Procedures

Laser Skin Resurfacing

Technology That Gets to the Real You

Over the past decade and a half, laser resurfacing has become the most precise and effective technology available for treatment of facial lines, wrinkles, acne scars, and other surface skin damage. Dermabrasion and chemical peeling can also treat fine lines, wrinkles, scars, and pigmentation irregularities, but have some limitations that make them appropriate only in select circumstances.

At Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, we own and utilize all of  these options, including third-generation dual-wavelength (Erbium:YAG/CO2) laser resurfacing–available in very few places throughout the country–so we can offer the treatment or technology that is best for each patient’s specific skin condition. Some medi-spas or physician offices where surgical procedures are not available or severely limited (Dermatology or Family Practice offices, for example) offer or encourage certain procedures or treatments designed to utilize the laser or technology they own or “just purchased.” This “I’ve got a new hammer, so everything must be a nail” approach tends to give you less-ideal results than may have been possible with the best surgery, skin peel, or laser procedure optimized for your specific needs. At Minneapolis Plastic Surgery and Carillon Minneapolis Anti-Aging and Skin Clinic we own 7 lasers and 2 IPL (BBL) machines, so we can use what’s best, not “what we have” or the promotional procedure du jour! Your individualized treatment will focus on removing unwanted elements from your skin and emphasizing what you like, ensuring you leave our office with renewed confidence and often major improvement in your skin that cannot be obtained elsewhere. (text continues below photos)

Lasers in Minneapolis

Using several of the best and proven laser techniques and equipment (seven on-site lasers and two IPL — intense pulsed light — machines), the plastic surgeons at Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, LTD. are able to reduce or remove wrinkles, scars, birthmarks, age spots, freckles, superficial blood vessels, unwanted hair, and sun damage, in addition to the other types of aesthetic plastic surgery they routinely perform.

Laser hair removal and other skin and body care services are available at our anti-aging and skin care clinic, Minneapolis Carillon Clinic, Ltd., and new laser techniques are being evaluated and perfected on an ongoing basis at our surgical facility. Our plastic surgeons provide superficial or deeper laser skin resurfacing, dermabrasion, chemical peels, spider vein sclerotherapy, and facial vein removal by both laser and sclerotherapy at our plastic surgery practice; other less invasive skin treatments, such as microdermabrasion, microlaser peels, and chemical peels, are available at Minneapolis Carillon Clinic, Ltd.

Laser technology is utilized when it provides a distinct advantage over “standard” or more traditional treatment choices, or when it is the best choice for a particular need. Unfortunately, some clinics or physicians promote “laser this” or “laser that” as “more advanced,” the “latest and greatest,” “less scarring,” or simply as a marketing tool to imply being up-to-date or technologically superior!

At Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, LTD., laser technology has been utilized for over 25 years whenever it has allowed treatments or techniques that truly represent a quantum leap forward in capability, results, or reduction of complications over older methods. Dr. Richard H. Tholen has been a local, national, and international speaker, instructor, and physician educator in advanced laser techniques at multiple wavelengths and power densities, and has made over 100 presentations regarding uses of lasers in cutaneous surgery. Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, LTD. remains one of few practices nationally to offer third-generation ablative laser skin resurfacing with our Derma-K™ combination Erbium:YAG/CO2 dual wavelength laser.

Laser skin resurfacing is performed to remove and improve facial wrinkles and sun damage, as well as to minimize acne scarring, and expression lines. About a decade ago, physicians employed first-generation carbon dioxide laser skin resurfacing machines for wrinkle removal, but found that, in addition to longer healing times and a prolonged period of redness, this laser produced hypopigmentation (lightening of skin color) or a visible line of demarcation between treated and untreated areas. Although wrinkles were indeed dramatically improved, these other side effects have reduced the initial enthusiasm this first-generation CO2 laser caused. Even second-generation Erbium:YAG lasers were found to have limitations that reduced acceptance of this technology. For over two decades, Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, LTD. has been involved with teaching about and evaluating laser technology as it arrives from the laboratory to the clinical setting.

After extensive use and testing, MPS obtained the most advanced third-generation combination Erbium:YAG/CO2 (dual wavelength treatment with each laser pulse) laser for facial skin resurfacing. This laser has been in use in our practice since 1998 and has proven to combine the advantages of both of the previous generations of laser technology while eliminating the negatives. At the dawn of laser resurfacing popularity, many plastic surgeons, dermatologists, and other laser practitioners were so eager to get on the laser resurfacing “bandwagon” in the early 1990’s that they purchased the first or second-generation lasers, only to later find out the limitations and problems associated with these single wavelength machines.  Oh, and they were expensive, so by the time the  third-generation laser that actually worked the best (without the hypopigmentation or inadequate treatment responses of the first and second-generation lasers) was available for physician purchase, there were very few “takers.” Those of us involved in the teaching of laser technology recognized the breakthrough technology this third-generation laser possessed, and were fortunate enough to have purchased one when they first became available. This laser was the dual-wavelength Derma-K™ laser, obtained for state-of-the-art laser skin resurfacing without the drawbacks of the first two laser generations.

To date, no other manufacturer has developed and sold a dual-wavelength Erbium:YAG/CO2 laser; some years ago MPS purchased a second Derma-K™ laser for parts; no new machines are presently available, and the few lasers still operating in the country are closely-kept and rigorously-maintained machines, for they still represent the state-of-the-art in efficacy and dramatic improvement without the problems of hypopigmentation or prolonged redness seen with prior-generation laser resurfacing technology, or the polka-dot, multiple-treatment, suboptimal-outcome limitations of many subsequent (but not better) fractional resurfacing options. For more information, click on this link.

The Procedure

During the laser skin resurfacing procedure with the dual-wavelength Derma-K™ laser used at Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, the topmost layer of skin is first vaporized by the Erbium:YAG wavelength, allowing the immediately-following lower-energy carbon dioxide (CO2) laser energy to effectively contract and tighten the lower skin layers without the excessive heat damage that causes delayed skin color changes (hypopigmentation), prolonged healing, or shiny, red skin color seen with prior lasers. This laser resurfacing operation removes the upper layers of the skin in exquisitely-precise thicknesses, but this also leaves the mid-dermal layers exposed (for effective CO2 collagen shortening and elastin stimulation at much lower energies), making this procedure one that is best done under a light general (TIVA) anesthetic. This ensures complete patient comfort, as well as allowing us to more carefully treat the skin around the eyes, nostrils, and lips, as well as eyebrows and hairline. Smaller treatment areas than the entire face may be treated under local anesthesia plus IV sedation.

Each pulse of this third-generation laser contains both wavelengths, and the laser pulse rate is adjustable from 1 pulse per second to 12 pulses per second. This means that each laser pulse is extremely short in duration, which minimizes unwanted thermal damage while still creating precise-thickness skin removal. Healing creates new collagen and elastic fibers in the dermis that smooth and tighten the skin, and a new, rejuvenated skin surface without the lines, sun damage, or age spots that were previously visible. Healing takes about 7-10 days, with redness fading rapidly enough so that most patients can return to work or social activities in a week or two.

State-of-the-art Technology

This dual wavelength laser technology is available in very few places other than at Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, LTD., and we  believe it continues to represent the best ablative skin resurfacing technology anywhere, giving significantly superior results as compared to non-ablative techniques (Thermage™, Fotofacial™, GentleWaves™, Ultherapy™, etc.), and as compared to the present plethora of fractional laser treatments such as Fraxel™, Active FX™, or Pixel™. These latter machines utilize older CO2 or Erbium:YAG laser technology in a different delivery method (polka-dot spots in a grid-like pattern). Multiple surgical sessions are usually recommended when these devices are used, and although some skin improvements can be seen, the results are usually less dramatic and still require healing after each session. This means that fractional laser treatments can add up to hours of treatments and rechecks, still-significant costs, and yet deliver results that often fall far short of the promised hype, even with multiple treatments, and occasionally causing textural irregularities because of the polka-dot nature of the fractional treatment.

What This Means For You

Sometimes the effects of age, sun exposure, acne, or other damage to the skin can be quite visible and debilitating, especially in social settings, so to those searching for Laser Skin Resurfacing, Minneapolis Plastic Surgery provides a powerful solution. When you’re a patient, we bring all our of considerable experience and dynamic technology to bear on the issues you want resolved—so you’ll spend less time in consultation and more time enjoying the new look of your skin, and the boost of confidence and self-esteem. You won’t be able to stop yourself from smiling every time you look in the mirror.

Costs for Laser Resurfacing

Dual-wavelength CO2/Erbium:YAG (Derma-K™) laser resurfacing requires 6 weeks of pre-operative skin treatment with Retin-A, 4% hydroquinone therapy, and other skin program cares before undergoing the general anesthetic 1-hour laser resurfacing operation. This costs about $6500 total, and represents the best single-treatment laser resurfacing procedure available, in our opinion. For more information and exact individual costs, contact us for a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with our laser resurfacing experts at Minneapolis Plastic Surgery. Cash discounts and financing options are available.


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