FOR RELEASE: Dec. 21, 2006
GALVESTON, Texas — A new solution to a variety of skin problems promises fast results with minimal downtime, according to dermatologists with the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

The Fraxel laser was approved this year by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat wrinkles, stretch marks, melasma, pigment problems, acne scars and surgery scars, says Dr. Erica Kelly, UTMB clinical assistant professor of dermatology. UTMB’s Dermatology Clinic, located within University Hospital Clinics at Ninth Street and The Strand in Galveston, is one of only a handful of clinics in the Houston area offering the Fraxel laser treatment.

“What’s revolutionary about this treatment is that a patient can have it done on a Friday and be back at work on Monday,” Kelly says. The outpatient procedure requires local anesthetic and typically takes about 30 minutes.

The Fraxel laser passes through the top layer of skin into the dermis below to create thousands of microscopic thermal zones. These zones stimulate the production of fresh skin cells on the surface and the production of collagen beneath.

“We treat deeply, but only in little spots, affecting only about 20 percent of the skin and leaving the treated area surrounded by healthy tissue,” Kelly says. This healthy tissue promotes faster healing.

The fast recovery time is in contrast to traditional skin resurfacing techniques — called ablative, or carbon dioxide, treatments — which remove the top layer of damaged skin and result in swelling, oozing, redness and a recovery period up to a month.

Other laser alternatives to CO2 treatments have yielded less-than-impressive cosmetic results, leaving patients without much choice: either endure a long recovery or pay for a treatment that does not make much difference, Kelly says. But in clinical trials of the Fraxel laser, nearly all patients saw noticeable improvement in three to five treatments.

The laser is also quite safe, according to Dr. Sharon Raimer, head of UTMB’s Department of Dermatology. “This treatment has been well studied in clinical trials, and we feel good about providing a safe, effective alternative to ablative treatments,” Raimer says.

UTMB’s Dermatology Clinic received the laser in October 2005 and has performed over 100 treatments with positive outcomes, Kelly says, “We’re really excited about what this treatment could mean for our patients.”

For more information about Fraxel laser treatment, contact UTMB Department of Dermatology, at 772-7210.

The University of Texas Medical Branch
Public Affairs Office
301 University Boulevard, Suite 3.102
Galveston, Texas 77555-0144