A new, non-surgical skin resurfacing treatment which uses a fractionated carbon dioxide laser may be heaven's answer to human wrinkles and brown sun spots.
Brainchild of the University of Michigan Cosmetic Dermatology and Laser Center, development of the new treatment method involved modification of traditional carbon dioxide lasers into a fractional format.
The carbon laser beam is broken into numerous microscopically thin beams that strike the skin and vaporize sun damaged or scarred tissue. This causes the skin to tighten, and during healing, produce collagen - the protein responsible for skin structure and appearance.
"The little micro-beams essentially vaporize small columns of tissue that take about two to three days to seal back up. During that time, as the skin heals back together, the lost volume essentially creates a tightening of the skin. In addition, around those columns of skin where the beam delivers heat, a very reproducible wound healing mechanism is created, which leads in part to the formation of new collagen in the skin," said Jeffrey Orringer, M.D., director of the U-M Cosmetic Dermatology and Laser Center.
"Previous laser treatment for wrinkles and other textural issues like acne scarring used to create significant wounding," said Orringer.
He added: "While results were terrific, the downtime for patients was substantial, and the risks were significant. Then, as technology improved, the pendulum swung the other way, providing lower risks, but with less pronounced results. This new treatment offers both improved results with much fewer side effects.
In addition to smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, Orringer says patients who undergo fractionated carbon dioxide laser treatment can expect a more even skin tone, as well as results that last for years, not weeks or months.
"Collagen, the molecule that this procedure is really trying to get the body to produce, has a half life of about 15 years. We would expect that, to the extent that patients' improvement is based on collagen production, their results would last a very long time," he said.
The procedure takes about 45 to 90 minutes. A topical anesthetic cream is applied to the area being treated and allowed to soak for in for about an hour. Patients are then given tiny injections of lidocaine to additionally numb the most sensitive parts of the face. To ensure wrinkles are eliminated as close to the eyes as possible, patients are given protective eye shields so the laser can be applied to the skin up to the eyelash line.