Scott Rollins, M.D.

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October 18, 2012
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ROLLINS: Non-surgical facelifts, the new tool to fight against time

If you want to take years off your skin age, reduce sun damage, smooth wrinkles and fine lines, tighten and tone, then it is time to check out the remarkable results from the latest generation of carbon dioxide-powered skin lasers. And, it just got faster and easier with a revolutionary laser handpiece called the iPixel.

First of all, lasers work by transferring energy in the form of light into the skin where that light energy is absorbed by tissue and converted to heat. Different wavelengths of light are absorbed by different colors and will penetrate to different depths. The exact wavelength of light determines then what part of the skin is treated. Lasers use different crystals to separate out the desired wavelengths of light. More powerful lasers use carbon dioxide (CO2) to power the laser energy.

Getting rid of brown spots, broken capillaries or fine wrinkles on the surface of skin is done with shorter wavelengths of laser light. Using relatively low-energy light, surface imperfections such as redness of rosacea, blood vessels, age spots, etc. can be gently heated and eliminated, replaced by newer, younger looking skin. This 20-minute "photo rejuvenation" procedure is so quick and easy it can be done over a lunch break, as it does not require any medications or downtime for recovery.

Tattoo removal and hair removal require a longer wavelength of light that is absorbed by the color found in the tattoo or hair. Darker colors are more treatable with laser as the color absorbs the light energy where it then converts to heat. The laser energy literally breaks down tattoo ink so that is absorbed by the body and disappears. For hair removal, the laser energy knocks out the hair follicle along with the root, making laser the premier treatment for hair removal. Forget waxing and plucking, this simple and quick treatment can put an end to messing with treatment of unwanted body hair.

Skin tightening is ideal for targeting those telltale signs of aging, including jowl and neck laxity, sagginess under the eyes, droopy brow lines, and nasolabial folds. For these conditions, the laser energy needs to be absorbed in deeper skin layers causing heat-induced collagen shrinkage and micro-thermal injury as well as dermal regeneration, repair (healing) and remodeling. Skin tightening produces dramatic yet comfortable deep dermal heating without damage to the surface epidermis. The result is a tighter, smoother and fresher appearance to the skin.

For more significant wrinkling, discolored and sagging skin, the laser treatment needs to deliver increased energy to the deeper layers of collagen. In years past the only laser treatments for deeper collagen restoration involved a more destructive process called "ablation" in which the entire skin surface was treated leading to a complete stripping of the outer layer of skin, which involves a higher risk of infection and more downtime for healing.

Seeking a less invasive and simpler approach for these more aggressive treatments, laser companies developed technologies that allow treating only a fraction of the skin at deeper levels while leaving most of the surface skin intact. This is called "fractional resurfacing."

Different from previous laser technologies, with fractional resurfacing only a tiny proportion of the skin receives the laser light. The laser delivers a series of closely spaced laser spots to the skin while simultaneously preserving the normal healthy skin between. By leaving mostly healthy skin this results in rapid healing following the laser treatment. Fractional lasers strive to achieve the skin improvements obtained with ablative lasers without the associated side effects or downtime.

PIXEL AND THE NEW IPIXEL

By splitting the laser into a 7x7 array of pixels we can effectively treat deeper skin layers while only disturbing 15%-20% of the surface of the skin. This creates an ablative heat channel at the pixel area - a micro-injury - without disturbing the surrounding tissue. Those micro-injured areas start the process of healing and the untreated area acts as a reservoir for rapid healing. As collagen remodels, skin tightens and texture improves.

Pixel is the name given by Alma Lasers to their laser handpiece that delivers a 7x7 grid of laser energy. Each pulse of laser light leaves a 7x7 "stamp" showing where the laser energy has been emitted into the skin. The Pixel handpiece is then lifted and precisely moved to the next spot to treat, with a slight overlap onto the last treatment spot, thus leaving a smooth and even coverage over the entire treatment area.

iPixel is a new laser handpiece from Alma Lasers that revolutionizes fractional laser treatment. Instead of a trigger on the laser handpiece that controls each pulse of laser light, the iPixel uses a small wheel that controls the rapid firing of the laser. Instead of a 7x7 grid of energy with each pull of the handpiece trigger and each pulse of the laser, the iPixel leaves a 1x7 grid with each tiny roll of the wheel allowing a smooth continuous path of treatment across the skin. This simple advance in handpiece technology means a much faster, more comfortable and more thorough treatment for patients.

For those patients with mild to moderate wrinkling, the erbium crystal laser is powerful enough to produce great results with a series of 3-4 treatments that only require a few days for recovery. For patients with moderate to severe deep wrinkling who wish to avoid surgical procedures but desire a youthful, refreshed skin tone, iPixel CO2 skin resurfacing is the ideal choice.

CO2 skin resurfacing fell out of favor years ago due to the treatment's long downtimes and risk of complications. Now with the iPixel CO2, the average patient will only see about 3 to 5 days of minor social downtime.

If you are considering a laser skin procedure then please don't settle for less. Faster treatment, better coverage and less downtime have iPixel the gold standard in laser skin care.

To learn more about iPixel and the many laser treatments available call Bellezza Laser Aesthetics at 970-254-1195 and schedule a free consultation with one of our laser specialists. Visit www.bellezzalaser.com to watch one of our actual treatments using the iPixel handpiece.

Scott Rollins, M.D., is board certified with the American Board of Family Practice and the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. He specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement, thyroid and adrenal disorders, fibromyalgia and other complex medical conditions. He is founder and medical director of the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado (www.imcwc.com)and Bellezza Laser Aesthetics (www.bellezzalaser.com). Call 970-245-6911 for appointments or more information.


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The Post Independent Updated Oct 18, 2012 03:48PM Published Oct 18, 2012 03:46PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.