Lasers give a lift to aging skin

Aug. 1, 1995
This is the season when the summer sun beckons us outdoors from the laboratories and offices where most of us spend our working days. Gardening, swimming, and other recreational pursuits seem more enjoyable when the sun is shining. Today, however, we are advised to cover u¥exposed skin and slather on UV-absorbing ointments to screen out the potentially hazardous rays. Still, despite warnings to the contrary, many people think a light summer tan looks healthy, and they prefer not to worry abo

This is the season when the summer sun beckons us outdoors from the laboratories and offices where most of us spend our working days. Gardening, swimming, and other recreational pursuits seem more enjoyable when the sun is shining. Today, however, we are advised to cover up exposed skin and slather on UV-absorbing ointments to screen out the potentially hazardous rays. Still, despite warnings to the contrary, many people think a light summer tan looks healthy, and they prefer not to worry about its effects 20 years down the road.

Developers of laser technology now offer a panacea to those who have developed wrinkles from spending too much time in the sun. "Skin resurfacing" is a hot area of dermatology, and laser scanning of the skin surface seems to be a promising tool to restore smooth ness to sagging skin. Contributing editor Kathy Kincade describes the technique and its effects in her article on p. 57.

It looks as if lasers and dermatology have a bright future, albeit for mostly cosmetic reasons. Over the past several years, lasers have been approved to treat port-wine stains, remove tattoos, minimize varicose veins, and eliminate other external conditions. Too much sun isn't the only cause of wrinkling skin; the aging process is also a culprit, and people who are vain enough to try to halt it (and wealthy enough to fight it) now can look to laser treatment. Lasers were recently approved for hair removal, so maybe someday we'll see a "high-tech laser salon," where patrons can "wash away the gray," eliminate unwanted hair, and restore their skin to youthful smoothness. Imagine the excitement as another chapter in the laser industry unfoldsfrom Star Wars to beauty salons!

Real-world applications

On a more serious note, other articles this month look at various applications of lasers and electro-optics in the real world. While researching positioning systems for this month's Product Focus (see p. 89), associate editor Rick DeMeis was surprised to find how diverse the applications are for these ubiquitous systems. Very fine, accurate, and smooth adjustments are possible from older devices such as stepper motors and, as Rick says, "getting there is half the fun!" Fiberoptic communications are explained by contributing editor Tom Higgins in this month's Back to Basics (see p. 67). Using excimer lasers to manufacture inkjets for printers is described on p. 81, and another article illustrates how semiconductor manufacturing techniques can be used to form silicon thermopile sensors (see p. 77).

About the Author

Heather W. Messenger | Executive Editor

Heather W. Messenger (1955-1998) was Executive Editor for Laser Focus World.

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