This blog will elucidate that small changes to one’s lifestyle and a small investment in skin products, will lead to significant improvements in one’s skin health and beauty.
- Protect from the sun with daily sunscreen, sun protection, and Heliocare. The number one enemy to skin is sun exposure. The sun’s UVB rays lead to activation of enzymes that destroy the skin’s collagen leading to wrinkling and thinner skin. Skin pigmentation problems (melasma, solar lentigos) are exacerbated by the sun. Skin cancers are almost always related to exposure to the sun’s damaging rays. Studies have shown that just using sunscreen can improve ones looks. Heliocare contains Polypodium leucotomos which is a fern extract that is an antioxidant that reverses and protects against the radiation effects of the sun on skin cells. Heliocare has also been shown to improve melasma, because even indoor artificial light can exacerbate this condition where sunscreens don’t offer protection. Wearing a large brimmed hat, SPF rash guard (if at the beach), and staying under an umbrella/shade should be considered during periods of prolonged outdoor sun exposure.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is probably a close second to the sun as a factor affecting skin health and beauty. The toxins in smoking cause contraction in vessels in the skin, leading to poor oxygenation of the skin cells. Smoking essentially strangulates one’s skin causing loss of elasticity, viability, and thickness. Other side effects include increased wrinkles, a change in the color of the skin, thinning of the hair, halitosis, and dental disease.
- Apply topical Retin A or Retinol. It has been well established with research dating back over 25 years, that Retin A has anti-aging qualities. It has been shown to increase cellular turnover in the skin, thus creating skin cells that are younger and more vibrant. It increases collagen in the skin and improves hydration in the skin by increasing the GAG’s. Pigmentation abnormalities are improved as well. Precancerous changes are reversed and prevented to a certain extent. Wrinkles and photodamage have been shown to improve with just using Retin A. One word of caution. If you choose to use Retinol because it has less peeling, you have to use a strength that is higher than what is found in most OTC cosmetics.
- Maintain hydration, drink plenty of water. This is somewhat controversial, but there are anecdotal reports of improvements in overall looks with just making sure you are fully hydrated. There are obvious other benefits as well including kidney, bladder, blood pressure and circulatory health.
- Topical Growth Factors and Antioxidants. Growth factors stimulate skin cells to become more youthful and recruit stem cells which may lay dormant in the skin. Antioxidants help the skin fight off the environmental stress that attacks the skin, including the sun’s damaging radiation. Products that fall into this category are: TNS Essential Serum, Lifeline Day and Night Cream, and Neocutis Journee.
These recommendations are a good start to improve skin health for all individuals, regardless of budgetary concerns. The younger these are implemented, the less correction that will be needed in the future. Consider following these guidelines as an “investment in the future”.
It seems that women are going to great lengths to try to achieve the elusive “inner thigh gap”. According to Nik Richie, the founder of the website “The Dirty” who claims to be the first to coin the phrase “inner thigh gap”, the space between the thighs needs to ideally be 5 finger breadths. Many people, including physicians, argue that women are genetically predisposed as to whether they have the ability to obtain an ITG. If one’s hips are narrow, the argument is that the legs are too close together and having a gap is not possible. Nik’s reply is that it is possible in all women with harsh dieting and exercise, with particular attention to the thigh abductor weight machine (I think he meant adductor machine). Most women would probably be satisfied with an ITG of any dimension, and feel that Nik’s definition is at the far end of the spectrum.
Coolsculpting has just made it easier for women to improve their inner thighs. Whether or not one achieves the perfect “5 finger breadth” gap is really dependent upon what status the thighs are before starting the procedure, their anatomy (genetics) and how much is related to excessive fat deposits. Each Coolsculpting treatment is able to decrease fat in the treated area by about 25%. Results can be visible at only 5 weeks but take about 3 months to fully appreciate the change. The procedure can be repeated if more fat reduction is desired.
Although Coolsculpting was initially FDA approved in 2009 (2010 approval to treat flanks), the handpieces to treat the thigh area were only recently developed and approved. Both the Coolsmooth and Coolfit handpieces are able to treat the thigh area. Treatments are nearly painless and take approximately 1-2 hours per thigh. There is no downtime and no restrictions on activity after the procedure. Risks are minimal and include bruising, numbness, and need for more treatments. Dr. Weiner feels that Coolsculpting offers a healthy method for reducing thigh fat and does not endorse the alternative, that being extreme dieting. In addition, Dr. Weiner stresses that patients must have realistic expectations as to what the Coolsculpting procedure can achieve, and have an appropriate body image before commencing treatment.
Certainly the “inner thigh gap” is a controversial subject. Dr. Weiner’s stance is that many people will not be able to achieve the gap with the Coolsculpting procedure, but they should expect improvement. There are some people who have an actual physical need to reduce their inner thighs – those who have thighs that rub during exercise or walking – who are particularly good candidates for this treatment. The bottom line is that Coolsculpting is a noninvasive, no downtime, permanent way to improve one’s inner thighs with it’s newly approved handpieces, gap or no gap.
Off Label Uses of the Infini – A Plethora of Potential Treatment Options – Scars, Sweat, Cellulite, Acne, Fat, Breast Lift, Knees, Tattoos
The Infini is quickly being recognized by the aesthetic physicians as a very powerful tool to tighten facial and neck skin with very little downtime (less than 36 hours). It has also proven to have an extremely low risk profile, with very few long term side effects noted, even in tan or dark skinned individuals. For those unfamiliar with the Infini, please read this blog. In a nutshell, the Infini is a microneedling fraction radiofrequency (MFR) device that coagulates the dermis at various depths (o.25mm – 3.5mm) leading to tissue contraction, new collagen and elastin formation, and overall skin tightening and wrinkle improvement. Dr. Weiner has been using the Infini soon after it was FDA approved and has become the largest user of the device in the US. There have been several off label (non FDA approved) uses of the Infini that Dr. Weiner has been studying that will be discussed below.
- Scar Improvement – The Infini causes disruption of the abnormal/pathologic collagen deposition and stimulates new and more organized collagen that more closely resembles the body’s normal collagen. Acne scars have been treated, even in darker skin individuals, with improvements noted. A physician in Korea has a large series of acne scarring patients who have been treated with the Infini showing dramatic improvements. Other scars being studied are stria (stretch marks) and surgical scars (such as tummy tuck and skin cancers).
- Hyperhidrosis (Excessive sweating) – The sweat glands lay in the lower part of the dermis and just below it. By heating these areas up to a certain temperature, they can be destroyed permanently. This has been proven by the Miradry device, which uses microwaves to heat up the tissue. There is a very high long term satisfaction rate using this device after undergoing 2 treatments. It’s drawback has been discomfort (requiring blocks with injections) and cost ($3000 for 2 treatments). The Infini can be set to a depth that targets the area of the sweat glands and heat this area up to a point of coagulation (gland destruction). In preliminary studies in axillary (underarm) sweating, Dr. Weiner’s patients have seen improvements with the Infini with less discomfort, no downtime, and at a fraction of the cost. Dr. Weiner’s Press Release about using Infini for Hyperhidrosis.
- Acne – Dr. Weiner had been noting that patients whom were undergoing Infini for skin tightening/wrinkles were also noting improvement with their acne. It was postulated that the sebaceous glands, the glands responsible for sebum production (the root cause of acne) were being injured with the Infini treatment. An acne flair is not uncommon after an Infini treatment, and this is caused by inflammation of the sebaceous gland temporarily. Over time, the glands will involute (becomes smaller with less secretions) and lead to the acne improvements noted. Eventually sebaceous glands can enlarge again (unlike sweat glands with don’t have the ability to regrow), so the treatment with Infini turns out to be a potential long term but not permanent solution for acne.
- Body Skin Tightening – Areas such as knees and arms are a concern for many patients. Other than surgical correction, which leaves large undesirous scars, there hasn’t been a good solution. Perhaps the Infini can create similar skin contraction and thickening in these areas as it does on the face. Dr. Weiner is studying this on a few select patients.
- Fat Reduction – The depth of 3.5 mm is below the dermis in most areas of the body. Using this depth with the Infini, it is possible to target fat, particularly in the submental (below the chin) area and along the jaw line. Many patients have seen improvements in these areas with their Infini treatments for wrinkles on the face and neck. Dr. Weiner purposely will go deep in these areas to coagulate and destroy fat and then go more superficial to tighten the dermis. Slimming the mid and lower face for patients with excessive fat tissue can be manage with the deep depth Infini treatment.
- Cellulite Improvement – Using the same rationale as targeting fat, it seems logical that destroying the fat that is herniating would improve the appearance of cellulite. This is still an area of treatment that is more speculation and research is being conducted by Dr. Weiner on a few select patients.
- Tattoo Removal – There is evidence that combining fractional ablative lasers with the Q-Switched laser has benefit in removing tattoos. If this is merely causing more of an inflammatory response to enhance the ink removal, then Infini can cause a similar tissue coagulation, but with less risk and downtime than the lasers do.
- Breast Lifting – If the Infini can cause tissue contraction in the area of the breast, is it enough to see a noticeable improvement in the position of the breast? A no scar breast lift sounds extremely appealing. Studies will need to be done to see if the Infini can work for this and if so, how many treatments are needed, are touch ups required, and is it’s price justified.
Dr. Weiner is carefully studying the Infini for these off label uses and trying to develop standardized protocols for the medical community. It seems like the Infini’s potential is just starting to be recognized and its future is very promising.
The ideal shape for an aesthetically pleasing face has been referred to as “an upside down egg” or heart-shaped. It is desirous to have the upper face wider than the mid/lower face. It brings more attention to the eyes, the center of beauty. Widening of the lower face can give a female a more masculine appearance, and also is a sign of aging. The causes of enlargement of the mid/lower face are:
- Enlarged masseter muscles. Often caused by bruxism (grinding one’s teeth)
- Genetics. Asian females tend to have this issue
- Jowling associated with the aging face
By injecting the masseter muscles with Botox or Dysport, the muscles can diminish in size and atrophy over time. If the procedure is repeated and regularly administered, a long-term slimming of the mid and lower face can be achieved. Candidates for this procedure are people who fall into the #1 and #3 category. Risks are minimal, but this can affect your smile if not done by someone who has experience with the anatomy and performing this procedure.
Many people would also benefit from injecting the temples simultaneously with filler to help create the upside down egg-shape to the face (from a square-shaped face).
For the person that falls into the #2 and #4 category, there is some literature that suggests that Ulthera might be helpful. Although a much newer technology, Infini might work for this as well, time will tell. By going to depths that are much deeper than the skin, into the fat layer, it might be possible to decrease the amount of fat in these areas and thereby slim the face.
Coagulation is Necessary For Maximum Skin Tightening; Science and Experience Prove This – INFINI is the Best Solution
It is fundamental that my patients understand the science behind their treatments. There is too much “quasi science” in the aesthetic industry that is fooling the general public. As a result, many patients are dissatisfied with their outcomes and have buyer’s remorse. Perhaps the most controversial area of the industry is with “skin tightening” procedures. After reading this and my previous blog on the Infini, hopefully you will recognize the reasons why most of the devices/procedures for skin tightening don’t work well and why the Infini stands out from the crowd.
To achieve skin tightening, the deeper layer of the skin, the dermis, needs to create new collagen. It has been found that heating this layer of skin can stimulate neocollagenesis (new collagen production). The threshold is 42 degrees centigrade to impart a stimulus to the dermis, because at this temperature collagen denaturing occurs (the bonds holding collagen together break down). The body senses the injury, and during the repair of this area, new, youthful collagen is produced. The response is very mild at these temperatures. At higher temperatures, 55-70 degrees centigrade, coagulation of the collagen and surrounding tissue occurs, with more coagulation seen in the higher range of those temperatures.
WHEN COAGULATION OCCURS, THE BODY’S RESPONSE TO THE INJURY IS MUCH MORE INTENSE. TO ACHIEVE MAXIMUM SKIN TIGHTENING AND COLLAGEN FORMATION, COAGULATION IS NEEDED IN THE DERMIS.
Digression: The long standing “gold standard” for wrinkle control and skin tightening (without surgery) has been considered the fully ablative CO2 laser. It has been determined that its efficacy is based primarily on its significant coagulation effect. The risks associated with complete removal of the upper layer of the dermis – prolonged healing, redness, scarring, infection, and hypo and hyperpigmentation – have significantly curtailed its use. Recent technology improvements that have made the CO2 laser fractional (treating only a fraction of the skin) has greatly reduced the risks, but they are still present. Erbium laser resurfacing, which traditional has very little coagulation, has not been shown to have the same results as the CO2 laser. Changes in the Erbium to give it more of a coagulation effect on the skin have lead to better results.
The ideal skin tightening device would cause tissue coagulation in the dermis, but have very little of the risks and downtime associated with the CO2 laser. Radiofrequency devices have been trying for over 10 years to do this without success. They try to heat the dermis, but not the epidermis (upper layer of the skin) to the 42 degrees needed to get a mild neocollagenesis. THE PROBLEM IS THAT ALL THE NON PENETRATING RF DEVICES CAN DO, AT THEIR VERY BEST, IS HEAT, BUT NOT COAGULATE, TISSUE IN THE DERMIS.
So what devices can coagulate tissue is the dermis aside from the CO2 laser: Microneedling RF devices (like Infini) and Ulthera (High Frequency Ultrasound). In this category, Infini wins hands down. All of the other microneedling devices currently on the market have one or more of the following downfalls:
- The needles are not insulated so the epidermis is at risk for injury (pigmentation or indentation risks)
- The needle depth is fixed and not variable. The facial skin has a huge variation in depth, from 0.38mm to 3mm. Ideally, the coagulation is placed at the deep dermal layer. If it is too deep, there will be minimal collagen response.
- The themal injury is not fractional. Treating fractionally is the way to treat in 2014. This allows for accelerated healing, minimal risks, without compromising results.
- Their temperatures don’t reach the level high enough for coagulation. Without coagulation, results won’t be as good.
THE INFINI USES INSULATED NEEDLES, HAS VARIABLE NEEDLE DEPTH (0.5mm-3.5mm), AND CAUSES A FRACTIONAL COAGULATION INJURY IN THE DERMIS.
Ulthera has been a great tool in our office for the past 5 years. When comparing the Infini to the Ulthera, the following deficiencies in skin tightening have come up:
- Ulthera currently only has 3 depths – 1.5mm, 3mm and 4.5mm. For most of the face, only the 1.5 is at the level of the dermis. Ulthera reportedly tightens at the deeper muscular layer, the SMAS, but this has yet to be a proven mechanism by histological samples (looking under the microscope at biopsies). Much of the coagulation from Ulthera is in the subcutaneous fat or fat layer, an area that produces very little or no collagen. It does explain the improvement in the jawline and upper neck though, the areas where there are fatty deposits.
- Ulthera lays down about 15,000 thermal coagulation points (TPC’s) during a treatment. The Infini will create 50,000 or more of these TPC’s during a treatment. More TPC’s probably mean more results because Ulthera has proven that going from 7500 TPC’s to 15,000 TPC’s gave them better results.
- Ulthera is more expensive for the physician to use, so the costs get passed on to the patients.
To summarize, skin tightening requires a coagulation injury in the deeper dermis. The discussion above has tried to show that besides the Infini, all other RF devices fail to deliver a predictable, safe, thermal injury to the point of coagulation in the dermis. Without the coagulation in the dermis, results will be unsatisfactory. In essence, the Infini has made Thermage, Venus Freeze, Exilis, Pelleve, Tripolar, Titan – all OBSOLETE.
To get a better grasp of the RF skin tightening Industry, please read the blog: “FINALLY…A Radiofrequency (RF) Skin Tightening Device that Makes Sense. Infini by Lutronic.” Includes an overview of the RF skin tightening industry.
Coolsculpting is a noninvasive technique to permanently reduce unwanted fat. It was FDA approved in 2009 for treatment of the flanks. It has subsequently been FDA approved for abdominal fat and, as of April, 2014, has the indication for treating thighs.
Up until this point, all the handpieces required a suction to adhere to the area that was going to be treated. There needed to be a roll of fat that could be “grabbed” by the suction or the area couldn’t be treated. The development of the newest handpiece, the Coolsmooth, allowed for areas to be treated without the use of the suction, such as the thigh area. It also enabled the person with smaller amounts of fat or tighter skin to be treated. At the present time, each application of the Coolsmooth handpiece requires 2 hours but this will most likely be reduced to 1 hour in the future.
“Treatment to transformation” is a technique whereby multiple applications of the Coolsculpting machine are applied in either one or several sittings. By overlapping areas treated or by treating some areas 2 or 3 times, results are now approaching what liposuction can achieve – without the downtime or risk associated. The technique has been pioneered by Dr. Grant Stevens, from Marina del Ray, California.
Massaging immediately after removal of the handpiece has been shown to increase the fat loss in a recent study. This has been done in our office for at least 4 years.
Although loose skin is a theoretical risk after losing fat underneath it, Dr. Stevens has shown that this is absolutely not the case. He has seen skin contraction with his patients and has not seen cases of excess skin.
A recent study presented at ASLMS 2014 showed effectiveness in patients with gynecomastia. Two treatments were required and most patients were satisfied with their results.
Future handpieces are being developed to work on the neck/chin area, ankles, and one specifically for breast tissue. Cellulite reduction is also being studied and it looks promising. Treatment for uneven results after liposuction seems to be greatly improved with Coolsculpting as well, and the new Coolsmooth handpiece will be a huge advance in this treatment.
Hyaluronic Acid dermal fillers are the most popular fillers used worldwide. In the United States, the commonly used HA fillers are:
- Juvederm Ultra and Ultra Plus
The beauty of HA fillers is that they are very well tolerated because hyaluronic acid is a component of skin, so it is a naturally occurring substance. It’s a soft product, and will last anywhere from 4 months, to up to 2 years, depending on the brand used, and the location it is placed.
Another key attribute to the HA fillers popularity is that it can be completely dissolved with an enzyme called hyaluronidase. It is manufactured from either bovine (cow) or ovine (sheep), so there is a remote possibility of having an allergic reaction to the commercially available products (Vitrase, Hydase, and Amphadase). There seems to be a crossover with people that are allergic to bees for these animal derived products. (Hylenex is a recombinant form of hyaluronidase that is the human form that is rarely used due to its expense.)
Hyaluronidase is useful for dissolving HA filler in the following instances:
- The filler was over done/”over filled” and it is not aesthetically pleasing
- There is prolonged swelling, particularly around the eye and most often with Juvederm
- An infection has occurred in the area of prior filler
- The filler is lumpy or has nodules and doesn’t respond to massage and time (especially lips)
- Rare possible allergic reaction to the HA filler
- When there is vascular compromise secondary to the HA filler injection which can be caused by external compression on a vessel or intraluminal (within the vessel) injection
My experience with hyaluronidase has been mostly with patients that have had Juvederm injected in the tear trough area from another facility. I strongly recommend that Juvederm not be injected in this area because of the risk of prolonged edema. The reason this happens more with Juvederm is speculated to be due to its ability to attract more water, and because it spreads more diffusely than the other fillers.
When injecting hyaluronidase, it is mixed with lidocaine by the physician, so it is a fairly comfortable procedure. There are a couple limiting factors with the injection. It is not as precise as the filler injection, so it can remove some of the filler that you wanted to stay along with the unwanted filler. Also, dosing/how much to use, is not an exact science. It may take more than one treatment to dissolve the HA filler. The results can occur within minutes, but usually take about a day to fully appreciate. Also, Juvederm tends to be the hardest to dissolve, and it thought that this is related to the way it is cross linked (manufacturing process). I imagine that Voluma would be similar to Juvederm or maybe even harder to dissolve, but I don’t have any experience with it yet.
The bottom line is that you don’t have to live with HA filler that you are not happy with. You can easily reverse lips that are lumpy or too big, swelling around the eye from filler, or dissolve an over correction or asymmetry with hyaluronidase. An injection with hyaluronidase can get you back to where you used to be in about 24 hours. Also, it’s nice to have a little piece of mind when getting injected with an HA filler that the process can be completely reversed with a small procedure.
Dr. Steve Weiner is a Facial Plastic Surgeon who “laid down his scalpel” in 2005 and concentrates solely on non invasive and minimally invasive cosmetic procedures at The Aesthetic Clinique. His website is http://www.theclinique.net . Call for a consultation: 850.622.1214
Revance RT001 is a topical treatment that is a neurotoxin or “neuromodulator”. This means that it decreases the muscle activity, similar to Botox Cosmetic, Dysport, and Xeomin. However, unlike the current FDA neuromodulators, Revance RT001 can penetrate through intact skin, whereas all the others require needle injections. Although the Botox injections are fairly quick and cause minimal discomfort, it is the belief by the company, Revance (RVNC), that there are many people that are avoiding treatment because of the needles. It has been reported that only 10% of the candidates for getting their crows feet treated are currently getting treated and that when offered a topical, the number of people getting treated will go up significantly. Unfortunately, the only area that has shown promise on the face in their studies has been the crows feet. The frown lines (glabella) treatment was not significantly improved with Revance RT001, and that’s most likely related to differences in the position of the muscles in this area (deep) when compared to the crows feet (superficial).
The treatment will be applied in the doctors office and will need to stay on the skin for approximately 20 minutes. This will NOT be a home remedy. Results might actually be better than the injections, for the crows feet, because the application will be more uniform to the area as opposed to the injections which are done in a sequential, interrupted manner.
Another use of Revance RT001 being researched is for excessive sweating, hyperhidrosis, in the underarm (axilla). Treating this area with the injectable neurotoxins (Botox, Dysport) requires about 30 punctures on each side. Clearly, Revance will be a huge step forward in comfort for patients being treated for this problem. A growing trend has been using Botox to treat genital/pubic area sweat. Needless to say, most people would prefer topicals in this area to several injections. It doesn’t seem to be effective in the hands or feet at this time because the thickness of the dermis prevents proper absorption of the drug through the skin. Research is also being done on its use for improving acne.
It looks like Revance RT001 will get FDA approval because of its great safety and efficacy in their current FDA trials. When will it get approved? Probably late 2014 or early 2015. This will be a welcome relief to all the needle-phobes with prominent crows feet.
Dr. Weiner is a Facial Plastic Surgeon who laid down his scalpel in 2005 and concentrates solely on noninvasive and minimally invasive Cosmetic Procedures. He is Johns Hopkins trained and Board Certified.
Dermapen – Advanced Microneedling for Skin Tightening, Wrinkles, Acne Scars, Stretch Marks, and Improving Elasticity of Skin.
The Dermapen is used in conjunction with PRP and PPP in the video above.
The Dermapen 3 is a motorized microneedling device that can produce over 1300 dermal penetrations per second. The micro-injuries that are created cause an inflammatory response that ultimately causes collagen production. The injury to the dermis is fractional, only a small percentage is affected, which has been shown to lead to faster healing and an improved risk profile when compared to treating the entire dermis. There is no heat produced, as a laser would, so the risks of pigmentation issues is very low. For maximal benefits, a series of about 6 are recommended. The advantage of a Dermapen over a dermal roller is:
- The penetrations are perpendicular to the skin so there is no tearing of the skin.
- The perpendicular penetrations are linear and more precise than the roller that creates a wedge defect in the skin.
- Depth of penetration can be changed for the different areas of the face.
- The microneedles are much thinner than the dermal roller
- Many more penetrations are performed in a Dermapen treatment
- Able to treat areas where rolling is difficult or not possible – around the nose and eyes
What conditions can a Dermapen treat?
- Superficial skin laxity and wrinkles, especially around the eyes
- Enlarged pores.
- Scarring, particularly acne scars
- Stretch marks
- Thin skin related to sun damage or age
- Etched in superficial lines
What should I expect on the day of the Dermapen treatment?
- After pictures are taken, a dermaplane is performed – using a scalpel, the superficial layer of skin is removed including fine superficial hairs.
- A topical numbing cream will be placed on the skin for about 20 minutes
- The cream is wiped off and the face is cleaned thoroughly with hospital grade soap
- A hyaluronic acid lotion is placed on the skin which allows for easier movement of the Dermapen over the skin.
- IF THIS IS A “VAMPIRE FACIAL”, PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) IS NOW PLACE ON THE SKIN INSTEAD OF THE HYALURONIC ACID.
- The Dermapen is then placed on the skin and each area is treated in at least 3 directions to get a thorough coverage. The product or PRP placed on the skin is pushed into the deeper layers of the dermis by the Dermapen
- When finished with the Dermapen treatment (about 20-30 minutes), topical growth factors or collagen stimulators are placed on the treated skin. Studies have shown that these topicals can penetrate 50x better immediately after the treatment.
- Your face will remain red or pink for 24-48 hours. There is a skin care regime that will be tailor made for your skin, recommended by the aesthetician.
What are some other uses of the Dermapen?
- Prior to Levulan treatment for precancerous lesions, areas of concern can be treated with the Dermapen to allow for much better penetration of the Levulan.
- There might be some benefit when used in combination with the laser for tattoo removal.
- Chemical Peels will have better penetration and become more aggressive if Dermapen precedes placement of the peel.
- Stretch marks can be improved, particularly when topicals are used immediately afterwards.
- Although still experimental, there might be some benefit in treating areas of melasma followed by intensive topical therapy with hydroquinones and retin A.
PRP is “Platelet Rich Plasma”, a portion of whole blood that is separated from the red blood cells through centrifuging. It should contain concentrations of platelets that are at least 4 times that of what is found in whole blood to get the maximum benefits. Its use in medical conditions started in the 1990’s mainly by Orthopedic Surgeons, Dentists, and Oral Surgeons, but has recently been expanded to the Cosmetic Surgery arena.
(Please note: Not all PRP is the same! Most PRP systems don’t get the concentration of the platelets above the 4x level needed to get the full benefits from PRP. The system that has proven to have consistent 4-7x concentrations is the Magellan “TruPRP” system. It cost much more that the other systems, but the results will be superior to all other PRP systems available on the market. In a recent lecture that Dr. Weiner attended in Paris at IMCAS 2014, 13 different PRP machines were evaluated. Some systems didn’t even result in platelets that had higher concentrations than whole blood!)
When an injury occurs in the body, platelets are the “first responders”. Platelets have been found to contain the following growth factors and cytokines:
- Platelet derived growth factors
- Transforming growth factor beta
- Fibroblast growth factor
- Insulin-like growth factor 1
- Insulin-like growth factor 2
- Vascular endothelial growth factor
- Epidermal growth factor
- Interleukin 8
- Keratinocyte growth factor
- Connective tissue growth factor
PRP use in hair restoration began during hair transplantation 5-7 years ago. Surgeons found that bathing the harvested hair follicles led to improvements in the “take” of the transplanted follicle as well as more hair growth, and denser hair growth. Injecting PRP in the harvested area led to improved healing of the scar. It was then discovered that when PRP was then injected into areas of hair loss without transplanting hair, that there was new hair growth. Adding ACell (a derivative of porcine bladder) and Vitamin D3 and B complex gave even further improvements. In a study published in “Prime” Journal, patients were found to have improvements in their hair growth from 12-63%, and notably, there was improvements in all the patients studied. Growth seems to start at about 4 months, and starts to fade at about 11 months. Improvements are more dramatic in females than in males.
The mechanism proposed for the improvements seen is that the PRP leads to increased vascularization of the hair follicles, leading to a “waking up” of previously poorly perfused hair follicles. The growth factors also stimulate the hair follicles to produce hair.
Interesting findings have been thickening of hairs that have been growing but have miniturized (become thin). It will not cause hair to grow in areas of scarring or in areas where there was never hair. It’s also been found that new hair growth is sometimes pigmented in areas where hair had turned gray, representing a “youthful” follicle.
Recommendations are for at least one treatment yearly for females, and 2 for males. Topicals such as Rogaine or Propecia should be continued.
The process starts by drawing blood, 60-120cc. It is put in the Magellan processor to separate the PRP, which takes about 15 minutes per 60cc of blood. During this time, the scalp in numbed up with both topical creams as well as injections. When numb, the scalp in injected with the vitamin and mineral mixture as well as with the ACell solution. The PRP injection in then performed. The final process is using the Dermapen microneedling device to create very fine holes in the scalp. A by product of the Magellan PRP system is “PPP” which is platelet poor plasma. PPP has growth factors, but to a lesser degree than PRP. This solution is spread on top of the scalp and will be left there overnight. Washing the hair can be done the following morning. Sometimes extra PPP will be given to the patient to apply to the scalp at home. The total in office time is about an hour or an hour and 15 minutes. A second treatment (for men) is scheduled at 2-3 months.
Dr. Weiner is a Facial Plastic Surgeon who laid down his scalpel in 2005 and concentrates solely on noninvasive and minimally invasive Cosmetic Procedures. He is Johns Hopkins trained and Board Certified.