Long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser: does it give clinical benefit
on the treatment of resistant telangiectasia?
J.H. Lee,* S.Y. Na, M. Choi, H.S. Park, S. Cho
Department of Dermatology, Seoul National University Boramae Hospital, Seoul, Korea *Correspondence:J.H. Lee.E-mail:email@example.com
Background Long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser has been used in treating larger and deep-seated leg veins.
Objective This study investigated the effectiveness and safety of long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser to treat alae nasae and nasal tip telangiectasia.
Methods Twelve patients were evaluated in a prospective IRB approved study. They had a history of previous unsatisfactory treatments with pulsed dye laser and⁄or intense pulsed light for their telangiectases on alae nasae and tip (4–12 times, average 5.8 times). All patients underwent a single treatment session using long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser. Photographic images were taken. At 12-week follow-up, two independent physicians evaluated the percentage of vessels cleared, and patients were asked to rate their satisfaction with the procedure.
Results Five men and seven women were enrolled (aged 43 ± 5.8 years). Total clearance of vessels was 78.3%. The number of vessels in diameter of 0.1 mm was reduced by 61.1% and that of vessels in diameter of 0.2–0.3 mm decreased by 92.2% on the average at 12-week follow-up. Eleven of 12 patients were very satisfied with the clinical results. One patient rated as ‘satisfied’ due to hyperpigmentation after the treatment, which improved at 12-week follow-up.
Conclusion Long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser can be considered as another effective and safe treatment modality for stubborn telangeictasia even on face, if applied cautiously.
Received: 17 April 2011; Accepted: 30 August 2011 Conflict of interest
None declared. Funding source None.
Lasers emitting green and yellow range of light spectrum have been considered as a criterion standard in the treatment of various vas-cular disorders, taking advantage of high oxyhaemoglobin absorp-tion peaks at their wavelengths.1–3 However, these lasers can
penetrate skin only 1–2 mm deep and this property has been a major drawback for eliminating deeper vascular lesion effectively.4,5 Long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser has been proven effective mainly in the treatment of leg veins for its deeper penetration into skin (6–10 mm) and homogeneous heating of large vessel walls.6–8 Recently, several studies have paid their attention to the treatment of various vascular disorders other than leg vein using long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser such as portwine stain, haemangioma, angiokera-toma and venous lake, and they reported promising results.9–11
Facial telangiectasia is one of very annoying clinical manifesta-tions and sometimes frustrates many patients.1,8 It appears as small dilated vessels and these vessels are not located deep in the
dermis. Therefore, most of facial telangiectasia can be treated very successfully by conventional light-based therapies such as pulsed dye laser or intense pulsed light. However, telangiectasia on alae nasae and nasal tip might be a different issue.12
This study investigated clinical effectiveness and safety of long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser to treat telangiectasia on alae nasae and tip.
Materials and methods
Twelve patients (aged 43 ± 5.8 years, M⁄F = 5 : 7) with telangiec-tasia on alae nasae and tip were evaluated in a prospective IRB approved study. All patients had been treated with pulsed dye laser and⁄or intense pulsed light several times (4–12 times, 5.8 ± 1.2 times) for their telangiectasia on alae nasae and tip, with unsatis-factory results (Table 1). Patients with pregnancy or lactation, a history of deep vein thrombosis, connective tissue disease,
predisposition to hypertrophic scars and keloids, oral isotretinoin treatment in the previous 2 months or immunosuppression were excluded.
All patients underwent a single treatment session using long-pulsed Nd : YAG (MultiFlex, Ellipse A⁄S, Denmark). Surface cooling was supplied by a focused stream of cool air (SoftCool) to reduce pain during treatments and minimize the risk of possible epidermal damage. Before applying laser on the treatment site, dilated vessel diameters were measured with a transparent vein gauge provided with the laser machine. For vessel diameter of 0.1 mm, the treatment parameter was set as followed: 8.0 ms of pulse width and 199.6–216.7 J⁄cm2of fluence with 1.5 mm spot. The larger dilated vessels of 0.2–0.3 mm in diameter were treated with 12.0 ms pulse width and 237.1–261.4 J⁄cm2of fluence using 1.5 mm spot. Before laser irradiation, refrigerated optical coupling gel was applied evenly on the treated site. When the vessel was treated with the laser, the immediate vessel responses were meticu-lously tracked down. If the vessel immediately vanished, the next laser shot was applied at the point where the vanishing point stopped. If the vessel did not show any response at the first shot, the fluence was raised to the next level (10–20 J⁄cm2higher in
general) and the laser firing point was moved up by about 1–2 mm from the initial spot to avoid stacking laser pulses. Patients were examined at 1 and 12 weeks after the treatment.
Pain score was checked using visual analogue scale (VAS 0–10 – 0: no pain; 10: unbearable pain) right after the treatment. At 1 week follow-up, possible adverse responses were checked.
Photographic images were taken, and two independent physi-cians counted the vessels depending on vessel size at the initial visit and at 12-week follow-up. At 12-week follow-up, the patients were asked to rate their satisfaction with the results (1 = not satisfied, 2 = little satisfied, 3 = somewhat satisfied, 4 = satisfied, 5 = very satisfied).
All 12 patients completed this study. Pain score during the proce-dure was marked as 2–6 (data now shown). A total of treated vessels were 162, and overall, 78.3% clearance was observed at 12-week follow-up. Vessels in diameter of 0.1 mm counted 72 at the initial visit and they went down to 28 at 12-week follow-up (mean reduction 61.1%). The number of vessels in diameter of 0.2–0.3 mm was reduced from 90 to 7 (mean reduction 92.2%) (Table 2, Fig. 1).
Eleven patients did not report any discomfort and side effects at 1-week follow-up. One patient complained of vesicles 1 day after the treatment and she was treated with topical steroid (hydrocorti-sone 1% cream) for 1 week. At the final follow-up, postinflamma-tory hyperpigmentation on the site of previous vesicles was observed, although it faded a little bit (Fig. 2).
For patients’ satisfaction with the treatment, eleven patients rated ‘very satisfied’ and the box of ‘satisfied’ was checked by the patient who had experienced vesicles (Table 3).
Table 1 Summary of previous treatments which patients had received before the enrollment in this study. All patients had received several treatment sessions with pulsed dye laser (PDL) and⁄or intense pulsed light (IPL) for their telangiectasia
Patient no. Previous treatment
PDL IPL Total Tx no.
1 6 6 12 2 4 1 5 3 3 2 5 4 5 1 6 5 6 0 6 6 7 0 7 7 3 2 5 8 4 2 6 9 1 5 6 10 3 1 4 11 3 4 7 12 3 1 4 Average 3.9 2.0 5.8 SD 1.3 1.4 1.2
Table 2 Results at 12 weeks after laser treatment. Total % reduction of all treated vessels was 78.3%, which was much higher than other previous reports. The clearance of larger ves-sels in diameter of 0.2–0.3 mm was measured by more than 90%. Smaller vessels in diameter of 0.1 mm appeared less responsive than larger ones
Patient no. Before Tx 12 weeks after Tx
0.1 mm 0.2–0.3 mm 0.1 mm 0.2–0.3 mm 1 4 3 2 0 2 9 4 3 0 3 0 25 5 0 4 12 3 2 0 5 5 5 1 0 6 14 1 4 0 7 3 7 0 2 8 6 6 2 0 9 5 4 2 0 10 2 18 3 0 11 4 6 2 2 12 8 8 2 3 Average 6 7.5 2.3 0.6 SD 4.09 6.9 1.3 1.1 SUM 72 90 28 7 % Reduction 61.1% 92.2% Total % reduction 78.3%
This study showed excellent clinical outcomes after only one ses-sion of laser treatment on telangiectases on alae nasae and nasal tips. Especially, the patient (No. 10 in Table 1) had been treated at our own department for her facial telangiectasia before she was enrolled in this study. After three times of pulsed dye laser and one time of intense pulsed light treatment, her bothering telangiectasia on the cheeks and forehead were almost gone. However, telangiec-tasia on her alae nasae and tip was not treated satisfactorily enough. She was enrolled in this study, and long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser was applied on her obstinate telangiectasia. The result was outstanding, except unwanted vesicles on one site of alar bases. The rest of 11 patients enrolled in this study had been treated at other local clinic and visited our department for the resisting vessels on alae nasae and tip. They were all content with the treatment result.
Facial telangiectasia is usually treated at ease with the help of vascular lasers,4,13 but telangiectasia on alae nasae and nasal tip seemed different problems. McCoy14mentioned that telangiectasia
on the alae nasae and tip was less efficacious after his 5-year expe-riences of treatments in 570 patients with facial telangiectasia, which was the same finding as this study. The reason why these dilated vessels do not response well like others on the face may be speculated in their anatomical specificities. Dilated vessels of most
telangiectases are venules, which are easily collapsed.2,8Meanwhile, those on alae nasae and tip are mostly composed of arterioles directly branched from lateral nasal artery.15,16Arterioles are more resistant to be obliterated than venules by the same insult.15,17 Therefore, telangiectasia on alae nasae and tip appears to be less responsive, and tends to be recanalized within a couple of weeks after laser treatment. Long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser can heat up
Figure 1 Patient no. 8. A long arrow shows a pigmented nevus on cheek. Dilated vessels (small arrows) did not recur at 12-week follow-up after the treatment. The telangiectasia on alar base was not treated. (a) Before treatment and (b) 12 weeks after the laser treatment.
Figure 2 Patient no. 10. She had a very troublesome telangiec-tasia on her nasal alae. She was treated with long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser and she experienced vesicles on alar bases. She was instructed to put on topical steroid for 1 week and vesicles subsided. At 12-week follow-up, hyperpigmentation on the site of previous vesicles (small arrows) was observed. However, thick vessels on other site (long arrows) improved. (a) Before treat-ment and (b) 12 weeks after the laser treattreat-ment.
Table 3 Patient satisfaction with the laser treatment. Eleven of 12 enrolled patients rated as ‘very satisfied’
Satisfaction Patient (12 total)
Not satisfied 0
Little satisfied 0
Somewhat satisfied 0
entire vessel walls and coagulate them with high fluence unlike pulsed dye laser and intense pulsed light,17and this might lead satisfactory clearance of telangiectases in this study.
As the results demonstrated, the clearance of larger vessels was higher (more than 90%) than smaller ones (about 60%). This finding correlates with other reports regarding leg veins.5–7,9
Very high fluence of more than 150 J⁄cm2must be applied due to low absorption coefficient in blood at 1064 nm.6 Water is a competing chromophore of light at the wavelength of 1064 nm, although this wavelength is absorbed in oxyhaemoglobin, still about ten times higher than in water.8,12Therefore, higher risk of potential collateral damage around vessels (such as burns) and pain during the procedure should be kept in mind when using this laser for vessels. No unbearable pain was marked in this study, and all patients were well tolerated. Before and after each laser shot, we held a handpiece for several seconds, so that cold air stream fully cooled down the treated field and carefully checked the vessel response, like described above. This waiting-and-see technique might help lessen severe pain during the laser exposure and prevent unexpected epidermal damage as well.
One patient experienced postinflammatory hyperpigmentation on the site of vesicles and this epidermal damage may be related with the pulse stacking. As described in the ‘Materials and meth-ods’ section, if there is no response at the laser exposed site, the next laser shot should not be repeated at the same spot. During the procedure, unexpected pulse stacking happened in this patient. The sites on which the patient experienced vesicles were alar bases, and we did take the trouble when shooting the laser there. When using long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser, the pulse stacking might be extremely dangerous, because this laser is set at very high flu-ence.12
Recently, the laser machine emitting dual wavelength (595 and 1064 nm) was introduced. Pulsed dye laser works first on haemo-globin and it turned laser irradiated oxyhaemohaemo-globin into methe-moglobin, which absorbs following Nd : YAG laser much effectively. The sequential delivery of 595 and 1064 nm wavelength was expected to bring synergistic effects on vessel treatment, reducing the required fluence of following Nd : YAG laser.18,19 The split face study was conducted to compare the treatment effi-cacy of dual laser and pulsed dye laser or long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser alone on facial telangiectasia.18The diameter of targeted ves-sels was <0.6 mm, and the skin type of enrolled patients was I–III according to Fitzpatrick.18Pulse dye laser was irradiated first using
a fluence of 10 J⁄cm2, a pulse duration of 10 ms and a 7 mm spot
size handpiece and after 100 ms of delay, Nd : YAG laser was irra-diated at 70 J⁄cm2of fluence of 15 ms duration. Pulse dye laser or long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser alone was applied with the same parameter like above, and dual laser treatment yielded much better results.18 Combining pulsed dye and Nd : YAG laser was shown to treat leg veins well by other researchers too.19The idea of dual laser treatment is acceptable and agreeable. However, pulse dye laser with a fluence of 10 J⁄cm2, 10 ms pulse duration and a
7 mm spot can treat most of facial telangiectaisa effectively.12,14
The combination of long-pulsed Nd : YAG with lower fluence might give additional benefits on telangiectasia, but the optimal parameter of this new dual laser application on vascular lesion needs to be further evaluated.
This study has its limitation that it was not a randomized con-trolled study and we did not perform direct comparison between pulsed dye laser⁄intense pulsed light and long-pulsed Nd : YAG. However, all enrolled patients got through unsatisfactory results after prior several treatment sessions of pulsed dye laser and⁄or intense pulsed light, and long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser produced excellent results. From this point of view, it can be said that long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser provides encouraging results in unmanageable facial telangiectasia with minimal side effects, if applied cautiously.
This study has its own value over other previous re-ports8,9,12,20,21in that it was performed on the patients with telan-giectasia unresponsive to previous multiple treatments of pulsed dye laser and⁄or intense pulsed light. Long-pulsed Nd : YAG laser is not the first choice of treatment for facial telangiectasia. However, it can be considered as another treatment modality for stubborn telangeictasia even on face.
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