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New laser treatment sheds light on sun-damaged skin
Breakthrough technology FDA-approved for clinical use

BOSTON - September 27, 2004 - Researchers at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have created a new laser technology that can be used to treat the wrinkles and skin discoloration of sun-damaged skin. Dieter Manstein, MD, and Rox Anderson, MD, director of Wellman and the MGH Dermatology Laser Center developed the concept of Fractional Photothermolysis, or Fraxel ™ Laser Treatment (FLT), to resurface skin without the downtime, side effects and/or infection risks of traditional ablative resurfacing techniques and chemical peels.

Fractional Photothermolysis works by applying laser energy to the surface of the skin a fraction at a time, creating micro thermal zones (MTZ) that are so small they are invisible to the naked eye. Areas of unaffected healthy tissue, which contain viable cells that promote rapid healing of the outer skin layers, separate the MTZ. Unlike the lengthy healing process of ablative resurfacing, which damages an entire layer of skin, this treatment has proven in clinical studies to be well tolerated - patients may even apply make-up immediately after treatment and return to routine activities within a day or two.

"I am excited about the clinical benefits that the Fraxel ™ laser may provide, " states Sandy Tsao, MD, MGH Dermatology Laser Center. "With this new approach, patients are likely to experience a softening of facial wrinkles and lightening of uneven pigmentation. Other potential benefits include the improvement of stretch marks, acne scarring and hand wrinkles. The recovery is minimal and benefits increased after a few treatments," Tsao adds.

The Fraxel ™ laser system recently was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for dermatological procedures requiring the coagulation of soft tissue and for treatment of periorbital (around the eye) wrinkles and pigmented lesions (including age spots, sun spots and skin discoloration). Reliant Technologies supported the research.

Massachusetts General Hospital, established in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $400 million and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer, cutaneous biology, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders, transplantation biology and photomedicine. In 1994, MGH and Brigham and Women's Hospital joined to form Partners HealthCare System, an integrated health care delivery system comprising the two academic medical centers, specialty and community hospitals, a network of physician groups, and nonacute and home health services.

Media Contact: Donita Boddie , MGH Public Affairs

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