The effect of topical anesthetic hydration on the depth of thermal injury from the plasma skin regeneration device


  • Conflict of Interest Disclosures: All authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none were reported.
  • This work was presented as a poster at the 2009 American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery Annual Conference in Washington, DC.


Background and Objectives

The plasma skin regeneration (PSR) device delivers thermal energy to the skin by converting nitrogen gas to plasma. Prior to treatment, hydration of the skin is recommended as it is thought to limit the zone of thermal damage. However, there is limited data on optimal hydration time. This pilot study aims to determine the effect of topical anesthetic application time on the depth of thermal injury from a PSR device using histology.

Study Design/Materials and Methods

PSR (1.8 and 3.5 J) was performed after 0, 30, or 60 minutes of topical anesthetic application. Rhytidectomy was then performed and skin was fixed for histologic analysis. Four patients (two control and four treatment sites per patient) undergoing rhytidectomy were recruited for the study. Each patient served as his/her own control (no hydration). A scoring system for tissue injury was developed. Epidermal injury, the presence of vacuolization, blistering, damage to adnexal structures, and depth of dermal collagen changes were evaluated in over 1,400 high-power microscopy fields.


There was a significant difference in the average thermal injury score, depth of thermal damage, and epidermal injury when comparing controls to 30 minutes of hydration (P = 0.012, 0.012, 0.017, respectively). There was no statistical difference between controls and 60 minutes of hydration or between 30 and 60 minutes of hydration. Epidermal vacuolization at low energy and patchy distribution of thermal injury was also observed.


Topical hydration influences the amount of thermal damage when applied to skin for 30 minutes prior to treatment with the PSR device. There was a trend toward decreasing thermal damage at 60 minutes, and there was no difference between treatment for 30 or 60 minutes. The data suggest that application of topical anesthetic for a short period of time prior to treatment with the PSR device is cost-effective, safe, and may be clinically beneficial. Lasers Surg. Med. 46:127–131, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.