Dermapen vs. Cosmetic Laser Treatments

What does Dermapen® do? How is it different than other skin treatment options? This infographic compares and contrasts Dermapen® with traditional light therapy tools.
Cosmetic Laser Treatments
Sterile surgical stainless micro-needles pierce the skin leading to apoptosis of cells in the dermis.
Light-thermal conversion in the dermis resulting in ablation and coagulation of proteins leading to necrosis of cells.
WHAT IT
DOES
What is Apoptosis?

Apoptosis or programmed cell death, is when a cell essentially commits suicide. This process is natural, controlled and routine. There is no inflammation caused.

What is Necrosis?

Necrosis takes place when a cell is traumatized by an external force. When a cell dies from Necrosis, the process is unnatural, disruptive and inflammation occurs. Necrosis can cause additional disruption and injury throughout the body.

The Dermapen uses eleven, 33-gauge micro needles to stimulate the dermis. Needles vertically pierce the skin to enhance rejuvenation results. Small holes are punctured at a rate of 1000/second. This proliferation of the bodys tissue continues to release growth factors from fibroblasts, keratinocytes and monocytes.
A laser “drills holes” in the skin to create a wound healing response. This leaves normal tissue around the holes to be a reservoir for fibroblasts and stem cells to migrate into the holes.
HOW IT WORKS
Scar revision
Acne Scar revision
Tattoo removal
General Dermabrasion
(increasing skin thickness, improving tone, reduction of fine lines and wrinkles)
Scar revision
Acne Scar revision
Fine Lines & Wrinkles
APPLICATIONS
FOR USE
Redness (erythema) with a slight chance of minimal swelling (edema) for about 24 hours after treatment.

Erythema and edema
up to 96 hours after
treatment.
Pain (higher in dark
skinned patients)
Persistent erythema

POSSIBLE
SIDE EFFECTS
Not relying on skin color to turn light into heat, Dermapen isn’t affected by skin type except ~ 1-3% of darker photo types.

Light based therapy is not for all skin types.

The FDA puts limits on the skin types that may be treated with a fractional laser.

SKIN
TYPE
No PIH complications reported: Dermapen® is safe for darker skin with a careful post-procedure regimen that includes sunblock.

PIH is reported in Asian, Mediterranean, and African skin types. PIH presents as symmetric hyperpigmented molecules and patches on the face. Occurs in up to 18% of patients.

Post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation can be seen in patients up to two years after a laser treatment. This occurs in up to 20% of patients with photo-aged skin.

PIH
(Post-inflammatory
Hyper-pigmentation)

SOURCES:
https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQVutJk8x6sSa-NvG5RZeFXIrb4nTzkPepki3AyLJfsOl3oqgdQRw
http://www.medgadget.com/2008/08/page/14
http://dermapen.com/dermapen-downtime/
http://tidyskin.com/can-laser-acne-treatment-cure-a-chronic-facial-rash/
http://www.fabafterfifty.co.uk/2011/10/20/how-does-laser-skin-resurfacing-work-to-improve-skin-quality/

Dermapen Vs. Laser

What makes Dermapen Different:
The closest technology to the Dermapen is a fractional laser.  A fractional laser “drills holes” in the skin to create a wound healing response and leaves normal tissue around the holes to be a reservoir for fibroblasts and stem cells to migrate into the holes.  Fractional radio frequency devices work on a similar principle and have many of the same side effects as fractional lasers (Yeung et al., 2012).  Dermapen also makes holes in the skin to create a wound healing response and leaves normal tissue around the holes.  These technologies have similar results, but achieve them in very different ways, and result in very different side effects profiles.  The laser uses light to char and obliterate epidermis to produce small pits which vary in diameter and depth, depending on the laser type (Erbium, YAG, CO2; nonablative vs ablative) and manufacturer.  Dermapen produces reproducible and consistent holes in the skin.

Side effects differ between technologies.  Most fractional lasers leave erythema and edema up to 96 hours after treatment.  Resultant downtime is approximately 3-4 days for fractional laser treatments (Gold, 2010).  Dermapen treatments result in erythema with slight chance of edema for about 24 hours.  Dermapen has none of the side effects specific to fractional lasers, such as:

  • Pain (higher in dark skined patients (Mahmoud et al., 2010)
  • Persistent erythema (Gold 2010)
  • Infections (viral and bacterial).  Facial herpes reported in 10.6% of patients in spite of antiviral prophylaxis (Naouri et al., 2011)
  • Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation in up to 18% (Vaiyavatjamai and Wattanakrai, 2011; Chan et al., 2010; Mahmoud et al., 2010; Yeung et al., 2012)
  • Postinflammatory hypopigmentation – seen in patients up to two years after a laser treatment.  Occurs in up to 20% of patients with photo-aged skin (Gold 2001).

Light based therapy is not for all skin types.  For example, the indications for use cleared by the FDA may put limits on the skin types that may be treated with a fractional laser.  For example, the indications for use may prohibit the use of the laser on Fitzpatrick 4, 5 , and 6 (darker skin colors), for example: “The EXELO2 with the fractional scanning unit is indicated for ablative skin resurfacing in people with skin types 1, 2 or 3 based on Fitzpatrick skin type scale.” K090639.  The fractional holes “drilled” by the laser are a function of skin type, skin thickness, and vascularity.  Dermapen is not affected by skin type as it does not rely on skin color to turn light into heat.

A major complication from light based therapy includes Postinflamatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) in Oriental, Mediterranean, and African skin types (Yeung et al., 2012; Metelitsa and Alster 2010; Chan et al., 2007).  PIH presents as symmetric hyperpigmented macules and patches on the face.  PIH is one of the most common and distressing pigmentary disorders seen in dermatology clinics.  It is notably difficult to treat and may relapse.  Of course, Dermapen has not reported PIH complications and thus is safe for darker skin (Fabbrocini et al., 2009).