The reduction of skin laxity, also known as skin tightening, describes therapeutic alternatives to the surgical face or body lift. While still the gold standard, surgical lifting is a major procedure with inherent risks, and many patients wish to avoid the procedure altogether. Patients undergoing skin tightening treatments may also wish to stave off the need for a future face lift or simply age more gracefully. Although most often performed on the face, skin tightening may be performed on the body in popular locations such as the décolletage, upper arm, thigh, buttock, or abdominal areas.
Among the wide variety of options, energy-based modalities are among the most effective. Different procedures, alone or in conjunction, vary in invasiveness and have a range of benefits beyond reduction of laxity including improvements in fine lines and wrinkles, firmness, texture, and a general healthy glow.
Energy-based skin tightening requires the delivery of therapeutic energy to the epidermis and/or dermis for thermal coagulation of tissue and stimulation of neocollagenesis. Ablative modalities actually vaporize tissue as well, for better results but with additional risk. Adequate skin cooling maximizes patient comfort and allows practitioners to deliver more energy safely; modulation of treatment parameters allows users to customize treatment based on the condition and skin type of the individual patient, to maximize results as well as manage patient comfort and the potential for side effects. Treatment of darker skin with laser- or light/energy-based modalities can be problematic due to the increased potential for burning or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). In most cases several treatment sessions are required to fully realize outcomes.
Each system offers a different delivery method of the laser energy. Some ablate (vaporize) tissue and others heat causing a thermal effect on the tissue. Above are some examples of different delivery methods.