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From this year’s Global Aesthetic Conference, Dr. Dev Patel discusses using plasma energy for skin tightening and more.
Plasma is a relatively new technology used in the aesthetic specialty.
“[I] use it for anywhere [the patient] needs skin tightening, but very profound skin tightening,” says Dev Patel, BSc(Hons) MB BS Dip IMC RCS(ed) DFFP DPD(Dermatology) MRCGP DOccMed, Portsmouth, England, who presented on the multitude of uses of plasma in his session, “From Eyelid Lifts to Neck Lifts & Beyond – An Introduction to Plasma (the 4th State of Matter) and its Diversity in Cosmetic Practice.”
The Oxford Dictionary defines plasma as:
An ionized gas consisting of positive ions and free electrons in proportions resulting in more or less no overall electric charge, typically at low pressures (as in the upper atmosphere and in fluorescent lamps) or at very high temperatures (as in stars and nuclear fusion reactors).
For aesthetic purposes, plasma energy is referred to as ‘cold plasma,’ as it “generates at temperatures little above room temperature, at atmospheric pressure and with only about 1ppm of gas actually being charged into plasma.”1
“The beauty of plasma is that it's an energy that can be very focused, very precise in a whole host of applications in dermatology and cosmetic practice.”
According to Dr. Patel, he uses plasma to treat excess skin on the upper and lower eyelids and the neck. He also uses it for lesion removal. “…particularly flat lesions, which otherwise would have to be cut out,” he says. Other applications include acne, scarring and tattoo removal, though he does not perform these himself.
Dr. Patel tells his patients that the device, which is handheld with a fine metal tip, doesn’t touch their skin when in use.
“You rely on about a half a millimeter gap between the tip of the probe on the skin and you’re using [the] device to ionize the air in that space to create plasma and then you see a little arc and the arc is what’s hitting the skin and causing something called sublimation,” Dr. Patel explains.
When plasma energy is used on the skin, the skin tissue is turned from solid to gas without going through a liquid stage. This prevents thermal damage to surrounding tissue.
According to a study published in Pinnacle Medicine and Medical Sciences, using plasma on induced cutaneous lesions in rabbits found that the basement membrane remained intact in all samples, meaning that it only targeted the surface skin.2
It’s because the plasma technology only targets the surface layer of the skin, that the technology works so effectively, according to Dr. Patel.
“You’re not working through the whole skin, just on the surface,” he says. “It replaces that skin with some carbon crust that will fall off after about a week. Over a few weeks you’ll regenerate and make new skin, but that new skin will have healthier younger collagen and elastin levels, thus giving you that skin tightening.”