Conference Coverage

Three distinct scenarios for treating facial redness with lasers and light



– In the clinical experience of J. Stuart Nelson, MD, PhD, patients who present for treatment of facial redness with laser or light sources fall into one of three different categories.

Dr. J. Stuart Nelson, University of California, Irvine

Dr. J. Stuart Nelson

“There’s the patient with telangiectasia without diffuse redness, the patient who has telangiectasia with diffuse redness, and the patient who has diffuse redness,” Dr. Nelson said at the annual Masters of Aesthetics Symposium. “Because the vessel sizes are different, your approach to the clinical management of each one of these patients is going to be very different.”

For patients with telangiectasia without the redness, using pulsed dye lasers with a wavelength of 585-600 nm can be effective. “If someone has a single isolated telangiectasia, it’s the simplest thing you’ll do that day in your office,” said Dr. Nelson, professor of surgery and biomedical engineering at the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic at the University of California, Irvine. “It’s like Tiger Woods putting for a 2-foot birdie. Similarly, with the millisecond green devices, you can focus the laser beam onto the spot and you will see the blood vessels go away in real time.”

Treating patients who have telangiectasia and diffuse redness requires two steps. First, treat the larger telangiectasia with pulse durations of 20 ms, he said, and then treat the global background redness with shorter pulse durations (of 3 ms and 6 ms). “You can do this with pulse dye lasers and with green millisecond devices,” he noted.

For patients who present with diffuse global redness, “you don’t have to worry about the larger blood vessels, so you’re not going to be using the long pulse durations of the laser exposure,” said Dr. Nelson, past president of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. “You’re going to be using much shorter pulse durations, because you’re targeting blood vessels that are much smaller. You’re trying to tease out that background redness.”

If you’re concerned about how a particular patient will fare, consider performing a test spot. “This allows you to check for any unusual tissue reaction and to gauge the potential success of the laser treatment you’re doing,” he said. “It allows the patient to sort of experience the swelling and healing process they’re going to be going through.”

Dr. Nelson advised against applying a “cookbook” approach to using lasers and light sources in dermatology. “Don’t memorize treatment parameters,” he said. “What you really need to do is look for the clinical endpoints. What is the tissue response you want to see? You also want to exercise caution in patients who are tanned. The epidermal melanin absorption by tanned patients can be significant, even with some of the cooling technologies we have.”

Dr. Nelson reported having intellectual property rights with Syneron/Candela.

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