Rebecca Gelber: New study shows benefits of laser skin resurfacing
August 3, 2018
Golf, tennis, kayaking, paddleboarding. Hiking, biking and snow sports. We live in Tahoe because we love to play in our glorious outdoors, and hence, in our sun.
Most of us know that between the thin air of altitude and our stunning sunny days, sun protection is a must. Unfortunately, for many of us, our sun damage started back in the days of the Coppertone girl and the Bain de Soleil woman.
We resign ourselves to avoiding further sun damage with good quality sunscreens and cover-ups, followed by our annual skin cancer checks. For the unfortunate among us, many suffer through treatments when precancers, or worse yet, cancers rear their ugly heads.
White scars from liquid nitrogen, peeling and ulcers from topical chemotherapy creams and occasional surgeries have been the most common treatment options. Deep laser resurfacing gives a great aesthetic result and can also vaporize pesky cancers, but many don't want to invest 10-14 days in healing.
A new study published in the June 1 medical journal Dermatology Surgery suggests that there may be an easier way. Earlier studies of fractional laser resurfacing showed benefit in not just wrinkles and sun damage, but precancerous lesions such as actinic keratoses (AKs), too. In this latest study, two dermatologists, Brown & Ortiz, found that in patients who had already failed liquid nitrogen, immunotherapy or chemotherapy creams, a stunning 92 percent of patients had successful treatment of their actinic keratosis (precancers) using a dual wavelength ablative and non-ablative laser, (Halo by Sciton). The very highest rate of improvement was noted on the scalp.
The good news is that we've been offering Halo and other skin improvement treatments here at Tahoe Aesthetic Medicine in Incline Village since doing the original research on this laser device in 2012-13. It's effective not just on the face, neck, chest and hands, but also as shown in this study on the scalp as well with no impact on hair growth.
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Given the high burden of sun exposure that most of us have had, it is important to continue regular full body skin cancer checks. This is a small study, but combined with earlier research, offers an encouraging direction for treatment of precancerous skin lesions which can be performed with minimal downtime, and has the added benefit of healthier looking skin.
Rebecca Gelber, MD, lives in Incline Village.