- Laser resurfacing
Laser resurfacing is a technique used during
laser surgerywherein molecular bondsof a material are dissolved by a laser. It is used for the treatment of wrinkles, solar lentigenes, sun damage, scars (see acne scar treatment), stretch marks, actinic keratosisand telangiectasias or "spider veins" - a symptom of ataxia telangiectasia.
It can be combined with
liposuctionwhen this is done to remove excess fat from the chin and jaw area. The skin may be wrinkled after fat is removed and laser resurfacing can help tighten and smooth over the new contours.
Laser resurfacing is usually done with an Er:YAG
2940nm wavelengthor CO2 10,600nmwavelength laser. Complete resurfacing was first done with a CO2 laser. More commonly now, a laser resurfacing is done with a fractional laser. The term fractional pertains to the method in which the laser light is transferred. Tiny pinpoints of laser light are used to deliver the laser to the surface of the skin in only a fraction of the area. Several hundred or thousands of pinpoints may be used per square inch, leaving healthy skin in between the ablated areas. This allows more rapid healing, and less risk.
The newest and most advanced types of laser resurfacing are with Radio Frequency (Syneron Matrix RF),
Erbium(Er:YAG) Fractional (Sciton Profractional) and CO2 fractional (Fraxel Repair) lasers. The newest versions remove skin very precisely, layer by layer, using very short pulsed light energy or continuous light beams that are delivered in a scanning pattern to precisely remove thin layers of skin with minimal heat damage to the surrounding structures.
Skin resurfacing can also be performed with a plasma based device instead of a laser. At least one manufacturer of such a plasma device claims "It’s the only treatment proven to generate new skin – at the fundamental levels - for as long as a year after treatment". However these claims do not have supporting evidence published in a peer reviewed medical journal, and have not been verified by any independently funded studies. Superiority to laser based devices remains an open question.
Fractional photothermolysis is another form of laser treatment with several devices currently on the market including Matrix RF, Fraxel Laser, Pixel, Lux1540, and Affirm. Some doctors claim FP provides similar results to carbon dioxide laser resurfacing without risk of scarring or significant downtime. As of January 2008, there are a number of papers referenced on
Pub Medwhich mostly support those claims. Complications observed in a study of 961 treatments included acneiform eruptions (1.87%) and herpes simplex virus outbreaks (1.77%). Side effects and complications observed in this study were of a temporary nature [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=18190541 PMID 18190541] . There have been, however, anecdotal negative accounts of bad scarring and hyperpigmentation without any findings of infection [http://www.realself.com/review/fraxel-laser-horrible] .
When compared to a chemical peel, dermabrasion or other forms of laser treatment, a laser allows the surgeon to customize the surgery not only for each patient but also to each area of the face.
Co2 laser resurfacing has been shown to have an increased risk of hypo pigmentation and scarring when compared to the erbium lasers. This is due to the high degree of coagulation and thus heat production that occurs as a nature of the Co2 wavelength. Both Erbium and Co2 fractional systems have a better safety profile than lasers of the past.
While both Erbium and CO2 have their advantages and disadvantages, both can perform exceptionally well with the treatment of deep rhytides, sun damage and age spots. Through the heating of the deep dermis, fibroblasts are stimulated to form new collagen and elastin helping to bring increased turgor and thickness to the skin.
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