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Natural Awakenings

High-tech Skin Care: A Glossary of Today’s Newest Non-invasive Treatments

Jul 01, 2008 03:00AM ● By Linda Sechrist

The language of age-defying skin care technologies need not be Greek to anyone. For those who seek to roll back the years on the face in the mirror, Natural Awakenings’ glossary of high-tech terms for facial rejuvenation serves as a handy reference in communicating with physicians, dermatologists, estheticians and health practitioners. Here’s the latest in an evolving field.

The Aluma Skin Renewal system was originally designed to tighten skin and eliminate scarring from acne. Clinical studies reveal that its pain-free radio frequency technology generally improves skin texture. By sending bi-polar radio frequency waves to the underlying layers of the skin, this technique gently stimulates the production of new collagen, thus plumping and smoothing skin. Six to eight 20-minute treatments, scheduled once a week or every two weeks, yield best results. Aluma is an answer for the onset of aging, not the extent of laxity commonly seen between the ages of 60 and 65.

Fraxel® Laser Treatment is the latest laser-deep resurfacing procedure offering restorative powers for sun-damaged skin. This modality gently removes aged skin one layer at a time, while triggering the body’s own natural production of new collagen and skin cells. Fraxel carries away dead surface skin, fosters new growth and improves overall tone and texture. Happily, it also blots out brown spots, acne scarring and melasma, the localized dark discoloration of the skin referred to as “the mask of pregnancy.” Four treatments are spaced two weeks apart. Mild to moderate swelling and redness is expected for two to three days following treatment.

Light Emitting Diode (LED), Fluorescent Pulsed Light (FPL) and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) are the basis for non-surgical photorejuvenation treatments that further enhance the age reversal process. They can be used in concert with Titan, Thermage, Aluma and SkinMaster in order to augment benefits. LED’s red and infrared light therapy, which interacts with cells and stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, helps firm, plump and tighten skin. LED, FPL and IPL all help counter acne, as well as improve skin texture and uneven pigmentation from sun damage and other evidence of subsurface damage to the skin. FPL and IPL also help eliminate broken capillaries and spider veins.

Any of these photo light therapies, used over a period of five to twelve weeks, activates biological responses that convert light energy into cellular building blocks. Combining treatments ups bio-stimulation of cellular responses for a pro-collagen boost that manifests in tighter skin. Clients may experience pinkness and some mild swelling in the treated area with any of these treatments, but these will dissipate within hours.

Mesotherapy is a treatment with a reputation for restoring a more youthful appearance and slimming the body. It involves micro-injections of traditional medication, homeopathic medication and vitamins into the mesoderm, the skin’s middle layer that lies four to six millimeters beneath the skin’s surface.

Delivered in small doses to targeted areas such as double chins, love handles and anywhere else that the body pockets fat, mesotherapy’s efficient time-release delivery system helps stimulate the body to heal itself. This technique, formulated in 1952 by French physician Dr. M. Pistor, can be used to eliminate cellulite or rejuvenate cells, activating them metabolically and stimulating production of natural collagen and elastin.

PCDC is a mixture of phosphatidyl choline (PC) and deoxycholate (DC) that causes fat cells to break down for excretion through the body’s waste system. PC is a surfactant that is natural to the body as a component of bile acids and cell membranes. DC is a naturally-occurring bile salt, or emulsifier, necessary to transform PC into an injectable form. Used in a series, micro-fine injections must be administered by a physician’s assistant due to most states’ regulations.

Also known as lipotherapy, PCDC causes minor inflammation and discomfort for about a week; therefore injections are normally given every two weeks, with a maximum of five treatments per area. The cocktail will continue to work its magic for up to six months, dissolving fat. The series can be repeated again in six months, but that is rarely necessary. Not an answer to weight loss, this method of localized spot fat reduction, which shrinks targeted areas of the body, is a finessed alternative to invasive liposuction. Facial injections of PCDC can only be given under the eyes, to eliminate fat pads, and under the chin or at the jowls.

In general, physicians recommend that their clients maintain an overall healthy lifestyle and watch their caloric intake, because existing fat cells will always be present in the body. If their Body Mass Indicator (BMI) is higher than 34, clients are advised to lose 10 pounds before beginning treatments.

SkinMaster Skin Rejuvenation System is the latest update to microdermabrasion. Instead of using crystals, SkinMaster removes surface skin via a high-powered sonic wand that provides a painless and effective solution for fine lines, premature aging, blemishes, discoloration and sun damage. Ultrasonic waves coursing through Lotti micro-current and micro-diode laser machines provide the foundation for this non-invasive technology, which uses targeted mechanical and electrical energies.

“A series of a dozen treatments yields beautiful results that speak for themselves,” says Sherrie Greer, a training manager and education specialist for Sybaritic, the creator and manufacturer of SkinMaster. Treatments in the series should be done weekly. Upon completing the initial series, she recommends a monthly maintenance treatment.

ThermaCool® System works to turn back the clock and gently reverse the aging process, delivering results almost immediately. More commonly known as Thermage, this procedure, like Titan, can only be administered by a qualified professional in a physician’s office; it has been available in the United States longer than any other tightening device. The Face by ThermageTM procedure helps smooth, tighten and contour facial skin, softening wrinkles around the mouth, eyes and forehead. This gives a naturally younger appearance, with no downtime.

Skin responds to the deep penetrating mono-polar radio frequencies of Thermage with increased collagen regeneration and mild to moderate tightening. Once an uncomfortable procedure, a new, lower energy setting now allows for the passing of its wand over facial tissue multiple times during each two-hour treatment. Those considering the recommended series of six treatments must decide upon which area to focus—face/neck, stomach or legs. The first and, to date, the only procedure able to contour the skin around the eyes and eyelids and decrease winkles, lines and hooding is Eyes by ThermageTM.

The same company also offers The Cellulite procedure to noticeably reduce the appearance of cellulite in a single treatment. This includes a procedure for hands, to reduce crepiness, diminish the appearance of veins and produce more radiant skin texture. It works well in conjunction with Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) or other light therapy treatments designed to remove brown spots.

Titan treatments help reverse the aging of skin at any age. Introduced in 2004, the safe, non-surgical procedure uses infrared light to deliver heat two millimeters below the skin’s surface, while the device pre-cools the upper epidermis to protect it from damage. This produces immediate collagen contraction, thus tightening lax, sagging and wrinkled skin. Titan treatments may be applied to the face, neck, abdomen, thighs, posterior upper arms, chest and knees.

Because collagen remodeling continues over the course of a year, a continual program of treatments is standard. Effects accumulate in visible results.

Titan must be performed by a physician, dermatologist, physician’s assistant or registered nurse trained in the use of this technology. Dr. Paul Carniol, a board-certified plastic surgeon and clinical associate professor in the department of surgery at New Jersey Medical School, has performed extensive studies involving a series of two Titan treatments. He reports that the device can greatly improve facial appearance.

“My opinion is that it is the best thing there is short of a face lift,” he says. Treatments can be spaced six to eight weeks apart. Carniol notes that many patients return at six-month intervals, though some wait a bit longer.

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