CLC concept for face, neck and/or lower neckline lift

Skin ageing

Skin ageing occurs over the years as a completely natural process. The speed and extent to which the skin ages is determined partly by genetics and partly by external factors. Lifestyle also plays an important role in skin ageing. In general, women tend to be more concerned about ageing skin than men. 

What is skin ageing?

The natural ageing process of the skin usually starts from the age of about 25 years. The skin produces less collagen and the elasticity of the dermis gradually begins to decrease. The dead skin cells are rejected less quickly and the conversion into new skin cells becomes slower. Among other things, this manifests itself over time in the sagging of the skin and the formation of lines, which we popularly call 'wrinkles'. Although these changes are introduced at an early age, the effects are only visible decades later. Faster for one person than another.

What are the causes of skin ageing?

In addition to the natural ageing process, there are many other causes that can play a role in the speed and extent to which the skin ages. A few examples are: illness, the use of medicines, smoking, stress, lack of sleep, excessive exposure to UV rays from the sun or the use of a sunbed, regular use of hormone ointments, lack of exercise and poor nutrition.

Symptoms of skin ageing

The possible symptoms are especially visible on the epidermis. You can recognise a number of ageing characteristics yourself, such as irregular pigmentation, diffuse redness or fine veins (couperose), but also a coarser texture, line formation, crow's feet around the eyes and/or mouth, lowered eyebrows, hamster cheeks whereby the jaw contours disappear, sagging eyelids and a sagging neck.

Skin rejuvenation: from plastic surgery to laser surgery

Skin rejuvenation used to be possible only through plastic surgery. In applications, such as a facelift or neck lift, the surgeon loosened the skin subcutaneously and pulled it up towards the ears, where the skin was sutured and the excess skin surgically removed. The advantage of this technique is an immediate and noticeable change as a result. The disadvantages are that the face changes shape to a certain extent and scars appear around the ears. In addition, a surgical technique will never improve the quality of the remaining skin.

Since the nineties of the last century, we have experienced important developments in laser surgery, which meant a solution to these disadvantages. Year after year, new appliances come onto the market that not only deliver better results, but also cause fewer and fewer temporary inconveniences. Many of these devices complement each other because they work at different depths or affect other components of the skin.

Pioneers with an extensive range of complementary skin rejuvenation techniques

The Cutaneous Laser Centre (CLC) in Aalter has always been a forerunner in the application of laser treatments of the skin. In recent years, however, evolutions have accelerated to such an extent that more and more physicians have started to use these techniques. However, many of these new centres apply one or at most two of the newer techniques. The CLC has more than eight different devices, each of which has and will continue to have its own value.

When choosing an individual treatment programme, we always take into account the wishes and expectations of the patient. For example, some patients do not want any visible healing phase and prefer to have several more treatments, while others want to see the best possible result as soon as possible. Some treatments we prefer to do during the winter time, other treatments can be applied in sunnier times. In addition, some patients have a higher pain threshold than others.

But one thing is certain: all our treatments are characterised by a natural result and do not run the risk of scarring. In our experienced hands, the risk of complications is almost negligible.

Which different techniques do we apply at the CLC?

1. UltraPulse CO2 laser with FX120 scanner: fractional resurfacing

This is still the gold standard among skin rejuvenation or resurfacing techniques in which we achieve both epidermal and dermal improvement. Numerous very fine skin columns are removed from the depths of the dermis by evaporation. Due to the heat effect, the collagen will shrink naturally, after which new collagen is produced with a delay so that a total epidermal renewal occurs. In the complete treatment programme we prefer to apply this technique at least once. Simply because on the one hand, the unparalleled epidermal renewal which is characterised by an improvement of the texture and an equalisation of the colour differences resulting from the ageing process, and on the other hand, because UltraPulse resurfacing is the laser technique par excellence that achieves the best results in a single treatment for sagging and wrinkled skin. After applying this technique, you will need a week to heal. We prefer to plan such treatments during the autumn or winter, as the sun must be avoided at least one month prior to and one month after the treatment. For people who can only take time off in the summer, we recommend applying SPF50+ sun protection every two hours.

2-3. Titan and Venus Freeze: skin tightening

Titan with its infrared light source provides a safe, non-surgical technique that strengthens the skin and reduces the signs of skin ageing. This device heats the dermis so that the collagen contracts. Continuous cooling ensures that the epidermis remains unaffected. But, the Titan also stimulates the formation of new collagen, which results in a slightly more youthful skin type. At the CLC, we always combine this technique with the Venus Freeze device, which operates on the basis of multipolar radio frequency and a pulsed magnetic field. This device, in turn, provides a more moderate warming of the skin, which significantly increases the result. The major advantage of this application is that half an hour after the treatment you will hardly notice any initial redness and there will be no visible healing process remaining. Many patients also choose this technique as an annual maintenance treatment to stabilise the result of previous procedures.

4. PicoWay Resolve: skin tightening

The PicoWay Resolve may revolutionise skin firming and rejuvenation devices. Originally marketed for the treatment of tattoos, the PicoWay is the most powerful picosecond laser in the world. The new fractionated holographic Resolve handpieces cause 'laser induced optical breakdown' (LIOB) at different depths in the dermis as a result of plasma formation, while the epidermis remains intact. The secondary repair process, which is invisible to the outside world, causes 'remodelling' and tightening of the skin and can also lead to a certain degree of improvement in the elasticity of the skin. This treatment is virtually painless. Moderate redness for a number of hours is the only inconvenience you will experience. The following day, there is nothing left to see.

5. HIFU-based UltraLift: lifting of the neck and jawlines

The UltraLift is based on High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) or high intensity ultrasound. This device is preferred for the treatment of sagging skin at the level of the neck and jawline. We have three treatment cassettes which, by means of vibration resonance, place rows of coagulations points under the skin surface at a depth of 1.5 mm, 3 mm and 4.5 mm, respectively, which elicit collagen contraction and collagen synthesis. The 4.5 mm head also causes lipolysis under the chin (breakdown of more than 50% of the fatty tissue) and a tightening of the SMAS (superficial muscular aponeurotic system, i.e. the flat, white membrane that surrounds the tendons). The moderately painful treatment (especially sensitive on the jaw edges) is effective. Your environment will not notice anything regarding the healing process, but the result is impressive.

6. iNus: eyelid correction

The iNus stands for a micro-needle fractional radio frequency technology. An important advantage of the iNus device compared to the competing Infini system is the vacuum skin aspiration. This technique ensures that the ends of the micro needles are always perfectly placed at the adjustable pre-set depths and, at the same time, blocks the blood flow and the nerve impulses. This significantly reduces the pain, bleeding and other side effects. The iNus device operates on two different frequencies (0.5 MHz and 2 MHz) which cause a different coagulation pattern (0.5 MHz fine and elongated; 2MHz broad and shorter). The heat generated between 60 and 80 °C ensures local coagulation. This causes the collagen to contract and gradually remodel, creating a lifting effect and improving the texture. Afterward, you will rarely experience any inconvenience. A print line from the edge of the vacuum system can easily be camouflaged. The iNus system is our preferred treatment for blepharochalasis (puffiness under the eyes or overhanging upper eyelids) and dark circles around the eyes.

7. Classic UltraPulse CO2 laser resurfacing: removal of skin thickening

The UltraPulse CO2 or evaporating laser, equipped with the 1 mm focused handpiece, is mainly used to remove excessive thickening of the skin. We specifically target rhinophyma, the typical pronounced thickening of the nasal skin that appears due to repeated inflammations caused by rosacea. In this application, the entire epidermis is lasered away by evaporation using a sculpting technique.

8-10. Non-ablative skin rejuvenation

The Icon G is a system that produces a very powerful light wave of certain wavelengths (Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)), which is selectively absorbed by the tissue of the deeper skin layers. This allows for the elimination of both vascular (couperose) and pigment-related colour differences in the skin of the lower neck area (heliodermia).

We can also use the PicoWay pigment laser (532 nm) for pigmentations. While we prefer the Cutera Excel V 532 nm Nd-YAG laser for thicker telangiectasia (visible blood vessels in the context of skin couperose).

The advantage of all these techniques

The main advantage of using these various procedures is that skin rejuvenation occurs gradually and changes in collagen come about naturally. Because the changes do not occur drastically, the improvements never look unnatural. The advantage of our treatment method is also the most common disadvantage: one quickly becomes used to the slow natural improvements and they are also less abruptly noticed by your environment. For this reason, we systematically take comparative shots with a special three-dimensional camera (Vectra 3D) that objectively shows the predictable and clear improvements.

Predictability of the improvement after skin rejuvenation of the face and neck

Although it is expected that in the vast majority of patients an objective and very clear improvement will take place after the individually set treatment programme, the degree and speed of improvement for an individual patient can never be predicted with 100% certainty. If there is insufficient improvement, the treatment programme can be continued in a modified form until a satisfactory result is obtained.

Possible complications

For most of the skin rejuvenation techniques described above and performed by us, complications are virtually excluded. The serious complications after application of an UltraPulse CO2 laser fractionated resurfacing that are described in the literature, have never occurred at the CLC. The seldom occurring minor complications are always quick and easy to treat without lasting consequences. The possible minor complications are described in more detail in a separate declaration of consent, which we will always give you when this treatment is included in the planning.

"We treat every patient as if they were a member of our own family."

"He who never does anything, can never be wrong" is both a truth and a cliché. It is actually a philosophical attitude that perfectly expresses the fact that in the course of life certain less favourable things can occur, without anyone consciously choosing to bring these about. Those who cannot accept this truth can simply choose to accept the natural ageing process. A predictable improvement to natural skin ageing can only be achieved through active treatment. However, active treatment is always a form of controlled skin damage after which a more predictable reaction in the form of healing follows. In the vast majority of patients, the healing response results in an expected improvement. However, there can be no improvement without the initial controlled damage.

A good education, optimal training, experience and the decision to always treat with the highest quality equipment make major complications virtually non-existent after application of the above techniques at our laser centre. We treat each patient like they were a part of our own family. We never take risks. In principle, we prefer to opt for a slightly less pronounced result per treatment without taking any risks than to take risks that could lead to permanent damage. Safety first.

CLC skin rejuvenation techniques always according to our system-mediated concept

For us, it remains a priority to strive for the best possible natural-looking aesthetic improvement. In all controlled studies with large patient groups, there are always people who improve faster than others and there are also people who ultimately get greater results from the treatment than others. But we remain convinced that even with slower and less significant results per treatment, an effective objectifiable improvement can ultimately be achieved through a good treatment plan. To this end, at the CLC, we use a unique concept of system-mediated lifting techniques. One technique may be less effective for a specific patient. By working with various skin rejuvenation systems based on different, usually complementary, mechanisms of action, we can work more towards the desired result. Dermatologists, plastic surgeons, general practitioners and patients rely on our knowledge and competence, which we build upon year after year through education, training and experience. 

Are side effects to be expected in the long term?

Each of the treatments we apply as part of this CLC concept also improves the vitality of the skin. In addition to an aesthetic objective, treatment also has its medical therapeutic value. There are currently no scientific arguments to suggest any adverse consequences in the longer term from this type of treatment technique. In fact, we hope that one day, long-term studies will reveal a protective effect against ageing degeneration.