By Lois W. Stern, Editor-at-Large, Makemeheal.com
Two simple words hold the keys to understanding the concept of skin renewal: wound and heal. The skill of the practitioner – be s/he dermatologist, esthetician or plastic surgeon – makes all the difference in whether that wound ultimately stimulates the production of healthier, younger looking skin, has little impact or, worst scenario, scars the patient.
That youthful glow you see in a child’s face is the result of constant skin renewal, the shedding of old skin cells continually being replenished with new cells. A baby’s skin is in a constant state of renewal, shedding old cells while growing new ones. Alas, as we enter our teen years and beyond, skin renewal already begins to slow.
Research has shown that by the time we reach our forties and fifties, skin sheds approximately once every fifty-three days. As old, unshed cells build up on the skin’s surface, they become dual culprits to our skin’s dull, aging appearance. This is where the skill and experience of a knowledgeable practitioner who understands both theory and technique behind the wound-heal concept can come to the rescue, helping us kick the skin out of its old habits and coaxing it along into some new ones. Today one popular method for accomplishing this goal is found in a variety of laser treatments. A second, lesser known method for achieving similar goals is through dermal roller treatments.
Let’s begin with a basic understanding or the anatomy of our skin.
Stratum Corneum (the outermost surface of the Epidermis)
The outer layer of our skin is called the epidermis, with the stratum corneum its outermost surface. Beneath the epidermis lies the dermis. When we talk about resurfacing the skin, we are targeting treatment within the epidermis. When we speak of remodeling for wrinkle treatments, we are targeting treatment within the mid-dermis.
The basic concept behind both laser and dermal roller technologies is the same: wound and heal. One must wound the skin to remove old surface tissue, which in turn stimulates the growth of new collagen.
Let’s first take a look at the newer breed of lasers, known as nonablative fractional lasers, claiming to produce the results of older ablative “field” lasers, but with minimal downtime. Fraxel is one fine example of these newer lasers.
To best understand how fractional lasers work, you need to think of your skin as a digital photograph in need of restoration or touch up. Just as you can alter a photographic image pixel by pixel, fractional lasers treat your skin with thousands of tiny microscopic laser spots. During treatment, these thousands of columns penetrate deeply into the dermis. What distinguishes fractional lasers is their ability to leave untouched specific skin areas while treating others. By creating microscopic treatment zones, the laser affects only a fraction of your skin at a time.
During treatment, the fractional laser penetrates the non-living protective barrier of the skin, the stratum corneum, as if it were a window, leaving it completely intact. It then creates microscopic “wounds” within the targeted areas well beneath the outermost epidermal layer of skin. Both epidermal and dermal tissue are removed. In so doing, it triggers the body’s natural healing process to accelerate the production of collagen and new, healthier skin cells.
Below you can see some befre/after photos of one patient treated with a Fraxel laser.
Now let’s take a look at the dermal roller technology, of which the Microneedle Roller is one fine example
The Microneedle Roller uses its 200 extremely fine needles to penetrate the skin. During treatment the Roller leaves the epidermal barrier fully intact, while creating micro-channel wounds with its 200 fine needles. An effective optional compliment to this treatment is the simultaneously infusion of therapeutic serums, which penetrate more deeply while the skin is in its wounded state. These channel wounds fully close within just a few hours after initial application, providing enough time for new collagen structures to form within the skin’s lower layers, but short enough recovery time to ensure the patient nearly immediate resumption of normal schedules.
Photos First Printed in Chapter 3 of Tick Tock, Stop the Clock
Immediately following treatment and saline rinse
Clinically-conducted studies in South Korea, Europe, and U.S. have shown that the Roller can increase serum absorption by as much as 1,000 percent. Moreover, the Microneedle Roller is “skin friendly,” in that it leaves the epidermal barrier fully intact, and the micro-channels created by the 200 fine needles fully close within just a few hours after initial application. This provides just enough time for new collagen structures to form within the skin’s lower layers, while ensuring the patient of rapid recovery with the ability to almost immediately resume one’s normal schedule.
For every microscopic zone the Fractional laser or Roller targets and treats intensively, it leaves the surrounding tissue unaffected and intact, allowing the skin to heal much faster than if the entire area were treated at once. Both treatments wound the skin and then use the body’s natural healing process to create new, healthier, tighter tissue to replace the imperfections of the older skin.
Both the Microneedle Skin Roller and the non-ablative Fraxel laser are two viable non-surgical treatments for stimulating elastin and collagen production, thereby thickening the skin, smoothing away fine lines and wrinkles and ridding the skin of hyperpigmentations. Because these treatments spare healthy tissue, they are effective even on delicate skin areas such as the neck, chest and hands. But for more dramatic results, with the downside of more visible wounds and longer downtime, the ablative laser might be a better option for you.
Lois W. Stern, Editor-At-Large at Makemeheal.com, is the published author of two books: Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery www.sexliesandcosmeticsurgery.com and Tick Tock, Stop the Clock www.ticktockstoptheclock.com/ as well as a number of magazine articles. Her Professional Edition DVD is a popular aid to office staff while interacting with their patients. She and Patty Kovacs are the co-founders of http://coast2coastbeauty.com/CURRENT_NEWS.html. Check it out!