NINE LASERS TO ASK YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT FOR YOUNGER-LOOKING SKIN
Article by Joshua L. Fox, MD
Long Island Dermatologic Surgeon
Diet, exercise and healthier living may make us feel younger but too often our skin tells the true tale of our age, despite our best efforts to mitigate the damage to our skin that can make us look much older over time. Aging skin, with its “loose” feel, sagging, fine lines, enlarged pores, sallow complexion, and creases — is caused by many factors, including too much sun with too little sunscreen, wind, cold and pollution, plus cigarette smoke, stress, poor nutrition, facial contortions, and alcohol, among other things.
While many people still opt for invasive techniques like surgical face lifts, aggressive resurfacing, or deep chemical peels to combat the signs of aging skin, many are now turning to minimally invasive procedures to rejuvenate facial skin and take years off that image in the mirror. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, minimally invasive cosmetic procedures for the face increased considerably in 2007, with laser skin resurfacing treatments increasing by one-third over the prior year. These treatments increased by more than 100% from 2000 through 2007. In addition, members of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgeons report that of the top five most performed non-invasive procedures at their practices, the estimated percentage increase from 2002 to 2007 was highest for laser resurfacing, at more than 128%.
One key reason that the number of these procedures has increased so dramatically is the development of high-energy, extremely accurate lasers which have enhanced the ability of physicians to improve sun-damaged skin, scars, wrinkles, brown spots and other conditions with minimal to no downtime.
“These new laser skin resurfacing techniques can take years off your appearance” says Joshua Fox, M.D., a leading dermatologist and founder of Advanced Dermatology and The Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery. “Our patients typically see a significant improvement in the look and feel of their skin. In addition they see fewer wrinkles. Laser skin rejuvenation can be done in one to just a few treatments, depending on the technology, and patients are able to return quickly to their normal activities.”
Dr. Fox lists nine revolutionary laser technologies that have changed the way physicians can help their patients improve their aging skin. They are:
1.• Fraxel®. This multiple treatment approach requires no preparation for the patients, who simply get a topical anesthetic and feel light pressure during this safe and gradual laser procedure that stimulates the body to replace aged and photo-damaged skin. It also shrinks the pores and is the first and only laser approved for treatment of the discoloration of melasma. It can be used throughout the body. Although there is some redness, most go right back to work.
2.• Thermage®. Non-invasive and not truly a laser, Thermage uses a radio-frequency unit to tighten and lift skin without any of the downtime of a surgical face lift. A gradual effect is seen over a couple of weeks, allowing patients to be confident that no one will know they had any work done. It is used most often to lessen joules and nasolabial folds but has been used on eyes, cheeks and the body also.
3.• Pixel® Fractional CO2. An updated CO2 laser with new technology to be less aggressive and results in much less patient down-time. The physician tailors the skin resurfacing procedure to each person’s unique needs. The pixel technology can be used on light, medium and deep settings depending on the amount of improvement and the number of days for complete rehabilitation along with the number of treatments desired. It does not have the previous CO2’s high risk of discoloration, long healing times and prolonged erythema. It still offers some skin tightening benefits which increases with a second or third treatment. The results can be quite dramatic.
4.• Medlite Peel®. This laser’s dual wavelengths can be used to rejuvenate the skin from acne scars and lip wrinkles to eliminating the blotchy discolorations and age spots on the face. The “peel” technique, often gives a person fresh new skin and may lessen under eye dark lines and facial age spots. The rejuvenation alone has no down-time while the laser peel will require extensive makeup to cover the one-to-two weeks of facial peeling. Many work throughout this healing time.
5.• Smoothbeam®. This deep penetrating laser is helpful on all skin types to lessen acne scarring and in promoting collagen production for some wrinkles. There is no down-time so it is a patient-favorite among the practice. It requires several treatments to achieve the most positive results.
6.• IPL laser therapy. Not officially a laser it is a process called photo-rejuvenation for the face and body, IPL improves the appearance of photo-aged skin, removes age spots (sun-induced freckles), most benign brown pigments and redness caused by broken capillaries with essentially no down-time. It requires multiple treatments and its wavelengths are less specific than a laser.
7.• Gentlelase/APOGEE lasers. These lasers’ 755 nm Alexandrite wavelengths are highly absorbed by melanin, making it a top choice for removing unwanted pigmented hair with minimal to no pain and may even help epidermal pigmented lesions such as age spots, sun spots and freckles. There is no down-time.
8.• V-Beam. These lasers work by focusing a beam of light to a target in the skin such as enlarged blood vessels or hemangeoma, thus removing the vessels and irregularities without scarring and lessening the risk of bleeding. There is mild redness and swelling but one can go back to work usually within the next day or so. It is also helpful for scars, stretchmarks and facial rejuvenation.
9.• Erbium Laser. One of the latest tools available for the treatment of wrinkles, acne scars, aged and sun-damaged skin, the Erbium is a cool light laser that resurfaces the skin. This method results in less post-procedure redness, less swelling and faster healing time and much less risk of side effect than with other strong laser skin resurfacing methods. The Erbium laser can be used on the face, neck, chest and hands. You can expect up to a several days of down-time from this procedure depending on the depth of the peel. People say how smooth and fresh their skin looks and feels.
“Patients should speak to their physicians about their specific age and environmentally-caused skin concerns,” Dr. Fox says. “By using one or more of these new laser skin rejuvenation methods, healthy, active adults can now look as young as they feel. We have found that by mixing the lasers together we are able to achieve the best results for our patients.”