Laser technology dates back to 1900. A German theoretical physicist named Max Planck discovered a relationship between frequency of radiation and energy. He deduced that energy could only be emitted or absorbed in small chunks.
The first laser that was used for clinical application was developed by Theodore Maiman, an American physicist. In 1960, he introduced a laser that was composed of a ruby rod that emitted light energy. Leon Goldman, an American surgeon, broke new ground in 1963 when he reported on the effects of the ruby laser in the photodestruction of skin elements that were pigmented. An example of this is black hair.
Goldman continued to illuminate the use of both Q-switched and ruby lasers for pigmented lesions as well as tattoo removal. He did this while studying the argon laser for vascular lesions and carbon dioxide lasers for the destruction of skin lesions. Over the following ten years, there were advancements in dermatologic photosurgery including light-based wound healing, the advent of photodynamic therapy,and the development of lasers for vascular lesions.
The 1990s saw the development of robotic scanning devices. This meant that the laser beam could be moved across to the site of treatment in a precise way. With these scanners, excessive tissue injury that came with over treating tissue by lingering for too long on one spot was less likely. Ablasive resurfacing was the next advancement in cutaneous laser surgery, and scanners also ushered this in. In order to promote collagen growth, wrinkle reduction, and skin tightening, a controlled wound was produced by resurfacing lasers into the epidermis and the dermis. On these devices, serious improvements were often achieved. However, there was a high probabilithy of scarring and hypopigmentation.
In the goal for aesthetic lasers to treat wrinkles and resurface skin safely and effectively, the next advancement of note is the development of fractionated laser technology. The first fractionated laser technology devices were available in 2004. With FT, a pattern of small laser injuries is created intervened with “skip” areas, which promote wound healing. This transformed the ability to treat wrinkles, tone, skin laxity, textures, scars, and dyschromia effectively and safely.
Now and Beyond
Lasers now have the ability to rejuvenate, resurface, and also treat vascular lesions of all sorts. In addition, they are able to remove and modulate fat, remove unwanted hair, grow hair, and reshape the body.
It’s interesting to take a look back at the history of aesthetic lasers. As we go into a new year and a new decade, it’s also interesting to consider what advancements there will be in laser technology in the years to come.