The most common questions asked in my office are about laser skin tightening and wrinkle removal. Patients want to know which laser treatments work the best. There are so many technologies out there that it is easy to get lost in technical jargon and marketing build up. The good news is that there are some truly excellent lasers procedures out there for both wrinkle reduction and skin tightening. The better news is that there are some easy ways to evaluate these technologies.
To truly reduce facial lines is a difficult task, especially wrinkles around the mouth and eyes. These lines can extend over a millimeter deep into the skin. It is the depth of the damage that makes them very difficult to treat. Most procedures for treating wrinkles are very superficial and although they may improve fine lines, they never treat the base of deep wrinkles. In order to really get improvement, one must have a procedure that treated the entire area of damage. This is why fractionated CO2 procedures like the Deep FX are so effective. This laser can penetrate up to 2mm into the skin assuring that even deep wrinkles will show significant improvement. Yes, there will be a few days of downtime but we spent several decades making these wrinkles and a few days is well worth it in order to make the skin look literally years younger.
What about tightening the skin? There are two options here depending on the desired amount of improvement and amount of downtime a patient is willing to undergo. The first option is using an infrared light call the Titan Laser to heat the dermal skin which shrinks the existing collagen (much like a piece of meat shrinks on the grill when heated) and will stimulate new collagen growth. The dermis of the skin thickens giving modest results of about 10 – 20% tightening after three treatments. Plan on spending about $600-$1000 per treatment for a face and the results will last about 18-24 months. The best part about the Titan is that there is absolutely no downtime. The skin is pink for about 30 minutes after the procedure and that is it. Use this in combination with Laser Genesis which is another no downtime laser treatment that helps decrease pores and fine lines.
The other option is using a combination of Active FX and Deep FX. A surgical facelift removes approximately 10 to 20 square cm of tissue. Using fractionated lasers we poke microscopic holes in skin much like aerating a lawn. After poking these holes, we have removed anywhere from 5 to 10 square cm of tissue. That means that we can get results that are on par with a facelift without the cost or downtime of a traditional surgery. This is the reason that many patients are choosing this procedure instead of a facelift (Denver Magazine: Death of the Facelift). In addition to being the best wrinkle treatment and skin tightening treatment, the combination of Active FX and Deep FX will also treat enlarged pores, sun damage spot and even decrease scars.
There is a ton of confusing marketing when it comes to devices for wrinkle treatment and skin tightening. With so many products such as Fraxel, Pixel, Matrix, Profractional, Thermage, Lux IR and more being added daily it is hard to know which one is the best. So how does a consumer rate the different laser procedures? It is actually very simple, just look at the pictures. Make sure these are not the generalized pictures from the manufacturer. Patients should stand firm and request pictures from the provider that will be performing the service. Ask the provider if these are average results or if they are just showing their “homerun” cases. If they cannot provide you pictures it is time to find a new provider or look at a different procedure. Check out examples of Active FX and Deep FX before and after photos.
It is important that you both trust your provider and the technology they are using. It takes several hundred cases to optimize clinical outcomes with any device so make sure to choose someone who can prove that they achieve excellent, safe and consistent results.