SKIN RESURFACING | COMPANY
Dermatologist Removes Layer of Discomfort
with Laser Innovation
New technology reduces risks and recovery time
Lucy Brennan saw what her girlfriends had endured following various cosmetic surgery procedures and she was leery, not impressed. Some of the face lifts appeared to be too severe, and the chemical peels and laser resurfacing procedures were too aggressive. The women’s skin lost a lot of pigmentation, and its texture made the faces look like they had been burned. And even after the skin had healed, she wasn’t always sure the results were worth the risk.
“I wasn’t sold on a lot of those procedures. Their skin looked like they’d been in a fire,” she said of her girlfriends. “I didn’t want to go through having blisters. I was waiting for something better to come along,” she said.
Brennan then learned of a technological advancement in cosmetic CO2 laser surgery that would allow her to treat her sun-damaged skin without the dreaded after affects. The procedure took less than 30 minutes and didn’t require a full anesthesia. And when she walked out of her dermatologist’s office, she didn’t rush home to recuperate. “That afternoon when I had it done, I had a baseball hat and a pair of sunglasses and went shopping at Nordstrom’s,” said the 60-year-old interior designer. “I used to wear a heavy make-up foundation to cover up the brown sunspots. Now I just use a tinted moisturizer.”
Full recovery from the new laser surgery is estimated at 5-6 days, which allows male and female patients to avoid weeks of hibernation. And makeup can be applied to the resurfaced skin within 48 hours, a vast improvement over the 10-day recovery other procedures require.
The breakthrough is the MiXto SX and
MixtoSX by Lasering USA of San Ramon, California. And doctors say the system is an improvement over older CO2 laser skin resurfacing systems. Those systems demanded complete facial anesthesia because the laser beam moved across the entire surface of the face – one spot at a time, in a linear fashion – stripping the entire facial mask. This provided no cooling time for facial tissue, which led to thermal buildup, excessive pain and – guess what? – longer recovery times.
Such drawbacks can be avoided with the high-speed MiXto SX and
MixtoSX scanner, which divides the treatment area into quadrants, or fractions. This micro-spot method (300 microns vs. 1300 microns in other systems) skips the laser beam from one quad to the next, thus providing the longest period possible for thermal cooling of the tissue. Also, the deep penetration stimulates the production of new collagen – the fibrous protein that helps give the skin its youthful texture – within 6 to 12 weeks.
Down Time Reduction
Tomi Wall, Brennan’s dermatologist, said the MiXto SX
MixtoSX is a boon to patients and doctors. Patients are happy because unlike other similar lasers, it may be performed without topical or oral anesthesia. While some form of anesthesia is necessary, it is usually only a numbing cream applied to the face, or an over-the counter analgesic tablet – both of which must be utilized before the procedure. Meanwhile, doctors are pleased because they can deliver an important service with much less "down time" and wonderful results, thus treating more people in need. And the Lasering USA system is flexible: when a deeper treatment is necessary, the
MiXto SX and
MixtoSX can convert to a traditional resurfacing mode by simply pushing a button.
“The response has been tremendous,” said Wall who treats patients in Oakland, California. “The older systems worked well. The results were impressive. But there were lots of risks in terms of scars, discoloration, or infection during the healing process. And because of all the potential side-effects, people were wary of the procedure.”
Despite the appeal of MiXto SX and
MixtoSX, Wall said it is important to be selective when choosing a practitioner. Men and women must find someone who is eminently qualified and has had specific laser surgery training. For example, some physicians may offer the service but not have much experience with lasers. Also, always ask who will perform the procedure. If you interview with a doctor, that’s who you want to do the lasering – not, for example, a nurse in the office. And ask questions about recovery time and potential adverse affects. If a medical professional glosses over things that could go wrong, find someone else to do the surgery. “All procedures – no matter how wonderful – have potential risks. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. And not just for the procedure, but the price as well,” she said.
While a single treatment usually yields substantial results, patients with deeper skin damage may require additional
MiXto SX and
MixtoSX treatments spaced a month apart; older systems demanded a 3-to-6 month wait. And there are some patients who are not good candidates for the surgery: if, for example, facial lines are too deep remedial work can improve but not erase them. Also, persons with darker skin must be cautious. Wall said every"laser system she’s worked with may cause discoloration or scarring of dark skin.
Both genders are attracted to laser skin resurfacing, according to Wall, but for different reasons. “Women just want to look younger. Men will tell me they want to be competitive in the workplace,” she said, adding, “I think men notice the changes in their skin just as much as women do. But they’re uncomfortable talking about it. They need to find someone they feel comfortable discussing those concerns with.”
Sun Screen Each Day Keeps Doctor Away
Michael Cedars, M.D., a plastic surgeon in Oakland, California, said a 58-year-old male patient has reported that he continues to see improvements in his skin – three months after the laser treatment. The patient said that his fine facial lines have smoothed out, and that people have told him he looks like he’s in his mid-forties.
Cedars cautioned that while his patient quickly returned to his normal business and personal routines, he was required to wear sun-block every day for at least a month. And while the skin is temporarily more sensitive to the environment than it was before the treatment, in the long run patients should be able to return to their normal skin care regimen. He advises all his patients to use sun screen daily and to use common sense while in the sun; otherwise, those brown spots, wrinkles, acne scars, and creases around the mouth and nose may return.
Although the controlled burning process of laser resurfacing can improve assorted imperfections, the old system literally vaporizes a thin layer of skin over the entire treated region; this leaves the area raw and weeping. But with the new fractional C02 laser, a single procedure treats a controlled fraction of the facial area and rawness is avoided. This is the key reason, Cedars said, for more doctors to consider the new fractional approach. “This system provides the benefits of CO2 laser with less down time. Who could benefit from having less down time? Everybody,” he said.
“I want people to have reasonable expectations, cautions Cedars. Patients are happy when they know what to expect. If they hear that one treatment is all that is necessary, then they’re told they need a second treatment, they may feel taken advantage of. It wouldn’t be surprising if it takes more than one treatment to get the desired affect. Results may very with genetics and personal history,” he said.
Daniel Cassuto, M.D., a professor of plastic surgery at the University of Catania in Italy agrees. Cassuto, who has performed well over 100 facial laser procedures using the
MiXto SX and
MixtoSX, rarely uses an anesthesia when resurfacing at a mild-to-moderate heat intensity. Also, the new system offers the ideal combination of non-ablative and ablative methods, due to the specialized optional accessories Lasering USA has created. “The
MiXto SX and
MixtoSX C02 laser is the best fractional device currently on the market. To date, I have more than 100 cases and everyone has been enthusiastic,” he said.
Three months after her skin resurfacing, Brennan remains pleased and is considering undergoing the treatment for a second time. She believes it will appeal to women and men who don’t want to have a face lift or who are afraid of the traditional skin resurfacing. “Would I do it again? In a minute. I definitely think it’s an answer for people who don’t want to go so drastic. You don’t have to go under anesthetics. You drive yourself there, and you drive yourself home. And you’re not sent home with any pain pills.”
Douglas Glenn Clark is a
freelance writer based in Los Angeles, California