A commonly prescribed treatment in the aesthetic and beauty industry at the moment is that of plasma pen rejuvenation. While in theory, it may seem as though all plasma pens "do the same thing", this is sadly not the case. Extreme caution and care should be taken when going for treatment, always check what device is being used.
The clinical effect of plasma devices on the skin is dependent on multiple factors. The simplest way to explain this is that the actual clinical result depends on:
- the energy output of the device
- the type of current applied (i.e. if the patient forms part of the circuit through the use of a grounding pad)
- the design and material of the pen's tip
- the experience and training of the operator
- the patient's skin preparation before treatment commences
Medical-grade plasma devices, as used in aesthetic medicine, rely on high-frequency energy pulses, resulting in minimised sensation during treatment. Cheaper and inferior devices use low frequencies and require a much shorter tip gap (i.e. the space between the skin and the pen's tip when the energy is released), and this can lead to unpleasant shock-like sensations on the face or the eyelids.
In aesthetic medicine, plasma can successfully treat multiple skin concerns, such as the following: scarring, stretch marks, acne, xanthelasma, warts, moles, fibromas, seborrheic keratosis, and a host of other skin lesions. However, plasma pen treatments are best known for their ability to perform non-surgical blepharoplasty (i.e. a non-surgical eyelid lift).
Non-surgical blepharoplasty using plasma is rapidly becoming an alternative to surgery.
Some of the many benefits are:
- no need for a general anaesthetic
- less downtime
- less risk of damage to the underlying muscles and tissues
- reduced risk of scarring
- no difficulties in closing the eyes post-procedure
- no threat to the patient's vision
- more affordable to patients
However, the treatment is not entirely risk-free; it is still relatively aggressive and does require a fair amount of downtime. There will also be noticeable discomfort and post-procedure swelling. Bearing all of this in mind, one should consider very carefully whether this is the kind of device or treatment you would like administered by a Doctor, or at your local beauty salon? In a medical aesthetics practice, proper post-procedure protocols are in place to tackle any potential complications or adverse reactions.
Proper pre-screening, patient selection, and skin preparation are of the utmost importance for this procedure. While plasma is ideal for patients with excessive skin laxity those with a lot of hooding in the upper lid may still opt for surgery for best results. It is for this reason, a thorough medical consultation with a Doctor is vital in preventing any misconceptions or adverse reactions. Correct procedures will require a full medical history and assessment with photographs in advance. The patient and the skin are then prepped for up to four weeks before the procedure. The preparation includes pigment inhibiting products and skin-strengthening ingredients to ensure proper healing, minimal side effects, and excellent results. The treatment itself will require the use of a local anaesthetic to ensure the procedure is done to the correct depth, to achieve the right amount of tightening and lifting, and excellent results.
Following treatment, a patient will initially have dark brown spots in all the areas treated with the plasma device; this is due to the vaporization of the tissue. These spots dissipate over seven to ten days and will flake off. Please at no point should a patient pick these off as it may potentially lead to scarring. The morning after treatment, there may be considerable swelling around the eye area, this resolves over the next 24-72 hours, time is dependant on whether both the upper and lower lids were treated at the same time.
In the hands of an inexperienced operator, the possible complications from this procedure may include suboptimal (unsatisfactory) results, asymmetry, bruising, significant long-lasting swelling, potential infection, erythema (redness), scarring, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), or hypo-pigmentation (if the treatment depth is incorrect).
Many "knock-off brands" of plasma devices are available on the market; however, the risk involved in choosing to have a non-medical treatment (particularly around one's eyes), with all the possible adverse effects, is not worth the so-called "saving".
Medical grade, registered plasma devices such as the Jett Plasma or Plexr should be the preferred devices for proper clinical treatment, and these devices should only be in the hands of a qualified, trained medical doctor.