Lasers Shine New Light on Acne Therapy


What advantages do lasers or energy-based devices (EBDs) have over topical, oral, and other acne treatments? David J. Goldberg, MD, JD, director of Skin Laser and Surgery Specialists of New York and New Jersey; past director of Mohs and Laser Research at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, New York; adjunct professor of law at Fordham University School of Law in New York City; and a member of the Dermatology Times® editorial advisory board, tackled this question during his presentation at the 11th annual New Frontiers in Cosmetic Medicine and Medical Dermatology symposium.1

Like prescription medications, lasers and EBDs have proved effective in treating acne, Goldberg said. However, these options may better suit the challenges of certain cases or individual patient preferences. An important factor for some patients and physicians, he noted, is that this technology reduces some problems with adherence—patients do not have to self-manage treatment on a daily or twice-daily basis. Because the physician performs the procedure, it is easier to track adherence and ensure optimal, standardized treatment delivery, he added.

Lasers and EBDs also provide alternatives for patients who may be concerned about adverse reactions related to systemic medications. The devices expand the menu of nonsystemic treatments for patients with acne who do not want to ingest oral medications or apply topical treatments, even those with lower absorption rates. 

With lasers and EBDs, as with prescription medications, no individual tool meets every patient’s needs. The most common types of lasers available are:

  • intense pulsed light, 
  • infrared, 
  • pulsed dye, 
  • potassium titanyl phosphate, and 
  • radiofrequency.

The most used laser now, according to Goldberg, is the 1064-nm infrared laser. This device emits beams that are absorbed by the water in the sebaceous gland, which heats up, reducing sebum output. These lasers are used for hair removal in the millisecond domain, he…



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