ORLANDO, FL - The past two decades have witnessed revolutionary advances in laser research and technology, greatly expanding dermatologic laser applications. Pulsed lasers have replaced other surgical procedures as the treatment of choice for a variety of skin lesions. Laser resurfacing of facial wrinkles, acne scarring and other cutaneous lesions generated tremendous interest in new applications and has experienced excellent clinical results.
Speaking recently (March 2, 1998) at the American Academy of Dermatology's 56th Annual Meeting, in Orlando, Richard E. Fitzpatrick, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine and Dermatology, University of California, San Diego, discussed this growing expertise. Laser resurfacing was developed as the beginning of this decade, and has seen many improvements in a short period of time. "Not only do we have new tools such as a Erbium Yag Laser, but techniques have evolved as well," Dr. Fitzpatrick said.
The laser treatments are more exact than chemical and abrasive treatments, providing more control over the amount of tissue being removed. They also provide dramatic, immediate improvement in most cases. The lasers remove microscopic layers of skin and damaged cells, which induces the skin to create new collagen to refurbish the skin.
Dr. Fitzpatrick specializes in using multiple lasers for maximum improvement. "Often I will begin with one type of laser which provides maximum skin tightening and smoothing of the skin with virtually no bleeding."
Next, Dr. Fitzpatrick uses a Erbium Yag Laser, which removes fine layers of tissue with even greater precision. This laser allows the physicians to go deeper into the skin and literally ‘sculpt' smoother skin. "In many cases, it is not unusual to go back and forth between lasers to even out rough spots or problem areas," Dr. Fitzpatrick noted.
By combining the collagen tightening capabilities of one laser with the precision afforded by the Erbium Yag Laser, the results can be incredible. It is not uncommon to utilize additional lasers such as the Alexandrite or Pulsed Dye Laser to remove dark circles under the eyes or telangiectasias for the best cosmetic results possible. Pulsed lasers enable scar-free elimination of a variety of skin lesions.
Healing methods also continue to improve with new dressings and formulations working to heal the surface of the skin within a week. Dr. Fitzpatrick recommends a vitamin C serum and retinol product pre-operatively, as well as Botox treatments. Botox acts as a cast in the areas to be treated, preventing wrinkles or frown lines as new collagen forms during the healing phase. "The revolutionary advances in laser research and technology lend themselves to a wide variety of dermatology applications. The prospects for the future are both exciting and challenging," Dr. Fitzpatrick stated.
The American Academy of Dermatology is the largest medical society representing 10,000 physicians who specialize in treating skin, hair and nail conditions.
Materials provided by American Academy Of Dermatology. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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