Combining Lasers with Toxins and Fillers

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Suzanne Kilmer, MD

In this presentation, Dr Kilmer reviewed the techniques for combining the various technologies that are currently available for facial rejuvenation in order to obtain optimal cosmetic improvement for patients.

Dr Kilmer stresses the importance of remembering the 5 Rs:

  • Relax
  • Refill
  • Rejuvenate
  • Resurface
  • Reassess
Relax

It is important to relax the skin with a botulinum toxin to keep both the muscles and the skin from moving as much as it otherwise would. If she is going to laser the skin, the results are improved when the skin/muscles are not moving. Dr Kilmer also uses fillers, in conjunction with the toxins and lasers to fill in lines, tighten up the skin and remove brown/red spots.

Clinical Pearl: Never use toxins, lasers, or any other device that can cause significant swelling on the same day. This can result in the toxin migrating to other places where you do not want it.

Refill-Restore Volume Loss

When using dermal fillers, the objective is to restore volume based on a patient’s specific needs. Fillers can be placed in various areas locally such as the nasolabial folds, marionette lines, deep glabellar rhytids, tear troughs, scars, and the nasal bridge. Fillers can also be used globally in the cheeks and temples.  It is important to remember that there may be a lag time resulting in delayed gratification. It is very important to keep in mind that one can’t massage post poly-L-lactic acid (Sculptra) in areas where Botulinum toxin was placed.

Rejuvenation

There are various approaches to rejuvenation. These include:

  • Vascular approach (more specific?)
    • Stimulated by injury to microvasculature, which initiates cascade of events.
  • Pigment approach
    • Targeting melanin can remove pigmented lesions and may also improve textural changes.
  • Thermal approach
    • Non specific heating leads to injury response/wound healing and possible collagen tightening.
  • Fractional approach
    • Nonablative and ablative
Resurface

Dermatologists can resurface the skin with the chemical or mechanical removal of the epidermis. Devices that be used for resurfacing can be both selective and nonselective.

Combination Treatment

Best order

  • Start with toxins to stop movement and relax muscles.
    • Relax frown, smile and lip lines when doing facial rejuvenation
    • Relax DAOs and neck bands when doing fillers, tightening or resurfacing
      • May need less filler and patients are happy sooner with tightening devices
  • Then filler or laser depending on a patient’s specific needs (and ability for downtime)
    • Never do toxins and lasers that cause swelling at the same time because toxins can migrate.
  • Typically end with filler if still needed after toxins and laser
    • Sometimes the combination will diminish the need for filler
    • If able to tell that will need volume, can do before or at same time as laser

Caveats of Combining Treatments

  • Toxin with Filler
    • Can’t massage post poly-L-lactic acid (Sculptra) in areas where Botulinum toxin was placed
  • Toxin with Laser
    • Can’t do toxin same day as Fractional lasers – swelling can lead to migration
    • Can do botulinum toxin with PDL, IPL, CoolTouch, SmoothBeam, Thermage, Titan
  • Filler with Laser
    • Can do filler same day but do first if doing fractional as swelling can mask need for filler.
  • Fractional with RF tightening
    • Same day – do Thermage 1st because need intact skin but when you do the fractional laser the skin may still be sensitive

Combining Fractional with other Devices

  • Fractional laser with other lasers/txs
    • Lentigines – pre-tx QS lasers, KTPs, etc
    • AKs – LN2
    • Sebaceous hyperplasia, nevi – 1450 nm
    • Vascular lesions – PDL, KTP, Alex
    • Downtime from other treatment is simultaneous and shortened
  • Fractional resurfacing with ablative resurfacing
    • Almost always do fully ablative to upper eyelids
      • More tightening/more predictable – do inner canthi
    • Can ablate/sculpt edges of scars, upper lip lines and elevated lesions
  • Ablative fractional and nonablative fractional resurfacing
    • Nonablative fractional to face, ablative to neck for more tightening /crepiness – useful for those with hx ablative resurfacing/chemical peels/dermabrasion

Other combination treatment includes fat loss and tightening, fractionated RF + QS/KTP/PDL and, fractionated US + QS/KTP/PDL.

Reassess

Remember that combination treatment may minimize the need for other treatments and may increase the interval for maintenance. It is extremely important to assess whether or not the patient’s needs have been met. Ask yourself and the patient if new things have become noticeable now that the initial needs have been met? And remember, with time, additional needs may become apparent.

Summary

  • Botox, fillers and lasers can all be used synergistically to minimize the signs of sun damage and aging.
  • Expertise in technique, use of the best possible modalities, and watching for and treating any possible complications will produce the best results.
  • Combining these modalities may obviate the need for more invasive procedures, such as facelift