Expanding The Canvas


I spend the most time giving facial treatments to patients here at Maine Laser Skin Care above other procedures.  Many of my patients want to improve their appearances by reducing wrinkles, fill lines, and lessen sun-damage including visible spider veins and uneven skin tone.  As patients become more satisfied with non-invasive techniques to “turn back the hands of time” on their faces, interest in treating other areas of the body increases.

While many patients say that their faces now look younger, they simultaneously notice how much sun damage or photo-aging they have over other areas of their bodies, such as their hands, neck, and decolletage area (or upper chest, below the neck).  Since much of what I do for treatments is improve people’s aesthetic appearance, I frequently feel like an artist, hence the name of this article. Dealing with other areas of the body other than the face is “expanding the canvas”.

Botox or fillers in general do not work well to treat non-facial areas.  So which type of treatment do I use?  If there is one problem in a non-facial region that needs treatment, such as broken blood vessels, darkened “age spots” or melasma, I use a specific wavelength of laser for that skin problem.  If there is more than one type of skin damage combined with wrinkling and loss of collagen, Fraxel skin resurfacing usually works best.  Since the skin differs in thickness and sensitivity in different areas,  I have to vary the strength and depth of the Fraxel treatment.

The top, or dorsum, of the hands is easiest to treat.  Removing age spots, or “liver” spots as they are sometimes called, can restore a youthful appearance to the hands relatively quickly.  If I need to treat multiple age spots and volume loss over the hands, I use the Fraxel laser because it is the most effective long term treatment.

The neck is the most common area treated besides the face.  Many women have residual discoloration of melasma during or following pregnancy, age spots from years of sun exposure, and loss of skin volume and elasticity.  Again, I have had very good success with Fraxel on the neck.  Following treatment, almost all women notice improved appearance combined with a tightened feel and look to the skin of the area.

In the spring, as more women begin wearing fashions that exposes the upper chest, this area, also known as the decolletage area, becomes a very popular area of treatment.  Since the skin in this region is thinner, the Fraxel laser does not need to be as strong as on the face, and improvements develop faster.  Of course, as with all areas, sunblock needs to be generously and religiously used to avoid long term skin damage, even when summer has ended.

The abdomen and especially “stretch marks” can also be treated with Fraxel.  Since stretch marks are actually scars caused by stretching of the skin with pregnancy or weight, the Fraxel will improve the superficial discoloration while also rebuilding collagen below the surface, which will tighten and thin the scar making it less visible.  Fraxel also has a great website about that specific technology including “before and after” pictures of many typical conditions in many areas of the body.

I hope that I have opened your eyes to more of the other possibilities of laser and aesthetic treatments beyond the face.  The canvas of your skin can be treated with these expanding technologies in this exciting and expanding area of medicine.  If you have any questions about our treatments, feel free to call us at (207) 873-2158 or visit our web page.

P.S.–Another point I have emphasized in my blog: Don’t forget your sunblock! See our featured products.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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