Health Watch -- Smoothing Skin

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

It may be possible to get smoother, younger-looking skin, thanks to a better laser.

You've probably seen ads for laser skin resurfacing. Although these laser treatments do work, they also cause redness and require seven to 10 days for healing. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas are working on new laser surgery techniques that will improve results and allow more rapid healing.

Conventional laser treatments only target one layer of the skin, usually the surface layer. But to get better results, both the upper and deeper layers must be treated. Each layer requires a different kind of laser. An ideal treatment would precisely remove skin cell layers from the outer and inner layers, leaving an untreated buffer zone between them. This kind of surgery should heal in about three days, with less redness, better healing and fewer infections.

UT Southwestern plastic surgery researchers are working to perfect laser skin surgery using pig tissue, which is similar to human skin in composition. They're doing statistical analysis of the data they've collected from their work and will share this data with laser manufacturers so highly targeted laser equipment can be developed.

Dr. Spencer Brown, who heads UT Southwestern's plastic surgery research lab, says that companies typically build a laser, then look for something to treat. With this research, doctors started with the science to achieve the desired results, and now the laser will be built based on those findings.