Of the many trade shows and conferences I've attended over the last 20 years, the 2008 AAD meeting has been one of the most action-packed and interesting. I'm not a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon, and I don't have medical training, but I know an active, upbeat, and friendly exhibition hall when I see one. And that is how I see the haps at the Gonzalez Convention Center in downtown San Antonio. Of the many exhibits I visited on my first day at the AAD, a few companies and products stood out:

Top of the list is the re:pair CO2 laser from Reliant. I attended a demonstration of this device last night, and if what they all said is true, the re:pair is a breakthrough technology in a field where breakthroughs come few and far between. This fractional ablative laser system treats wrinkles, rhytides, furrows, fine lines, textural irregularities, pigmented lesions, and vascular dyschromia. It has reportedly been used on 500 patients in post-FDA clearance testing, and was even featured on the Today show. Dr. Christopher Zachary from UC Irvine performed a fast and furious treatment on a patient last night, and it all seemed to work beautifully. The product, which looks somewhat like a laser cannon from Star Wars, comes with a built-in smoke evacuation system and is capable of treating at depths from 300 micrometers to 1.6 mm into the dermis, all in a single hand piece.

In the same vein, I checked out the Lumenis DeepFX CO2 laser, which seems equally cool to me. A companion to the firm's UltraPulse laser, the DeepFX provides fractional treatments of scars, dermal lesions, and deep wrinkles, among other things. Practitioners can continuously adjust healing zones, ablate and contract tissue, select volume of tissue treated (0.12 or 1.3mm spot at desired depth), and stimulate long-term collagen remodeling.

From the UK comes Sophyto, the first "green" line of moisturizers, which is carbon-balanced, is certified 90% organic by the UK Soil Association, and does not contain essential oils… Dermik Labs is still awaiting approval of a cosmetic version of its Sculptra injectable "poly-L-lactic acid" product, which is now turning into one of those "vaporware" products — the Sculptra sales reps I spoke to on the show floor would not even look me straight in the eye when I asked when will it be released… Lutronic is also peddling a line of CO2 laser systems, which were demo'd for me — the Mosaic erium glass fractional laser, which is comparable to the Reliant CO2 laser product mentioned earlier, looks very impressive, as does the Spectra VRM II… Prescribed Solutions' line of rejuvenating lotions and creams now includes Stop the Clock, a multipurpose anti-aging cream that claims to "provide antioxidant protection, DNA repair, and skin listing results." The firm's CEO, David May, plans to roll out the product in April but you can buy it now from him at a discount.

The Gonzalez Convention Center offers a show floor that is convenient and easy to traverse, although the AAD's pocket guide map of the floor leaves a lot to be desired — the larger format of conventional convention guidebooks would be a help here. 

The Gonzalez food concessions are not bad, although they are gouging the conventioneers big time — $3 for bottled water? It seems that greed is alive and well in San Antonio. Outside the convention center, I got a glimpse of the famed San Antonio Riverwalk, which from a distance looks like a miniature version of the canals of Venice, or should I say a canal in Venice. Gondolas ride the calm waters of a smallish river that winds through the downtown area. The TexMex bar and grill I visited for lunch was overwhelmed by all the people coming in from the meeting, but at the water was free and the chips, salsa, and salad I ate for lunch were all tip-top.