New Micro Fractional CO2 Laser Offers Real Results
Article by Amiya Prasad, MD
New York Oculoplastic Surgeon
We are all familiar with the obvious signs of aging. Close your eyes and imagine someone you know who has decided not to slow down the aging process. The drooping skin, the forehead wrinkles, the jowls and lost jaw line are what you would expect to see. However, there are more subtle signs that plague people but are not often appreciated as an aging problem.
In the past, treatments have involved peels and lasers. Unfortunately a compromise had to be made between the desired result and the amount of downtime a patient could tolerate. The rule of thumb was that the more dramatic the desired result, the deeper into the skin the treatment had to be. Therefore the time to heal before significant rejuvenation occurred could take several weeks. Most people live very busy lives and they have no more than a week to ten days before having to resume normal life.
In response to the need for shorter downtime, several “revolutionary technologies” came out which offered non invasive procedures to miraculously restore your youth. The problem was that most patients required a long series of treatments and suffered through uncomfortable heating of the skin. The reasons some of these treatments endured was that most people noticed immediate improvement while they were still swollen. However, after the healing, the procedures resulted in disappointment from both the patient and the physicians.
Despite the hype and the practically daily press releases meant to compel physicians, there was not enough valid scientific evidence that these revolutionary technologies actually made a difference. How did this happen? Medical technology and pharmaceutical companies work in insidious ways to manipulate data so that a busy physician may be easily fooled. The companies pay recognized experts to be spokespersons and refer to them as “thought leaders” who present at large medical conferences. A little “Orwellian” for you? In order to get around this strategy, a specialist has to do his own investigating and rely on this principle: the science must be sound for the technology to work. It’s that simple.
In the mid nineties, the “new” CO2 laser was hyped as a cure for wrinkles that would eliminate the need for facelifts. My personal experience with the laser revealed that it required clinical judgment and finesse in order to work properly. Unfortunately, the laser companies sold these CO2 lasers to physicians with varying backgrounds and experience so that the rate of complications went up and the popularity of the laser went down. There was, however, no doubt that the CO2 laser when used properly, helped to significantly smooth fine wrinkles such as those around the lips (lipstick lines/smoker’s lines) and crow’s feet lines around the eyes. The downside of this procedure was a prolonged healing process which made it unpopular with patients.
The New Fractional CO2 laser was reintroduced as an improved modality in the late 2000s with a much shorter downtime and a unique feature that minimized the discomfort apparent in previous models. After conducting my own research on the different types of CO2 Laser models, I selected the Mixto SX Micro Fractional CO2 laser. Their technology seemed most appropriate for busy people who want healthy, younger looking skin with minimal discomfort in a short period of time. The Mixto SX fractional CO2 Laser uses a computerized pattern generator and a new, efficient scanning algorithm (program) so that heat is dispersed within the epidermis while evenly treating damaged areas. This particular algorithm effectively reduces discomfort, the need for anesthesia, and recovery time. A single treatment can show dramatic improvement in skin texture and color and leave it smooth, firm and even-toned.
The new CO2 Laser technology is particularly effective for treatment of skin conditions such as fine and coarse wrinkles, raised or unsightly scars, uneven pigmentation and dilated pores. Based on well established research over 25 years, the technology uses a beam of mixed light that is filtered through CO2 and isolates specific wavelengths that comes into contact with the epidermis (skin). The light beam heats and vaporizes the skin tissue and instantly removes superficial layers, scars and wrinkles while smoothing out the surface of the skin. The resultant remodeling in the deeper layers stimulates new collagen growth which yields firmer and more glowing skin.
In my practice, the MiXto SX has been very successful in helping patients who are not ready for a facelift. Since, the laser rejuvenates by virtue of improving the tone and luster of the skin, it can refresh the face by leveling out small to medium sized wrinkles. A good analogy would be to imagine how you would refurbish a tent. You can repair damaged fabric which would be similar to a laser treatment or you can get a whole new frame on which to stretch it over which would be similar to getting a facelift.
Depending on an individual patient’s aging changes, a common combination is to rejuvenate the face with the laser and perform an eyelift procedure at the same time. This has made many of my patients look at least ten years younger. Laser technology is safe to use during facelift surgery, so patients now enjoy a smoother jaw line and neck from the surgery and trade in fine wrinkles for glowing skin from the laser. Patients who have had a facelift within the past few years have come in for CO2 laser treatment and look refreshed without having another surgical procedure.
Another very important application of laser therapy is to rejuvenate the hands. The youth restoring process is incomplete without addressing this issue since older hands are a “give away” when a person’s face looks young and the hands look “old”. Using the laser in conjunction with fillers for the hands have been a well kept secret to keep my patients looking their best and maintaining their self confidence.
With the advent of the new millennium, our dependence and excitement over the next best technological breakthrough has taken off at a sometimes break-neck speed. It is a genuinely exhilarating period in which we live. Novel technological applications are available to people inspired to preserve their youth and natural good looks. The best advice is to make sure that you do careful research and seek out a surgeon who is well versed in available rejuvenation modalities and will intelligently discuss the best choice for you.