Skin Care :: Wider Use of New Laser Skin Treatments

Research reported today shows a previously experimental procedure, which combines a topical medication with laser skin treatment, will enable dermatologic surgeons to successfully reverse damage caused by excessive sun exposure, heal acne and other skin conditions, and remove some malignant and pre-cancerous skin tumors.

The current issue of the medical journal Dermatologic Surgery reports the latest advance in photodynamic therapy is a procedure using a topical medication (5-aminolevulinic acid) applied before laser treatment is performed.

According to the study conducted by dermatologic surgeons Michael H. Gold, MD and Mitchel P. Goldman, MD, the weight of scientific evidence on the safety and efficacy of the procedure (known as full-face 5-aminolevulinic acid phototherapy) makes it more practical for regular clinical use for a variety of cosmetic and medical dermatologic conditions. The authors noted dermatologists for many years have hoped this new photodynamic therapy would move from the laboratory setting to routine clinical practice.

“The new phototherapy procedure is the hottest topic in the field because it greatly increases our options for treating a variety of cosmetic and medical skin conditions, including cancer,” said Goldman. “Its acceptance furthers the mission of dermatologic surgeons to stay on the forefront in developing new treatments that minimize adverse effects and maximize improvement for our patients.”

In a commentary published with the article, Anthony V. Benedetto, MD, wrote: “What an elegant way to eliminate photodamaged skin, rejuvenate the face, treat one?s precancers and cancers, all with a few easy treatments that do not hurt or cause scarring or any other significant sequelae [side effects].” Benedetto also said he believes it won?t be long before this treatment becomes standard therapy for adolescents and adults with acne.

For skin cancer, Drs. Gold and Goldman reported the new phototherapy treatment penetrates through skin tumors, including basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. For superficial carcinomas, the clearance rates reported are between 80 and 100 percent, while more advanced tumors cleared at rates between 10 percent and 80 percent.

In related research published in Dermatologic Surgery:

— Phototherapy with short-pulsed lasers are safe and effective for treating mild to moderate photodamage on the face and neck. Photodamage causes skin to wrinkle and become lax and overly pigmented. It is the cumulative result of excessive exposure to the sun?s ultraviolet rays. A 58 percent reduction in pigment irregularities and 54 percent improvement in skin texture were achieved with minimal side effects and a three-day healing period.

— High-pulsed photodynamic therapy is effective for reversing severely photoaged skin.

— Photodynamic therapy for treatment of photoaged hands yields mild to moderate improvement in their appearance.