Conference Coverage

Expert offers tips for combining lasers and injectables on the same day



While dermatologists can often use lasers and injectables in one treatment session to address facial volume, wrinkles, skin texture, tone, laxity and submental fullness, they should avoid using a neuromodulator with a laser on the same day if it involves the same area.

Dr. Arisa E. Ortiz director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at the University of California, San Diego.


“Swelling from the laser can potentially make the toxin migrate and cause ptosis,” Arisa E. Ortiz, MD, said at the virtual annual Masters of Aesthetics Symposium. “Even though this is temporary, your patient’s not going to be very happy with you. I would separate these at least 1 day apart, and then you should be OK.”

When using a filler on the same day as a laser treatment, Dr. Ortiz, who is director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at the University of California, San Diego, performs the laser procedure after injecting the filler, “because you may get some swelling, which can distort your need for filler,” she said. “I like to do the filler first to make sure I can assess how much volume loss they have. Then I’ll do the laser procedure right after.”

Another general rule of thumb is that, when combining lasers on the same day, consider lowering the device settings, “because it’s going to be a more aggressive treatment when you’re combining various laser procedures,” she said. “Treat vascular lesions first to not exacerbate nonspecific erythema. Then treat pigment, then resurfacing, followed by liquid nitrogen if needed to treat seborrheic keratoses.”

For periorbital rejuvenation, Dr. Ortiz likes to use a neurotoxin 1 week before performing the laser-resurfacing or skin-tightening procedure, followed by injection of a filler. “This augments your results,” she said. “Studies have shown that, if you start with a neuromodulator, you can get more improvement with your resurfacing procedure,” she said. “That makes sense, because you’re not contracting the muscle while you’re healing from the laser, so you get more effective collagen remodeling.”

When using a neuromodulator for dynamic periorbital rhytides, place it superficially to avoid bruising and stay superior to the maxillary prominence to avoid the zygomaticus major “so you don’t get a droopy smile,” she said. “The approved dosing is 24 units, 12 on each side. Less may be required for younger patients and more for more severe rhytides.”

For static rhytides, fractional resurfacing procedures will provide a more modest result with less downtime, while fully ablative laser resurfacing procedures will provide more dramatic improvement with more downtime. “You’re really going to tailor your treatment to what the patient is looking for,” Dr. Ortiz said. “If you use a fractional device you may need multiple treatments. Using a corneal shield when you’re resurfacing within the periorbital rim is a must, so you need to know how to place these if you’re going to be resurfacing in that area.”

For anesthesia, Dr. Ortiz likes to use injectable lidocaine, “because if you use a topical it can creep into the eye, and then you get a chemical corneal abrasion. This resolves after a few days but it’s really painful and your patient won’t be very happy.”

For tear troughs, use a hyaluronic acid filler with a low G prime. “If you use a thicker filler it can look lumpy or too full,” she said. While some clinicians use a needle to administer the filler, Dr. Ortiz prefers to use a blunt-tipped cannula. “It’s less painful and there’s less risk of bruising or swelling,” she said. “There’s also less risk of cannulizing a vessel. This is not zero risk. It’s been shown that the 27-gauge can actually cannulize the vessel, so it shouldn’t give you a false sense of security, but there is less risk, compared with using a needle. You can use the cannula to thread. If you’re using a needle you can inject a bolus and then massage it in, or you can use the microdroplet technique.”

With the cannula technique, bruising or swelling can occur even in the most experienced hands, “so make sure your patients don’t have an important event coming up,” Dr. Ortiz said. “With filler, not only do you improve the volume loss, but sometimes you improve the dark circles. I tend to see this more in lighter-skinned patients. In darker-skinned patients, the dark circles can be caused by racial pigmentation. That’s hard to fix, so I never promise that we can improve dark circles, but sometimes it does improve.”

For dynamic perioral rhytides, Dr. Ortiz generally treats with a neuromodulator 1 week in advance of laser resurfacing, followed by a filler for any etched-in lines. Use of a neuromodulator in the perioral region of musicians or singers is contraindicated “because it can affect their phonation,” she said. “Also, older patients might complain that it’s difficult for them to pucker their lips when they’re putting on a lip liner or lipstick. There are four injection sites on the upper lip and two on the lower lip. I do 1 unit at each injection site, with a max of 6-8 units. Any more than that and they’ll have difficulty puckering.”

Two main options for treating submental fullness include cryolipolysis or deoxycholic acid. “If you have a lot of volume, you want to use cryolipolysis,” Dr. Ortiz said. “The general rule is, if it fits in the cup [of the applicator], hook them up.” Use deoxycholic acid for areas of smaller volume, or to fine-tune, she added.

For platysmal bands, Dr. Ortiz favors injecting 2 units of botulinum toxin at three to four sites along the band. She pulls away and injects superficially and limits the treatment dose to 40 units in one session “because excessive doses can cause dysphagia,” she said. “If they need additional units, I’ll have them come back in 2 weeks.”

The Nefertiti lift combines the treatment of the platysma with the insertion point of the platysma along the jawline. Treatment of the patient along the lateral jawline with 2 units of botulinum toxin every centimeter or so can actually improve the definition of the jawline, “because your platysma is pulling down on your lower face,” Dr. Ortiz explained. “So, if you relax that, it can help to define the jawline. By treating the platysma, you can also prevent or soften the horizontal bands that occur across the neck.”

For necklace creases, she likes to inject 1-2 units of a low-HA filler along the crease – evenly spaced all along. “I’ll dilute it even further with 0.5 cc of lidocaine with epinephrine,” she said. “Then you can do serial punctures or you can thread along that line.”

For treating static rhytides on the neck, laser-resurfacing procedures work best, but at low settings. “Because there are fewer adnexal structures, the neck is at increased risk for scarring,” Dr. Ortiz said. “You want to use a lower fluence because your neck skin is thin. Your fluence determines your depth with resurfacing. Most importantly, use a lower density for a more conservative setting”

Options for treating poikiloderma of Civatte include the vascular laser, an IPL [intense pulsed light device], or a 1927-nm thulium laser. To avoid footprinting, or a “chicken wire” appearance to the treated area, Dr. Ortiz recommends using a large spot size with the pulsed dye laser or the IPL.

She concluded her presentation by underscoring the importance of communicating realistic expectations with patients. “There is some delayed gratification here,” she said. “For procedures that take time to see results, consider adding another procedure that will give them immediate results.”

Dr. Ortiz disclosed having financial relationships with numerous pharmaceutical and device companies. She is also cochair of the MOA.

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