Plasma is said to have the benefits of CO2 resurfacing with the safety profile of non-ablative laser treatments. Could it be the holy grail of nonsurgical skin tightening?
Plasma has quickly become a buzz word in the aesthetic specialty and a growing number of plasma devices are entering the market that may offer the possibility of complete nonablative resurfacing, including less downtime and fewer complications. But results may depend on factors such as tissue resistance and the energy arc generated between the tip of the device and the skin.1
“This is a feature of the device and the distance between the points and there are different energy outputs depending on the device being used,” writes British cosmetic surgeon Dr. Martyn King in an early paper1 addressing plasma potential in aesthetics.
What Plasma Is:
Plasma is the fourth fundamental state of matter. Comprised of ions and electrons, plasma energy is a fairly new application within the aesthetic specialty and lauded for its ability to contract tissue without epidermal vaporization or charring.
How It Works:
Noble gases, including nitrogen, helium and argon, generate plasma energy with predictable properties for enhanced safety and standardized outcomes. However, any gas can be used to generate plasma energy.“Many of the devices used in aesthetic medicine rely on the ionisation of the air between the tip of the device and the skin to generate plasma and the difference in potential between these two points produces an arc,” writes King. 1
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
4 Plasma Devices:
In a recent interview, board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Rania Agha, M.D., Chicago, Ill., told us that of the several available plasma devices her specific experience is with the Plasma Pen, which she uses to treat smaller areas, such as the upper eyelid, neckline and jowl areas. “The device actually does not touch the skin and triggers an inflammatory reaction that stimulates the collagen formation,” she explains.
Here we compare four of the plasma devices you’re likely to see on the exhibit floor at your next professional meeting:
According to Alma, the Opus Plasma is the first fractional plasma technology to enter the skin resurfacing space. It’s high-frequency unipolar RF allows physicians to address global or localized skin texture and quality concerns. It's cleared by the FDA for skin ablation and resurfacing of tissue. The plasma generation is RF energy and atmospheric pressure.
According to Energist Medical, their NeoGen Nitrogen Plasma System's “plasma is produced inside the handpiece through the combination of inert nitrogen gas and ultra-high frequency RF. The plasma is emitted in millisecond pulses; the longer the pulse, the more energy is delivered. Nitrogen molecules impact the skin’s surface and immediately transfer energy upon contact.” It is cleared by the FDA for use in the treatment of wrinkles/rhytides, superficial skin lesions, actinic keratosis, viral papillomata, seborrheic keratosis and acne scars. Its plasma generation is Nitrogen and UHF energy.
According to Apyx Medical, Renuvion energy (helium plasma and proprietary RF) allows for precisely controlled delivery of heat to tissue, with minimal thermal spread. Data show Renuvion heats tissue to 85°C just long enough for collagen to reach max contraction. Heating and cooling back to baseline happens in less than 0.75 seconds. External temperature monitoring is not required as the skin’s surface has been shown in studies not to rise more than 4°C. It's cleared by the FDA for the delivery of helium plasma to cut, coagulate and ablate soft tissue during open surgical procedures. Has received a general clearance and has not been determined to be safe or effective for use in any specific procedures for the treatment of any specific conditions. The use of the Renuvion/J-Plasma device for Dermal Resurfacing in the US is considered an off-label procedure. Its plasma generation is Hhelium and radiofrequency energy.