Gregory Altshuler, PhD, joined Palomar Medical Technologies Inc (Burlington, Mass) in 1996, and is now vice president of research. Before he joined Palomar, Altshuler was chair of the Department of Quantum Electronics and Biomedical Optics at the St Petersburg (Russia) Institute of Fine Mechan-ics and Optics. He also served as vice president of research and development for Laser Medical System GmbH (Vienna) and general manager of the Laser Center of St Petersburg. He is the author of 140 papers and owner of 50 patents.

Palomar will soon introduce the LuxIR Fractional™ Infrared Handpiece, an attachment for the Palomar StarLux™ Pulsed-Light and Laser System. We talked to Altshuler about this new technology.

What does the LuxIR Handpiece do?

It delivers deep heating. The LuxIR is powered by a noncoherent light source, which produces light pulses in the 825–1800-nm range of the electromagnetic spectrum. This range allows deep penetration of light into the dermis and hypodermis.

What is the benefit of this technology?

Deep heating can provide relief of muscle and joint pain, such as from arthritis. This technology has also been shown to trigger a biological response that leads to “remodeling” of the deep dermis. This structural change can smooth out fine wrinkles and minor sagging. So far, we have US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for deep heating with the LuxIR Fractional, and we are also seeking clearance for skin tightening.

What does “fractional” refer to?

“Fractional” means that the handpiece delivers light as a regular array of small beams, with contact cooling. As a result, it creates a periodic lattice of isolated hyperthermic islets, ranging from 1.5 to 3mm in diameter, inside the deep dermis.

How is this different from previous methods of deep heating?

The illustration shows a model of skin-temperature distribution in vertical and horizontal cross-sections. The fractional method with isolated islets delivers a much safer method of treatment because overheated islets do not cause bulk damage to the surrounding tissue. In addition, the intact tissue surrounding the islets provides a quicker remodeling process.

How do you ensure skin safety during the delivery of deep-heat pulses?

The LuxIR uses three-stage contact cooling. The tip of the handpiece is constantly in contact with the skin, and it cools the skin before, during, and after every single light pulse. A patent on this technology is pending, and we are very pleased with its development.

Are there other uses for fractional technology in addition to skin tightening?

Fractional technology is a major advance because it permits faster healing times and safer treatments. We are still learning more about its uses in our clinical trials. It could be a great application for several different StarLux handpieces, so we are looking very closely at it. PSP