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Scotty: Plastic Surgeons Find Better Results and Fewer Complications With
New Laser Treatments
(press release from ASAPS)
New York, NY * October 6,
2005 * Better results, fewer complications and shorter recovery time are the
goal of the new generation of laser treatments for skin, excessive body hair
and unpleasing facial and leg veins according to an article recently
published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal (ASJ).
"The use of lasers has expanded not only in scope, but in the number of
patients treated and the range of equipment available to physicians"
according to Barry DiBernardo, MD, author of the article titled: "Clinically
Relevant Lasers for the Plastic Surgeon". "New lasers allow more energy to
be released into the skin so that the overall treatment is more effective
with fewer side effects," says Dr. DiBernardo, who practices in Montclair,
NJ, and is a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS)
Nonsurgical Procedure Committee.
Often laser treatments are one part of a comprehensive approach to facial
rejuvenation. Laser procedures are often done in conjunction with another
cosmetic operation, such as a facelift or eyelid surgery. Skin care
maintenance can also be prescribed to compliment the laser procedure.
Various laser treatments have emerged over time to treat a variety of skin
issues. ASAPS, the leading society of plastic surgeons who specialize in
aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery, offers this information summarizing the
current available information:
Ablative lasers -- The effects of skin resurfacing using a carbon
dioxide (CO2) laser are similar to those of chemical peels and dermabrasion,
except that the laser removes skin layers by vaporization rather than with
chemicals or a sanding device. In laser skin resurfacing a laser is used to
remove areas of damaged or wrinkled skin, layer by layer. The procedure is
most commonly used to minimize the appearance of fine lines, especially
around the mouth and the eyes. However, it is also effective in treating
facial scars or areas of uneven pigmentation. Laser resurfacing may be
performed on the whole face or in specific regions.
Nonablative lasers -- New laser technology has impacted cosmetic
surgery in the past decade. A new group of non-ablative skin lasers
developed within the last five years work beneath the surface skin layer
utilizing short pulses of light to reduce wrinkles and sun damage, freckles
and irregular pigmentation, as well as redness and dilated capillaries
commonly associated with rosacea. They build new collagen while improving
skin tone, texture, fine lines and scars. Some of the first of the
non-ablative generation of lasers included the Cool Touch I or II, the
Medlite and the N-Lite. Newer non-ablative technologies include; Thermage
which utilizes a radio frequency instead of laser energy to heat the dermis
(the inner layer of skin) while cooling and protecting the epidermis (the
outer layer) and the Titan laser which uses laser energy to non-ablatively
tighten the face and other parts of the body.
Besides fighting wrinkles, the non-ablative lasers are fast becoming the
hottest new acne fighting tool. Using the non-ablative laser for acne, it
alters the size and function of the overactive sebaceous gland. It also uses
its heat to kill bacteria, paving the way for clearer skin. Also, by being
able to build collagen at the same time, it helps acne scarring. By adding a
topical medication to the skin called photo-dynamic therapy the
effectiveness of the acne treatment is enhanced by also reducing the
oiliness of the skin.
Fraxel Lasers -- While non-ablative lasers are popular and demand for
them is growing, competition is coming to the market in the form of Fraxel
lasers. Non-ablative resurfacing requires a cooling system to avoid visible
skin damage which makes it difficult to achieve benefits optimal
resurfacing. Also, the intensity of non-ablative resurfacing treatment has
to be reduced to prevent scarring. With Fractional Resurfacing Technology, a
new ablative technology, only a fraction of the skin receives the laser
light. The laser delivers a series of microscopic closely spaced laser spots
to the skin while simultaneously preserving normal healthy skin between the
laser spots. This preservation of healthy skin results in rapid healing
following the laser treatment. Fraxel lasers strive to achieve the skin
improvements obtained with ablative lasers without the associated side
effects or downtime.
Laser Hair Removal -- Unwanted, excess hair is a concern for men and
women, particularly among ethnic populations. Recently, laser improvements
have made it possible to effectively treat patients with darker skin types,
such as African-American, Native American, Hispanics, and Asian
Costs for laser surgery range from several hundred to several thousand
dollars, and because it is cosmetic, insurance companies generally don't pay
for it. Still, insurance coverage varies according to the carrier and the
nature of the medical problem. Patients should consult their insurance
carrier to determine if a procedure is covered by their policy.
When laser resurfacing is performed by a qualified, experienced surgeon,
complications are infrequent and usually minor. However, because individuals
vary greatly in their anatomy, their physical reactions and their healing
abilities, the outcome is never completely predictable. Patients can reduce
their risks by choosing a qualified plastic surgeon who has received special
training in laser surgery.
The take-home message for consumers says Dr. DiBernardo, is "do your
homework and become educated before undergoing any procedure." While laser
surgery is generally not painful, patients may experience mild discomfort
In the future, lasers will result in shorter recovery times, fewer side
effects, and better patient outcomes. The goal, DiBernardo says, is to
design lasers that are extremely safe and gentle for the patient.
According to ASAPS statistics over 1.4 million laser hair removal procedures
were performed in 2004, which is up 53 percent from 2003. Almost 590,000
laser skin resurfacing procedures were performed in 2004, and over 200,000
laser treatments of leg treatments were performed as well.
The 2200-member American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) is
the only plastic surgery organization devoted entirely to the advancement of
cosmetic surgery. ASAPS is recognized throughout the world as the
authoritative source for cosmetic surgery education. U.S. members are
certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Canadian members are
certified in plastic surgery by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons
Knowledge is Power.
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