Latest News

‘Old school’ laser resurfacing remains an effective option for rejuvenation


AT MOAS 2023

Despite the popularity of fractional lasers cleared for skin rejuvenation in the past decade, fully ablative laser resurfacing is still preferred by some patients because it usually requires only one treatment for reproducible results, according to Arisa E. Ortiz, MD.

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

Dr. Arisa E. Ortiz

“Fractional resurfacing is great because there is less downtime, but the results are not as dramatic as with fully ablative resurfacing,” Dr. Ortiz, director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at the University of California, San Diego, said at the annual Masters of Aesthetics Symposium. In her practice, she said, “we do a combination,” which can include “fully ablative around the mouth and eyes and fractional everywhere else.”

Key drawbacks to fully ablative laser resurfacing include significant downtime and extensive wound care, “so it’s not for everybody,” she said. Prolonged erythema following treatment is expected, “so patients need to plan for this. It can last 3-4 months, and it will continue to fade and can be covered up with makeup, but it does last a while,” she noted. “One of the things that made ablative resurfacing fall out of favor was the delayed and permanent hypopigmentation where there’s a stark line of demarcation because you can’t treat the neck [with this modality], so patients have this pearly white looking face that appears 6 months after the treatment,” she added.

Preoperatively, Dr. Ortiz asks patients what other cosmetic procedures they have had in the past. For example, if they have had a facelift, they might have neck skin on their jawline, which will react differently to fully ablative resurfacing than facial skin. “I don’t perform fully ablative resurfacing on the neck or body, or in patients with darker skin types,” she said.

To optimize results, she recommends pretreatment of the area with a neuromodulator a week or 2 before the procedure, “so that they’re not actively contracting and recreating creases,” she said. Studies, she noted, have shown that this approach results in better outcomes. She also asks patients to apply a tripeptide serum daily a week or 2 prior to their procedure to stimulate wound healing and collagen remodeling.

For antibiotic and antiviral prophylaxis, Dr. Ortiz typically prescribes doxycycline 100 mg b.i.d. for 7 days and valacyclovir 500 mg b.i.d. for 7 days and asks patients to start the course the night before the procedure. “If they break through the antiviral, I increase to zoster dosing,” she said. “I make sure they have my cell phone number and call me right away if that happens. I don’t routinely prescribe an antifungal, but you can if you want to.”

For anesthesia, Dr. Ortiz applies lidocaine 23%/tetracaine 7% an hour before the procedure and performs nerve blocks at the mentalis, infraorbital, supraorbital, and nasalis muscles. “I also do local infiltration with a three-pronged Mesoram adapter,” she said. “That has changed the comfort level for these patients. I don’t offer any sedation in my practice but that is an option if you have it available. If you’re going to be resurfacing within the orbital rim you need to know how to place corneal shields. Only use injectable lidocaine in this area because if topical lidocaine gets into the eye, it can cause a chemical corneal abrasion. Nothing happens to their vision permanently, but it’s extremely painful for 24-48 hours.”

Dr. Ortiz described postoperative wound care as “the hardest part” of fully ablative laser resurfacing treatments. The treated area will look “bloody and crusty” for 1-2 weeks. She instructs patients to do vinegar soaks four times per day for 2-3 weeks, “depending on how quickly they heal,” she said. She also counsels patients to apply petrolatum ointment to the area and provides them with a bottle of hypochlorous acid spray, an antiseptic – which also helps with the itching they may experience. “They need to avoid the sun, so I recommend full face visors,” she added.

In her clinical experience, postoperative pain medications are not required. “If the patient calls you on day 3 with increased pain, that’s usually a sign of infection; don’t ignore that,” said Dr. Ortiz, who is also president-elect of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. In a case of suspected infection, she asks the patient to come in right away, and obtains a bacterial culture. “If they break through the doxycycline, it’s usually a gram-negative infection, so I’ll treat them prophylactically for that,” she said.

“Significant itching may be a sign of Candida infection,” she noted. “Because the epidermis has been disrupted, if they have systemic symptoms then you want to consider IV antibiotics because the infection can spread rapidly.”

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

Recommended Reading

FDA to step up oversight of cosmetics, assess ‘forever chemicals’
MDedge Dermatology
Going into solo practice? An expert shares tips
MDedge Dermatology
CoolSculpting remains most popular procedure for noninvasive fat removal, expert says
MDedge Dermatology
Skin has different daytime and nighttime needs, emerging circadian research suggests
MDedge Dermatology
Almonds and almond oil
MDedge Dermatology
Can skin bleaching lead to cancer?
MDedge Dermatology
The role of social media in aesthetic trends
MDedge Dermatology
When treating scars, ‘rehabilitation’ is the goal, not perfection
MDedge Dermatology
Combining lasers: A recipe for maximizing results and patient satisfaction
MDedge Dermatology
Thread lifts an option for noninvasive facial tightening
MDedge Dermatology