To elucidate the sequential changes in protein expression that play a role in the clinically beneficial results seen with fractional carbon dioxide (CO2) laser resurfacing of the face and neck.
Nine healthy volunteers were recruited for participation from the senior author's facial plastic surgery practice. After informed consent was obtained, each volunteer underwent a 2-mm punch biopsy from a discrete area of infra-auricular neck skin prior to laser treatment. Patients then immediately underwent laser resurfacing of photodamaged face and neck skin at a minimal dose (30 W for 0.1 second) with the Pixel Perfect fractional CO2 laser. On completion of the treatment, another biopsy specimen was taken adjacent to the first site. Additional biopsy specimens were subsequently taken from adjacent skin at 2 of 3 time points (day 7, day 14, or day 21). RNA was extracted from the specimens, and reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction and protein microarray analysis were performed. Comparisons were then made between time points using pairwise comparison testing.
We found statistically significant changes in the gene expression of several matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). The data demonstrate a consistent up-regulation of MMPs 1, 3, 9, and 13, all of which have been previously reported for fully ablative CO2 laser resurfacing. There was also a statistically significant increase in MMP-10 and MMP-11 levels in this data set.
This study suggests that the molecular mechanisms of action are similar for both fractional and fully ablative CO2 laser resurfacing.