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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 2009 June;144(3):229-41


language: English

Current role of resurfacing lasers

Hantash B. M. 1, Gladstone H. B. 2

1 Elixir Institute of Regenerative Medicine San Jose, CA, USA 2 Division of Dermatologic Surgery Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA


Resurfacing lasers have been the treatment of choice for diminishing rhytids and tightening skin. The carbon dioxide and erbium lasers have been the gold and silver standards. Despite their effectiveness, these resurfacing lasers have a very high risk profile including scarring, hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation. Because of these side effects, various practitioners have tried alternative settings for these lasers as well as alternative wavelengths, particularly in the infrared spectrum. These devices have had less downtime, but their effectiveness has been limited to fine wrinkles. As with selective photothemolysis, a major advance in the field has been fractionated resurfacing which incorporates grids of microthermal zones that spares islands of skin. This concept permits less tissue damage and quicker tissue regeneration. Initially, fractionated resurfacing was limited to the nonablative mid-infrared spectrum. These resurfacing lasers is appropriate for those patients with acne scars, uneven skin tone, mild to moderate photodamage, and is somewhat effective for melasma. Importantly, because there is less overall tissue damage and stimulation of melanocytes, these lasers can be used in darker skin types. Downtime is 2-4 days of erythema and scaling. Yet, these nonablative fractionated devices required 5-6 treatments to achieve a moderate effect. Logically, the fractionated resurfacing has now been applied to the CO2 and the Erbium:Yag lasers. These devices can treat deeper wrinkles and tighten skin. Downtime appears to be 5-7 days. The long term effectiveness and the question of whether these fractionated devices will approach the efficacy of the standard resurfacing lasers is still in question. Ultimately either integrated devices which may use fractionated resurfacing, radiofrequency and a sensitizer, or combining different lasers in a single treatment may prove to be the most effective in reducing rhtyides, smoothing the skin topography and tightening the skin envelope.

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