Merry Christmas to me!
My newest acquisition is a CO2 Fraxel laser!
Most of you are thinking that at this time, Dr. Athre, a CO2 Fraxel is not new — and you’re absolutely right. However, some of the uses of the CO2 laser are definitely new. As many of you know, lasers are basically machines that emit light. The light is concentrated and depending on the type of laser (e.g. CO2, Erbium, Alexandrite, etc.), it can be used for different purposes. The CO2 laser primarily targets water. Since skin is 64% water, CO2 is an excellent tool to resurface skin.
Skin consists of layers. The most superficial layer of the skin is the epidermis. Underlying the epidermis is the dermis. The dermal layer has cells to make new skin cells are well as proteins such as elastin and collagen. These proteins create a network which gives skin its bounce and plumpness. As we age, that matrix loses structure and these proteins become more randomly arranged.
Things that cause this disarrangement include aging, sun damage, UV light, trauma, smoking, poor nutrition, and poor hydration. The result of losing this structure is thin skin, with fine to moderate wrinkles that looks lifeless and is without the usual elasticity of normal skin. When skin has lost this “bounce,” the appropriate solution is to resurface the skin. Skin resurfacing causes a controlled injury to the skin in order to:
- Cause the skin precursor cells to regenerate new skin
- Cause re-crosslinking of collagen/elastin
- Grow new collagen and elastin
The oldest modalities to resurface skin are dermabrasion and chemical peels. Older peels, such as the Baker Gordon peel, the Phenol peel, and deep Trichloroacetic (TCA) peels resurface skin very well, but come with serious risks. Peels can be thought of similar to chemical wood strippers. Those of you who have applied wood stripper to a piece of furniture know that the paint will not completely be stripped in one application, and the stripper will strip the paint deeper in some areas and shallower in other areas.
Peels on the skin do exactly the same thing. Hence, there is a risk that peels may penetrate deeper in localized areas, and may need multiple applications. Lasters are a more precise, but more costly, way to resurface skin. The downside of the added cost is overwhelmingly outweighed by the advantages of:
- More precise depth of resurfacing
- Increased collagen growth
- Increased skin tightening
- No cardiac toxicity as seen in phenol peels
The average peel costs about $800-1200, and a full face treatment costs about $2000. Despite the added cost, the laser actually ends up being cheaper in the long run because most patients need one deep full face laser treatment, rather than multiple chemical peels.
For all of these reasons, most physicians regard the CO2 laser as the benchmark or gold standard for facial resurfacing. However, traditional CO2 laser resurfacing does have a few downsides, namely:
- Prolonged redness and healing time
- Possible hyperpigmentation
How do we fix this? Fraxel.
Fraxel is essentially a fractionated laser. If you recall, we said that a laser is basically a beam of light. Imagine that beam of light like water coming out of a garden hose. Now imagine putting one of those nozzles on the garden hose that breaks the stream of water into hundreds of tinier streams or droplets. This is exactly what Fraxel does.
It breaks up the main beam into smaller beams with areas of no laser in-between. This allows moret total energy to be delivered to the skin with less complications. In a nutshell, Athre Facial Plastics
now owns one of the coolest tools in complete skin resurfacing. What does that mean for you? We have always offered laser resurfacing of the face. Now, we offer the same treatment, for a cheaper cost.
For more information about laser facial resurfacing
, contact us
today at (281) 557-3223
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