Conference Coverage

Microneedling plus 10% TCA peels bests CO2 laser alone for infraorbital dark circles



In a study of patients with mild to moderate infraorbital dark circles, treatment with carbon dioxide laser resurfacing did not produce a significant improvement in infraorbital hyperpigmentation. However, the combination of microneedling and 10% trichloroacetic acid peels did.

Department of dermatology, Ankara University School of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey

Dr. Banu Farabi

The finding comes from what is believed to be the first head-to-head comparison of the two procedures for infraorbital dark circles, which are a common cosmetic concern with increased age.

During a late-breaking abstract session at the virtual annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, lead study author Banu Farabi, MD, said that dark circles seen in the periorbital area are defined as bilateral, round homogeneous pigmented macules whose etiology is thought to be multifactorial. Available treatments include bleaching creams, topical retinoids, chemical peels, lasers, autologous fat transplantation, injectable fillers, and blepharoplasty.

“Microneedling has been recently suggested as an effective and efficient method for reducing infraorbital dark circles,” Dr. Farabi said. “This technique is based on creating microchannels that can stimulate the production of subcutaneous collagen and elastin. It also enhances the revascularization and fibroblast activity, which increases the skin thickness and gives a shiny appearance to the skin. The fractional CO2 has also been introduced as an effective procedure to remove infraorbital dark circles. However, there are some potential complications with that therapy.”

For the current study, Dr. Farabi, of the department of dermatology at Ankara (Turkey) University, and Mohamad Goldust, MD, of University Hospital Basel (Switzerland), randomly assigned the 62 patients with mild to moderate infraorbital dark circles to receive microneedling and 10% trichloroacetic acid peels or carbon dioxide laser resurfacing monthly for three consecutive sessions. They used the handheld Automatic Microneedle Therapy System-Handhold from MCure. After creating microchannels, the investigators topically applied 10% trichloroacetic acid peels to each infraorbital area and waited for 5 minutes.

In the carbon dioxide laser group, a Lutronic CO2 laser was used with a pulse energy of 10 J/cm2, a 100-microsecond pulse rate, 30 W of power, and a pulse width of 4 mm. The treatment outcome was assessed with the patient’s satisfaction and the physician’s judgment, which were no response, partial response, and complete response. Patients in both study groups were followed up for blinded-investigator assessment of infraorbital hyperpigmentation, adverse events, and improvement, compared with baseline.

The mean age of patients was 40 years, with a range between 27 and 58 years. About one-third of patients in each group had Fitzpatrick skin types II, III, and IV, respectively. In the blinded investigator assessment, the laser-resurfacing procedure did not demonstrate a significant improvement in infraorbital hyperpigmentation at day 90 (P = .24). However, the combination of microneedling and 10% trichloroacetic acid peels significantly improved infraorbital hyperpigmentation by day 90, with improvement maintained through day 180 (P = .012 and .002, respectively).

Adverse events were mild and temporary in both groups. In the laser-resurfacing group, 7 of the patients (22.5%) developed transient infraorbital hyperpigmentation postoperatively that lasted 4 weeks. In the combination treatment group, 18 patients (58%) developed transient erythema that lasted for up to 1 week.

“We suggest using microneedling plus 10% [trichloroacetic acid] as a cost-effective and efficient method for reducing infraorbital dark circles,” Dr. Farabi concluded.

The researchers reported having no financial disclosures.

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