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Lasers used in facelifts induces better skin contraction

Article-Lasers used in facelifts induces better skin contraction

Key iconKey Points

  • Use of lasers represents future of facelifts
  • Lasers used in nasolabial fold area, oral commissure gets better results than standard facelift
  • Tissue tightening results from presentation of heat in tissues

Laser facelifts and laser-assisted incisional facelifts are popular among patients and surgeons alike, and they very well may represent the future of facelifts, according to American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS) immediate past-president Patrick McMenamin, M.D., who has performed many of these procedures over the past few years.

Dr. McMenamin
The popularity and less-invasive nature of these procedures are two certainties associated with laser facelifts; the rest, says the Sacramento, Calif., cosmetic surgeon, is up for debate as this work-in-progress proceeds along its scientific path.

TECHNIQUE Dr. McMenamin uses the Smartlipo MPX by Cynosure to perform laser facelifts. "In the area of the nasolabial fold, oral commissure and lower part of the lip, as well as the jowl, we get much better results than we get with a standard facelift. In the neck, we can achieve results that can be as good as we get with a standard facelift," Dr. McMenamin says.

His technique involves removal of very small (if any) amounts of facial fat, followed by uniform application of energy (heat) between the skin and muscle via laser probe. It's this heating that smooths facial contours and tightens the skin, according to Dr. McMenamin. "During the past year, we have found that the way that we put the heat in and the way we heat the tissue is ultimately what provides the result," he explains.

The grid that Dr. McMenamin draws to ensure that each area of the face and neck is properly heated to 38-40 degrees Celsius. (Photo credit: Patrick McMenamin, M.D.)
"When we introduce heat via the laser, we theorize that we are essentially starting another cascade of healing that is slightly different from the mechanical trauma that we initiate when we do a standard facelift," Dr. McMenamin says. He evaluates outcomes thoughtfully and modifies his technique based on his observations.

"Earlier in the evolution of this technique, we were heating the skin to 40 degrees; now we heat the skin to 38 degrees. We were previously working right under the surface of the skin and now we are going about 3 mm or 4 mm deeper," Dr. McMenamin says. "Our results are pretty good, and in many cases we are getting excellent tissue tightening. I believe that if the induction of heat into the subcutaneous space and the undersurface of the skin are done intelligently and thoughtfully, it can help induce better skin contraction than we could potentially get with a traditional facelift. However, I can't say that's true in all patients all the time, because there is still a lot to learn."

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