Tattoo-Removal Laser May Fight Acne Scars

Picosecond laser treatment may reduce acne scarring and improve skin appearance and texture

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) A laser used for tattoo removal may be able to remove more than just tattoos.

A new study looked at the effects of the picosecond pulse duration laser on facial acne scarring. These lasers are commonly used to remove unwanted tattoos from the skin.

The study authors found that the laser improved the appearance and texture of the study participants' skin within three months of the final laser treatment.

"As more patients receive this treatment, we will have a better sense as to whether this laser will become the gold standard for acne scarring," said Coyle S. Connolly, DO, dermatologist and president of Connolly Dermatology in New Jersey, in an interview with dailyRx News. "Clinically, dermatologists often combine different treatment modalities (laser, chemical peels, injectable fillers or surgery, etc.) to improve acne scars. It is encouraging to see a new, non painful, laser therapy such as this available for such a historically difficult skin condition."

Jeremy A. Brauer, MD, of the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York in New York City, and colleagues recruited 15 women and five men with facial acne scarring for the study.

Each patient received a total of six laser treatments — once every four to eight weeks. The patients ranged between 27 and 61 years old.

Scarring from skin acne can cause distressing effects for patients, such as lowered self-esteem, the study authors noted.

Other types of lasers are sometimes used to treat acne scarring, but they might have some negative effects for patients. For instance, nanosecond lasers used for acne scarring often require anesthesia (medicine to reduce pain before a procedure) and can have long healing times for patients. However, the picosecond laser delivers smaller doses of energy to the skin than the nanosecond laser and may cause fewer harmful effects, Dr. Brauer and team noted.

Patient reactions to the treatment ranged from satisfied to extremely satisfied with the level of improvement in both the appearance and texture of their skin. The patients were surveyed at the final treatment and at follow-up visits one and three months later.

To determine whether the laser treatments decreased patients' acne scarring, dermatologists reviewed the patients' before and after photographs. They noted a 24 percent improvement in the amount of skin scarring at one month after the treatment and a 27.2 percent improvement in skin scarring at three months.

Dr. Brauer and team also noted that one female patient who had requested full facial treatment for her acne scarring indicated an overall improvement of her skin’s appearance and texture — not just in the areas of acne scarring.

These researchers noted the need for more research on the topic to further study the picosecond laser's effects on acne scarring.

This study was published Nov. 19 in JAMA Dermatology.

Cynosure funded the current study. Cynosure is a manufacturer of a large array of light-based treatment systems, including the PicoSure laser — a US Food and Drug Administration-approved picosecond laser. Dr. Brauer received funds for serving as a consultant for Cynosure. Study author Roy G. Geronemus was a member of the Cynosure advisory board.

Review Date: 
November 19, 2014
Last Updated:
November 24, 2014