking medication or making incisions in the skin, which means they have a lower risk of side effects.
  • Safe and effective: Laser and phototherapy are generally safe and effective treatments for psoriasis. They have been used for many years and have a low risk of serious side effects.

It’s important that anyone with psoriasis symptoms, such as skin rashes, dryness, peeling, or itching, contact a doctor for evaluation. They can provide an evaluation and may refer a person to a dermatologist for a more specialized diagnosis and treatment.

A dermatologist can help determine the most appropriate treatment plan for the individual, which may include laser or phototherapy. They can also monitor the condition over time to ensure psoriasis does not worsen.

It’s also important that people contact a doctor if they experience any side effects or complications from psoriasis treatments.

Doctors once used psoriasis surgery to treat psoriasis, but it is no longer considered an effective treatment method. This is because psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition, and simply removing the plaques does not address these underlying issues.

However, many other treatments, including lasers and phototherapy, can help manage psoriasis symptoms. These options are generally safe and effective with minimal side effects.