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Carbon dioxide laser resurfacing appears to be an effective long-term treatment for facial wrinkles, according to a new report.
The carbon dioxide laser vaporizes water molecules inside and outside of cells, causing thermal damage to the surrounding tissue, the authors write as background information in the article. In response to this insult, the skin produces more of the protein collagen, which fills in wrinkles.
"In addition to structural changes, the healing process frequently leads to pigmentary, or coloring, changes," the authors write. "These changes in skin pigmentation may be desirable, such as when patients wish to remove solar evidence of aging; however, changes in pigmentation after treatment can often be a troubling adverse effect."
P. Daniel Ward, MD, MS, and Shan R. Baker, MD, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, assessed 47 patients--42 women and five men with an average age of 52-who underwent carbon dioxide laser resurfacing on their entire face between 1996 and 2004.
Twenty-one patients, or 45%, had no complications following the procedure; of those who did, 14, or 30%, had milia (small, white cysts) or acne; eight, or 17%, had hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin); six, or 13%, had hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin); one, or 2%, developed an infection; and one, or 2%, developed sagging of the eyelids.