The significance of orbital anatomy and periocular wrinkling when performing laser skin resurfacing

Dermatol Surg. 2000 Mar;26(3):279-86. doi: 10.1046/j.1524-4725.2000.09313.x.


Knowledge of orbital anatomy and the interaction of muscle contractions, gravitational forces and photoagingis fundamental in understanding the limitations of carbon dioxide (CO2) laser skin resurfacing when rejuvenating the skin of the periocular area. Laser resurfacing does not change the mimetic behavior of the facial muscles nor does it influence gravitational forces. When resurfacing periocular tissue, the creation of scleral show and ectropion are a potential consequence when there is an over zealous attempt at improving the sagging malar fat pad and eyelid laxity by performing an excess amount of laser passes at the lateral portion of the lower eyelid. This results in an inadvertent widening of the palpebral fissure due to the lateral pull of the Orbicularis oculi. Retrospectively, 85 patients were studied, who had undergone periorbital resurfacing with a CO2 laser using anew treatment approach. The Sharplan 40C CO2 Feather Touchlaser was programmed with a circular scanning pattern and used just for the shoulders of the wrinkles. A final laser pass was performed with the same program over the entire lower eyelid skin surface, excluding the outer lateral portion (e.g. a truncated triangle-like area),corresponding to the lateral canthus. Only a single laser pass was delivered to the lateral canthal triangle to avoid widening the lateral opening of the eyelid, which might lead to the potential complications of scleral show and ectropion. When the area of the crows' feet is to be treated, three passes on the skin of this entire lateral orbital surface are completed by moving laterally and upward toward the hairline. Patients examined on days 1, 7, 15, 30, 60, and one year after laser resurfacing showed good results. At two months after treatment, the clinical improvement was rated by the patient and physician as being "very good" in 81 of the 85 patients reviewed. These patients underwent laser resurfacing without complications. The proposed technique of periocular resurfacing prevents complications of scleral show and laxity in the lateral eyelid opening and even ectropion, because treatment conforms to the osseo-muscular anatomical relationship of eyelid structures.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / pathology
  • Blepharoplasty*
  • Facial Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy*
  • Orbit / anatomy & histology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Aging*