Nonablative Laser Therapy Significantly Improves Acne Scars

Yael Waknine

November 15, 2004

Nov. 15, 2004 — Nonablative laser therapy appears to be safe and significantly improves mild to moderate facial scarring due to acne, with posttreatment continuation of dermal collagen remodeling, according to the results of a prospective study published in the November issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

"Recently, nonablative lasers, light sources, and radiofrequency waves have been used to selectively deliver thermal energy to the upper dermis, inducing a controlled wound healing response in the papillary and upper reticular dermis without epidermal damage," write Paul M. Friedman, MD, from DermSurgery Associates and the Department of Dermatology at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, and colleagues.

Although studies have confirmed the production and deposition of new collagen after laser therapy as well as the resulting qualitative improvements of facial rhytids and scars, the authors suggest that these effects have been difficult to quantify.

In the current study, the investigators used a three-dimensional optical profiling imaging system to assess skin topography of 13 facial sites in 11 patients with mild to moderate atrophic skin scarring. Each patient underwent five nonablative treatment sessions with the 1064-nm Q-switched Nd:YAG laser. Comparative images were taken one month after the third treatment session (therapy midpoint), and at one, three, and six months posttherapy.

Moderate improvements in roughness analysis (Ra) of 8.9% were observed at therapy midpoint, and significant improvement was observed as early as one month posttreatment (23.3%; P < .001) compared with baseline.

The greatest improvement in Ra occurred between the first and third months posttreatment ( P = .03), with a 31.6% change compared with baseline ( P < .01). Improvements appeared to reach a plateau by six months posttherapy, although the change from baseline remained significant (39.2%; P < .01).

Adverse events included mild to moderate transient erythema and pain, and mild pinpoint petechiae.

"[T]his study demonstrated that the 1064-nm Q-switched Nd:YAG laser provides a safe and effective noninvasive treatment for mild to moderate facial acne scarring," the authors point out. "The results are long lasting and continue well beyond the last treatment, indicating ongoing collagen remodeling after completion of the laser treatment sessions."

The authors report no pertinent financial conflicts of interest.

Arch Dermatol. 2004;140:1337-1341

Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

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