Plasma Pen At A Glance
- Best Results2-3+ sessions
- Treatment Recovery3- 14 days
- Procedure Time30 to 60 min
- Skin SpecialistNot performed @cutis
- Duration of ResultsYears
- Back to WorkNext day
- Cost$ By aestheticians
Plasma pen is a popular entry level method to reduce skin tags, eye wrinkles, age spots, as well as providing skin tightening. This procedure is also called fibroblasting skin tightening, plasma fractional therapy, & fibroblast induction therapy. I do not perform this procedure, however I regularly treat scarring from plasma pen therapy. This page is designed to give an accurate portrayal of plasma pen indications & use.
FactsFacts on Plasma Pen
- Plasma pens & devices are cost effective treatments for skin rejuvenation
- Sea salt & coarse grit sandpaper are also cost effective modalities for rejuvenation
- Plasma pens generate plasma gas through electrical conductivity
- Plasma non-selectively desiccates tissue
- Heating of tissue can contract collagen, leading to tightening & wrinkle removal
- Heating can also destroy moles, tags, & age warts
- I do not perform plasma pen, however I will be more than happy to manage scars from this device. A referral from your doctor will be required
What is a Plasma Pen?
Plasma is a cost-effective method of converting electrical energy into plasma consisting of oxygen & nitrogen. As the gas hits the surface of the skin it creates trauma, in turn causing collagen to denature & contract. Collateral damage can also damage skin cells, in turn ‘vaporizing’ warts & skin tags.
Plasma also goes by the name of fibroblast therapy or ‘fibroblasting’ due to its effect on collagen-producing cells. To be correct, peels, microneedling, derma rollers & lasers call to have a similar effect on collagen & fibroblasts.
Plasma is not laser, hence in Australia, there is no regulation surrounding its use. A pen can be purchased for around 60 to 120 AUD online. No formal training is needed to operate plasma energy.
What areas can plasma pen treat?
The most frequently treated areas include the face, neck and chest. Plasma pen users often treat it in a dot like pattern. This pattern is given so that adjacent skin can heal up faster- much akin to fractional resurfacing or even microneedling.
The most common application of plasma include-
Face concerns: Eyelid laxity, eye bags, skin tags, wrinkles
Chest & neck concerns: Tags, lines & laxity
Body treatments: include senile warts, tags (safe) & moles (unsafe)
What are the PROs of plasma pen treatment?
The biggest PRO of plasma pen treatment is the PRICE POINT. As the cost of the pen is around $100, operators can easily recoup the cost of equipment with one or two sessions. This compares favourably with lasers that frequently cost between $120,000 to $250,000 AUD.
Plasma is akin to a swiss army knife, it can do many things but not one thing properly. Plasma can be used to treat warts, age spots, skin tags (probably the safest way to use plasma), as well as providing collagen induction or stimulation. The low- cost of a pen, coupled with many mediocre uses is a real plus for many entry level spas & entrepreneurs.
Degree of licencing & training required to perform this procedure is nil. If one has the inclination to provide treatments for eye rejuvenation, plasma pen compares favourably to say a medical degree, research time & thesis, speciality training in ophthalmology then subspeciality training in oculo-plastics. As you can see there are many PROS of starting a plasma pen service.
What are the CONS of plasma pen treatments?
I am not here to divert patients to lasers & surgery performed by the surgical fraternity of plastics, dermatologist or ophthalmologist, this page on Plasma Pen is to give a balanced view on the risks and benefits of this device. The main drawback of this treatment is the imprecise collateral damage plasma delivers which results in a higher case load of complications such as scarring & pigmentation problems. The fact that as this is NOT a laser device, there are no legislative measures prohibiting its use, nor sale in Australia & many other countries.
If budget is the primary driving factor for choosing Plasma Pen treatments, please consider seeing an aesthetician for Dermarolling, microneedling or peels. If you have warts, skin tags & barnacles, you are far safer applying over the counter wart kill carefully to the specific lesion.
For unbiased feedback on the pros & cons of plasma pens, visit realself.com & look under plasma pen. Make your decision based upon the risk benefit ratio of your research.
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Why do I not offer this treatment?
Can you light a birthday cake candle with a flamethrower? Absolutely, however there may be better options with less collateral damage. This is the same analogy with plasma pens.
Plasma pen is most frequently used around the eyes. Excessive trauma can lead to scar tissue & pattering (dots). In many cases this can lead to excessive pull with ectropion & exposure keratitis. Lasers are far safer in this area as the ‘dot’ is small, with controlled densities & power levels. Other sensible non-laser options include Tixel, microneedling, RF devices, & even chemical peels.
Who can perform a plasma pen procedure?
As plasma pens are not regulated in Australia (and many parts of the world), anyone can perform this procedure. Plasma pens can be purchased online (cost ranges from $30 to $190). There is no formal training required to perform this procedure. Plasma is not a laser, hence there are no licensing requirements.
Can plasma pens treat eye bags?
Yes, if all goes well. Eye bags are complex entities caused by processes such as ageing, as well as pathology. Some eye bags are due to volume loss, others due to overactive eye muscles (orbicularis oculi). In some cases they are due to prolapsed ligaments that hold fat bags. Plasma pens only contract the skin on top of the eye bag.
Can all skin colours be treated with a plasma pen?
No. This treatment can be performed on skin types I to III, namely lighter skin patients. Plasma knocks off the pigment cells in the epidermis known as melanocytes. Skin colour changes called hypo pigmentation can be seen after plasma. In the majority of cases pigment returns within 2-8 months. In the majority of cases hypopigmentation can be permanent, especially in darker skin types.
Paradoxical darkening can also be seen. This is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. PIH normally settles within 2 to 24 months.
If you have any doubts about the safety of plasma pens, ask your provider about performing a test spot.
Is plasma skin tightening safe?
All procedures including lasers, energy devices, chemical peels & plasma skin tightening carry risks that include skin colour changes, & scarring. When I elect to introduce a device for my staff & I to use, I have to consider a risk to benefit ratio. In the context of plasma skin tightening & resurfacing, I find this too high a risk for my patients. It doesn’t mean that the results are not effective, nor does it mean I have something against low technology (I frequently use a Derma Roller). The method I practice my craft is not conducive to the risks of this device.
How long do results from the plasma pen last?
Performed correctly, skin tightening is apparent after a few days, however like any other collagen stimulation procedure, more significant tightening will be experienced in the weeks or months following the procedure. Maximal results are seen at week 8 – 12.
The duration or longevity of the plasma pen procedure will vary between 12 to 36+ months. Many factors come into play including the density of dots, treatment level, location of plasma penning, your skin’s health as well as your level of sun protection. Be guided by your skin specialist.
Do plasma pen treatments leave scars?
The question should be does plasma leave more scarring compared to lasers & surgical procedures? In this context the risk of plasma induced scarring is much higher. This is due partially to the nature of plasma injury as well as the training of your provider.
My view on treatments is that the provider of any treatment (including fillers, Botox, lasers, plasma, & even surgical procedures such as breast implants etc…) should not only know how to perform the procedure but also deal with all the side effects associated with the procedure itself. This includes scarring, skin colour changes & infection. Plasma undoubtedly leaves more scarring compared to precise pathology dictated treatments.
Can plasma pen treat moles?
Yes, however handheld surgical blades offer better results with less scarring. These blades are simple surgical instruments that doctors, dermatologists, & plastic surgeons use on a day to day basis. They provide a clean, neat, precise level of correction without skin depigmentation seen in lasers or plasma pen treatments.
The downside of plasma pen mole treatments is that histology is not obtained. This means a melanoma can go undetected. This is especially important for patients living in Australia- where the melanoma rate is one of the highest in the World. One in sixteen people will develop melanoma at some point in their lift. If you have a mole & would like this removed, discuss options with your doctor, dermatologist, skin cancer physician or your plastic surgeon.
Disclaimer: I do not perform mole removal as a solo procedure. I do perform select mole removal as part of a surgical procedure or ablative laser resurfacing. The decision to treat moles cosmetically is based upon a risk assessment & the clinical assessment of moles as well as a family & personal history in the context of malignancy risks.
What are other safer options for skin rejuvenation?
I am not against low tech procedures as one of my most frequently used procedures is with medium to deep chemical peels. The question is what are safer options for patients? Lasers, peels, energy based devices & microneedling are far safer than plasma pen treatments. Lasers can be used to treat wrinkles, pigmentation & also provide collagen contraction. Deep peels including TCA & phenol croton oil do the same. Discuss treatment options with your dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
Davin’s Viewpoint on Plasma Pen
This is the number one energy device that gives me (and fellow dermatologists) the most grief when it comes to scarring. I see 1-2 cases per week without fail. Scars range from hypopigmentation (white), deep hyperpigmentation, hypertrophic scars as well as ‘divots’ or atrophic scars. Most of the scarring is on the neck & chest, followed by the face.
I understand that costs are probably the number one factor for patients, however if I can guide patients to see aestheticians who perform peels & microneedling, you would be in a safer environment. Lack of regulation with plasma energy as it is not a laser is partially to blame for the amount of side effects seen with this therapy.
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