Laser devices being used for more medical, cosmetic treatments

Lasers have become some of the most useful tools in dermatology. Laser-assisted drug delivery, body contouring, fractional resurfacing, scar therapy, and treatment of vascular lesions are only a few of the growing number of uses for both traditional laser instruments and more novel approaches.

“Over the years, lasers have grown to address an increasing number of medical and cosmetic issues,” said Arisa Ortiz, MD, director of laser and cosmetic dermatology and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Diego. “We are not only building on new indications with previously existing technologies, but also expanding the scope of our field with new devices. Patients are more interested in noninvasive procedures these days. They are less interested in surgical procedures like neck lifts and other invasive procedures with increased risk of complications. They also want less downtime and a more natural look.”

Dr. Ortiz will explore new options in body contouring during “What’s New and What’s True in Lasers” (S041) from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday in Ballroom B. Look for new platforms as well as new areas of interest.

One of the newest devices for body contouring is the SculpSure, made by Cynosure, a hyperthermic laser cleared by the FDA for noninvasive lipolysis. According to the manufacturer, the 1,060 nm wavelength is preferentially absorbed by adipose tissue and has minimal absorption in the dermis. Disrupted adipose cells are eliminated by the body. Initial results usually can be seen in four to six weeks, with optimal results after about 12 weeks.

The device is configured with up to four applicators to allow treatment of multiple areas in a single 25-minute session. Previous devices could take up to 60 minutes per session and allow treatment of just a single area at one time.

“As with all new technologies, skepticism should be high. Time will tell whether this product is effective,” she said of the SculpSure.

Another new device is the first hybrid nonablative plus ablative laser, the Halo, manufactured by Sciton. According to the manufacturer, this laser delivers 2,940 nm Er:YAG of ablative energy 100 microns into the epidermis and 1,470 nm diode to deliver coagulation from 100 to 700 microns in the epidermis and dermis at the same time. When fewer than 100 micros of ablation are used, the epidermis regenerates within 24 hours. The coagulated dermis regenerates over about seven days.

“You might think the combination of two wavelengths would lead to more downtime,” Dr. Ortiz said, “but the ablative wavelength creates tiny holes in the skin that allow the debris to extrude faster.”

One of the newest target areas in body contouring is submental fat. Deoxycholic acid injections were the first tool approved by the FDA to deal effectively with double chins, she said. Even as deoxycholic acid is being expanded to off-label uses in areas such as axillary fat, existing devices are being adjusted to target the submental region. CoolScuplting has a new applicator, the CoolMini, to manage submental tissue.

“Double chins haven’t really been addressed in the past except through neck lifts or liposuction,” Dr. Ortiz said. “Now there are multiple non-invasive options available to expand our armamentarium.” 

Dr. Ortiz is a speaker for and serves on the advisory board of Sciton.

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