The Food and Drug Administration, which has received criticism in the past for allowing risky devices like electronic muscle stimulators to go into the stores uncontested, has just given its approval for Palomar Medical Technologies to go over-the-counter with its light-based LED laser. This new toy uses a light-emitting diode to supposedly stimulate normal skin growth and reduce wrinkles.
I spoke to three top dermatologists at NYU Langone Medical Center - which has one of the top dermatology programs in the world - and all three said the same thing. They said the laser was most likely quite safe, and it's very unlikely it will damage the eye - but it is not likely to be effective, is expensive, and may only remove the tiniest wrinkles with prolonged use 20 to 30 minutes, twice a day. So in evaluating the FDA's performance here, score one for safety, but zero for effectiveness and cost. And don't expect National Health Insurance to cover the cost of this one.
If you really want to help your skin and decrease your chance of wrinkles, then use sunscreen, eat and sleep properly, exercise and don't smoke.
Dermatologists are now using new kinds of lasers to remove wrinkles, known as fractionated CO2. These are VERY effective, but can only be done by highly-trained doctors.
If you are serious about your wrinkles, (or have to appear on High Definition TV) see your dermatologist. Do-it-yourself lasers that are now being marketed for home use may be used for attacking the tiniest wrinkles, but should not be a primary treatment. The FDA needs to crack down on the devices they approve. This one is okay, except that it is expensive (several hundred dollars) and largely placebo.
Dr. Marc Siegel is an internist and associate professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. He is a FOX News medical contributor and writes a health column for the LA Times, where he examines TV and movies for medical accuracy. Dr. Siegel is the author of "False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear"and "Bird Flu: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic." Read more at www.doctorsiegel.com
Marc Siegel MD is a professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Medical Center. He is a medical analyst and reporter for Fox News since 2008. His upcoming book concerns a mysterious viral outbreak.