We can’t slow time, but we can turn back the hands a little with laser skin therapy. Take years off your skin age, reduce sun damage, smooth wrinkles and fine lines, and tighten and tone sagging lax skin. The latest generation of lasers for skin therapy is bringing remarkable results to anyone interested in bringing out the beautiful in their skin.
Lasers work by transferring energy in the form of light into the skin where that light energy is absorbed by tissue and converted to heat. Different wavelengths of light are absorbed by different colors and will penetrate to different depths. The exact wavelength of light determines then what part of the skin is treated. Lasers use different crystals to separate out the desired wavelengths of light. More powerful lasers use carbon dioxide (CO2) to power the laser energy.
Getting rid of brown spots, broken capillaries or fine wrinkles on the surface of skin is done with shorter wavelengths of laser light. Using relatively low-energy light, surface imperfections such as redness of rosacea, blood vessels, age spots and other discolored signs of photo-aging can be gently heated and eliminated, replaced by newer, younger looking skin. This 20-minute “photo rejuvenation” procedure is so quick and easy it can be done over a lunch break, as it does not require any medications or downtime for recovery.
Laser hair removal requires a longer wavelength of light that is absorbed by the color found in the hair. Darker colors are more treatable with laser as the color absorbs the light energy where it then converts to heat. The laser energy knocks out the hair follicle along with the root, making laser the premiere treatment for hair removal. Forget waxing and plucking; this simple and quick treatment can put an end to messing with treatment of unwanted body hair.
Skin tightening is ideal for targeting those telltale signs of aging, including jowl and neck laxity, sagginess under the eyes, droopy brow lines, and nasolabial folds. For these conditions the laser energy needs to be absorbed in deeper skin layers causing heat-induced collagen shrinkage and micro-thermal injury as well as dermal regeneration, repair (healing) and remodeling. Skin tightening produces dramatic yet comfortable deep dermal heating without damage to the surface epidermis. The result is a tighter, smoother and fresher appearance to the skin.
Fractional Laser Treatments
For more significant wrinkling, discolored and sagging skin, the laser treatment needs to deliver increased energy to the deeper layers of collagen. In years past the only laser treatments for deeper collagen restoration involved a more destructive process called “ablation” in which the entire skin surface was treated leading to a complete stripping of the outer layer of skin, which involves a higher risk of infection and more downtime for healing. Seeking a less invasive and simpler approach for these more aggressive treatments, laser companies developed technologies that allow treating only a fraction of the skin at deeper levels while leaving most of the surface skin intact. This is called “fractional resurfacing.”
Different from previous laser technologies, with fractional resurfacing only a tiny proportion of the skin receives the laser light. The laser delivers a series of closely spaced laser spots to the skin while simultaneously preserving the normal healthy skin between. By leaving mostly healthy skin this results in rapid healing following the laser treatment. Fractional lasers strive to achieve the skin improvements obtained with ablative lasers without the associated side effects or downtime.
Pixel and the New iPixel
By splitting the laser into a seven-by-seven array of pixels we can effectively treat deeper skin layers while only disturbing 15 to 20 percent of the surface of the skin. This creates an ablative heat channel at the pixel area — a micro-injury — without disturbing the surrounding tissue. Those micro-injured areas start the process of healing and the untreated area acts as a reservoir for rapid healing. As collagen remodels, skin tightens and texture improves.
Pixel is the name given Alma Lasers to their laser handpiece that delivers a seven-by-seven grid of laser energy. Each pulse of laser light leaves a seven-by-seven “stamp” showing where the laser energy has been emitted into the skin. The Pixel handpiece is then lifted and precisely moved to the next spot to treat, with a slight overlap onto the last treatment spot, thus leaving a smooth and even coverage over the entire treatment area.
iPixel is a new laser handpiece from Alma Lasers that revolutionizes fractional laser treatment. Instead of a trigger on the laser handpiece that controls each pulse of laser light the iPixel uses a small wheel that controls the rapid firing of the laser. Instead of a seven-by-seven grid of energy with each pull of the handpiece trigger and each pulse of the laser, the iPixel leaves a one-by-seven grid with each tiny roll of the wheel allowing a smooth continuous path of treatment across the skin. This simple advance in handpiece technology means a much faster, more comfortable and more thorough treatment for patients.
For those patients with mild to moderate wrinkling the erbium crystal laser is powerful enough to produce great results with a series of three to four treatments that only require a few days for recovery. For patients with moderate to severe deep wrinkling who wish to avoid surgical procedures but desire a youthful, refreshed skin tone, iPixel CO2 skin resurfacing is the ideal choice.
CO2 skin resurfacing fell out of favor years ago due to the treatment’s long downtimes and risk of complications. Now with the iPixel CO2, you can get the fabulous results only available with CO2 but with a considerable reduction in downtime. In fact, the average patient will only see about four to five days of minor social downtime.
The iPixel hand piece is revolutionary in that it literally cuts treatment time in half yet allows for smoother more even coverage of the laser energy. This means less discomfort for patients along with a superior outcome. If you are considering a laser skin procedure then don’t settle for less. Ask about the new gold standard, the iPixel. Faster treatment, better coverage and less downtime are making it the best in laser skin care.
Scott Rollins, MD, is Board Certified with the American Board of Family Practice and the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. He specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement for men and women, thyroid and adrenal disorders, fibromyalgia and other complex medical conditions. He is founder and medical director of the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado (www.imcwc.com) and Bellezza Laser Aesthetics (www.bellezzalaser.com). Call (970) 245-6911 for an appointment or more information.