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Benefits to Combining Laser Modalities

Effectively treating vascular and pigmented lesions — from common facial telangiectasias to more challenging hemangiomas — relies on identifying the appropriate tools and then honing one’s technique to achieve the best results. However, more often than not, patients want to make the most of their sessions by undergoing concomitant facial resurfacing to improve wrinkles and texture changes related to repeated sun exposure, according to William F. Groff, D.O., who practices alongside aesthetic laser pioneer, Richard Fitzpatrick, M.D., at the La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Centre, in La Jolla, Calif. In these cases, Dr. Groff tells Cosmetic Surgery Times, a combination of two or more lasers is often the best approach. Here, Dr. Groff offers tips and perspective on wrinkle and vascular and pigmented lesion treatment strategies that result in patients whose post-procedure appearance is ultimately the best form of marketing.

RESULTS DELIVERED The most common facial lesions that patients request treatment for are wrinkles, telangiectasias and solar lentigines according to Dr. Groff, who adds that these are followed in frequency by rosacea, melasma, cherry angiomas and spider angiomas.

“Facial telangiectasias, cherry angiomas and spider angiomas are fairly easy to treat if you have the right tools,” says Dr. Groff. They can all be treated very safely and effectively with pulsed dye lasers (PDLs) in just one or two sessions. “PDL has a long track record and is certainly considered the gold standard, so if the practitioner wants to treat both vascular and pigmented lesions, the PDL is one unit that can be counted on to deliver reliable, predictable and safe results. We have about 20 lasers in our practice and the PDL is probably the safest. The chance of having a problem or complication is extremely rare.”

Dr. Groff’s technique for facial telangiectasias comprises the use of a Candela V-beam Perfecta PDL, using the 10 mm spot size with 7.5 to 10 J/cm2. “I would usually use a 6, 10 or 20 ms pulse duration [depending on the size of the vessels], and it could take anywhere from one to three sessions at the most,” he explains. Larger vessels require treatment with longer pulse durations. David J. Goldberg, M.D., J.D., adds that, “A variety of other lasers and light sources can also be successfully and safely used to treat such vascular lesions. Among the more popular wavelengths besides the 595 PDL are the 532, 940, 980 and 1064 nm wavelengths.” Dr. Goldberg is director of Skin Laser & Surgery Specialists of NY/NJ, and clinical professor of dermatology/director of laser research at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in NYC.

There is a high demand for facial laser resurfacing in Dr. Groff’s practice and almost every person who comes in for resurfacing has brown spots and telangiectasias. “But no matter what kind of fractional resurfacing device you use, most telangiectasias and some brown spots remain.” To get the best results, Dr. Groff recommends using a combination of lasers. “There’s not one box that does it all and does it all the best,” he says.

For a patient who has facial telangiectasias, solar lentigines and wrinkles, Dr. Groff recommends using the PDL to remove the capillaries, the PDL or Q-switched alexandrite to remove the lentigines, then immediately treating with fractional CO2 resurfacing all in one session. “The results are much better than if you use any of these technologies alone,” he says. “Dr. Fitzpatrick and I have been doing these combination treatments for years, and we’ve never had any complications from combining lasers in one session. Our results are excellent and patients appreciate not having to come back for separate treatments, which would incur more social downtime. There’s a synergistic effect where the results are much better when these treatments are done at the same time, in comparison to doing them separately,” he adds.

Taking the synergistic effect one step further, Dr. Groff recommends pretreating with BOTOX around the glabella, the forehead and the crow’s feet area one to two weeks before performing fractional resurfacing. “If you do this, those muscles are relaxed so they’re not contracting and etching lines into freshly resurfaced skin,” he explains.

STACKING TREATMENTS In the majority of these cases, patients who are seeking resurfacing and treatment for telangiectasias also want to be rid of the vertical upper lip “smokers’ lines” that are commonplace among women over the age of 40. “The gold standard for erasing these lines is still traditional multiple pass CO2 laser resurfacing in combination with erbium laser resurfacing. So even though fractionated CO2 will soften the lines, if the patient wants those lines to be gone you still need multiple pass CO2 and erbium laser resurfacing,” he explains. “In our practice, if we’re going to resurface a woman’s facial skin, we’ll use a fractional CO2 over the entire face with the exception of the upper lip where we’ll perform traditional multiple pass CO2 and erbium resurfacing in addition to using the PDL and the Q-switched alexandrite laser to address the telangiectasias and brown spots, respectively. We use these lasers back to back in the same treatment session. That’s really the way to get the best results,” Dr. Groff says. With regard to these challenging upper lip lines, Dr. Goldberg adds that, “Although fractional nonablative lasers do not typically lead to improvement of upper lip lines, many clinicians have also seen great results from ablative fractional lasers emitting 2790, 2940 and 10,600 nm wavelengths.”

For pigmented lesions, Dr. Groff opts for Candela’s TriVantage, a Q-switched alexandrite laser, which delivers energy through a fiber optic cable, giving it a homogeneous result with less variation from pulse to pulse. “We consider this laser the workhorse of our practice. It’s fast and extremely effective,” he says. The TriVantage offers Q-switched 1064 nm and 532 nm wavelengths, as well as a 755 nm wavelength, so, in addition to treating pigmented lesions, it is also effective for tattoo removal of many colors. “Previously removing multicolor tattoos meant using multiple lasers, but with the TRiVantage we’re able to remove all colors except for white, yellow and fluorescents,” he says.

Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory eruption of the face that may significantly impair patients’ lives, leading to considerable emotional distress and behavioral withdrawal from normal social interactions. One of the most famous rosacea patients (and exceptionally well involved in the society) is President Bill Clinton, who has mild erythematotelangiectatic rosacea and all means and tools to control it.

Mild cases of rosacea are very common in people of all ages – see pictures.

It’s easy to see why rosacea and the facial erythema could have a tremendous impact on the quality of life. There is a growing body of research and conteolled studies, Nuno Menezes MD et al of the Servio de Dermatologia do Centro Hospitalar de VN de Gaia/Espinho in Portugal is one of the recent and better ones on the pulsed dye laser, which reinforces the idea that aesthetic laser usage for the treatment of erythematotelangiectatic rosacea is very efficient.

Laser treatments administered by dermatologists and aesthetic physicians selectively target hemoglobin, the predominant protein in red blood cells: oxyhemoglobin (the oxygen-loaded bright red form of hemoglobin) and deoxyhemoglobin (the oxygen-unloaded purple-blue form). Several laser wavelengths are proved to be very efficacious in the treatment of vascular lesions – because of the high level of absorption by hemoglobin.

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  • Filed under: LT | rosacea, LT | vascular
  • Facial Plast Surg. 2005 May;21(2):117-9

    Authors: Carniol PJ, Price J, Olive A

    Recently, a dual-wavelength 532/940-nm laser has become available for treatment of facial vascular lesions as an alternative to the flashlamp pumped-dye lasers. Most facial vascular lesions will respond to the 532-nm wavelength. However, some of the larger and deeper lesions are resistant to this laser. The 940-nm wavelength can be used to treat these resistant lesions. Sixteen patients with 532-nm laser-resistant vascular lesions were treated with the 940-nm laser. Fourteen of these 16 patients had improvement in their telangiectasia in response to these treatments. Most facial l telangiectasias respond well to treatment with the 532-nm laser. However, some of the larger and deeper lesions will not respond well to this laser. The 940-nm wavelength laser can be used to treat these 532-nm laser resistant lesions.

    PMID: 16049890 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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  • Filed under: Device Review, LT | vascular
  • Cynosure has a new machine for the American Academy of Dermatology’s 67th Annual Meeting in San Francisco – Elite MPX for its Smartlipo MPX laser lipolysis workstation.

    Through the company’s patented MultiPlex(TM) technology, Elite MPX combines two wavelengths — 755nm Alexandrite and 1064 nmNd:YAG – along with Xenon Pulsed Light (XPL2) technology to create one of the industry’s most powerful workstations for vascular treatment, hair removal and skin rejuvenation. In addition, Cynosure is introducing two new intelligent delivery systems for the Smartlipo MPX workstation for laser lipolysis: SmartSense with ThermaGuide and ThermaView, the world’s first subcutaneous temperature sensing technology and thermal imaging system for Laser Body Contouring.

    Elite MPX incorporates Cynosure’s proprietary MultiPlex technology, which sequentially fires two wavelengths for more effective treatments than single-wavelength systems. A completely new software system runs the graphically enhanced Graphic User Interface, which makes its operation simple and easy.

    The workstation also features a built-in Zimmer SmartCool(R) skin cooling system that is exclusive to Cynosure. Rather than requiring a separate SmartCool device, Zimmer technology is integrated into a single compact module, saving precious office space and reducing treatment time. In addition, the Elite MPX includes eight different spot sizes, including an 18mm spot size that results in 44% more treatment area per pulse than standard spot sizes.

    “Cynosure’s Elite MPX is a powerful and versatile system that enables clinicians to customize treatments for a broad range of skin types and conditions, including sun-damaged skin, pigmented lesions, dyschromia and rosacea,” said Emil Tanghetti, M.D., Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of California, Davis and Director of The Center for Dermatology and Laser Surgery, Sacramento, California. “As practitioners, we are seeing a growing cultural diversity within our patient base, and I expect the Elite MPX will provide benefits across the spectrum of applications for these patients.”

    According to InMedica, the worldwide demand for hair removal, pigmented lesion removal and vascular lesion removal is expected to increase from $650 million in 2007 to $750 million by 2010.

    SmartSense with ThermaGuideis equipped with a thermal sensing cannula for measuring temperatures in the subcutaneous areas of the body. This technology allows the practitioner to set temperature thresholds to achieve targeted and controlled energy delivery for a safe and optimal clinical endpoint.

    The ThermaView thermal camera system measures skin surface temperature and provides a visual map of temperatures within the treatment area in order to provide a homogeneous delivery of thermal energy. This intelligence is integrated into the Smartlipo MPX system. As a result, thermal energy is delivered to a targeted temperature setting, helping to ensure the safe and effective treatment of the superficial layer of the surface area. comment

    Many people will call these advances bells and whistles. We disagree. Cynosure has come up with a lot of real technological advances rolling out this system. High capacity, large volume clinics will benefit from it, if they can afford it. All it takes to get your money back is a few hundred patients a month. Every month.

    Dr. Sujay Khandpur and Dr. Vinod K Sharma of the Department of Dermatology and Venereology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India have completed another interesting study on the use of the pulsed dye laser (PDL) in treatment of vascular dermatoses.

    They have successfully employed PDL to treat several non-vascular conditions in fair skinned individuals without producing significant pigmentary and textural complications. This study was undertaken to assess the efficacy of PD lasers in cosmetically distressing facial, vascular and non-vascular dermatoses in Indian patients with skin types IV and V.

    Materials and Methods: Nine patients of ages 7 to 55 years, with facial verruca plana (VP- 4 cases), angiofibromas (AF- 4 cases) and multiple pyogenic granulomas (PG- one case) were recruited. They had no systemic complaints. Laser parameters used were (spot size/fluence/wavelength/pulse duration):VP- 5mm/5.5-7.5J/585nm/0.45ms; AF-5mm/6-8.5J/585nm/0.45ms;PG- 5mm/7J/585 and 595nm alternately/1.5ms. Response was assessed clinically and photographically.

    Results and Conclusions: All VP lesions completely resolved after 2-4 sessions (mean 3.25 sessions), AF showed 50% regression in all cases after 2-3 sessions (mean 2.5 sessions) and ≥75% subsidence after 3-7 sessions (mean 5.5 sessions) and in PG, after 3 sessions, there was complete subsidence of small satellite lesions with moderate shrinkage of larger papules and complete resolution after 5 sessions. Complications included transient hyperpigmentation/hypopigmentation only. There was no recurrence during next 6 months. PDL offers significant cosmetic improvement in facial dermatoses in Indian patients.

    Khandpur S, Sharma VK. Efficacy of pulsed dye laser in cosmetically distressing facial dermatoses in skin types IV and V. Indian J Dermatol [serial online] 2008 [cited 2009 Feb 17];53:186-9. Available from:

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  • Filed under: LT | vascular
  • Mongolian spots are congenital hyperpigmented areas of varying size and shape and are usually confluent grayish-blue in color. They are found most frequently in the sacral region and typically disappear during childhood. Occasionally, they persist to adulthood.

    The use of Q-switched alexandrite laser treatments for Mongolian spots and examinaton of the therapeutic outcomes of 26 Japanese patients with Mongolian spots was reported in the Dermatologic Surgery, Volume 34, Number 12, December 2008 , pp. 1689-1694(6).


    A good therapeutic outcome was achieved overall, but some adult female patients subsequently developed severe postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. Sacral Mongolian spots were more laser-resistant than extrasacral Mongolian spots.


    The outcome correlated with the age of patients at the initiation of treatment; therefore, sacral and extrasacral Mongolian spots should be treated before 20 years of age. To avoid severe postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, the optimal interval between laser treatments and the use of other treatment modalities including Q-switched ruby laser, Q-switched neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet (Nd:YAG) laser, or bleaching creams should be considered.

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  • Filed under: CURRENT NEWS, LT | vascular
  • Laser-induced postinflammatory hyperpigmentation could be a limiting factor for selecting patients appropriate for the use of ruby laser in the treatment of lentigenes, especially in dark-skinned individuals.

    A controlled comparison study in a university-based laser clinic center was conducted recently and published in Dermatologic Surgery, Volume 34, Number 11, November 2008 , pp. 1465-1468(4). Ninety-one solar lentigines in patients with skin type II, III, and IV were enrolled. All patients were followed for 6 months for frequency of side effects. Before-and-after photographs and images from all follow-up sessions were taken and then assessed by a blinded dermatologist for the evaluation of side effects.


    Complete clearance was achieved in all patients. Postinflammatory dyspigmentation occurred in 7.8% patients with Fitzpatrick skin type II, 9.8% patients with type III, and 16.6 patients with type IV (p=.67); all improved over a 6-month follow-up period.


    Q-switched ruby laser treatment is a safe procedure for the treatment of solar lentigines even in dark-skinned individuals. Considering routine factors in addition to melanin content alone is required for minimizing side effects, especially postinflammatory hyperpigmentation in darker skin.

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  • Filed under: LT | vascular
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