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New Laser Treatments Improve Results While Decreasing
(press release from Park Ridge Center for Plastic Surgery)
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November 10, 2005 -- Better results, fewer complications and shorter
recovery time are the goal of the newest generation of laser treatments for
skin, excessive body hair and unpleasing facial and leg veins. Often, laser
treatments are one part of a comprehensive approach to facial and body
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.
"The use of lasers has expanded in the number of patients treated and the range
of equipment available to physicians," says Dr. Sam Speron, laser surgery expert
and consumer advocate. "New lasers allow more energy to be released into the
skin so that the overall treatment is more effective but with fewer side
effects. As plastic surgeons, our goal is always to find the safest alternative
possible while making sure that the treatment is as effective as possible!"
Various laser treatments have emerged over time to treat a variety of skin
issues. We offer this information summarizing the current available information:
Ablative (destructive) lasers – The effects of skin resurfacing using a carbon
dioxide (CO2) laser are similar to those of chemical peels and dermabrasion. The
biggest difference, however, is 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 laser resurfacing 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 (usually preferred) or only
in specific regions.
Nonablative (destructive) lasers -- The newest laser technology has impacted
cosmetic surgery significantly in the past decade. A new group of non-ablative
skin lasers developed within the last five to eight 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. These newest lasers 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 Syneron and
Fotolift and Thermage which utilize 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 heat to kill
bacteria, paving the way for clearer skin. By being able to build collagen at
the same time, it also helps acne scarring. The newest laser technology also
adds a topical medication (ALA) to the skin (called photo-dynamic therapy) to
significantly increase 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 the 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 and excess hair is a concern for both 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 is to do your homework and become educated
before undergoing any procedure. While laser surgery is generally not painful,
patients may experience mild discomfort afterwards. In the future, lasers will
result in shorter recovery times, fewer side effects, and better 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.
For more information, please visit
Sam Speron is widely recognized as a leading expert on plastic surgery. Dr.
Speron's educational efforts have received critical acclaim from the media from
around the country including radio ("The Paul Harvey show" on WGN radio), local
TV (multiple CBS Channel 2 10PM special reports, multiple appearances on "This
week with Dr. Breen"), national television (Discovery Health Channel), local
radio ("The Joe Gentile Show" on WJJG on AM-1530, KFIZ Milwaukee with Joe
Scheibinger), newspapers (Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Satisfaction,
Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald), magazines (The Complete Woman, Chicago
Magazine, Living Life, Medical Economics, The Lutheran) and online news (LocateaDoc.com,
Knowledge is Power.
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