Combination ALA-PDT and ablative fractional Er:YAG laser (2,940 nm) on the treatment of severe acne

Rui Yin, Lin Lin, Yan Xiao, Fei Hao, Michael R. Hamblin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Background Scarring is a very common complication of severe acne and is difficult to treat by conventional methods. 5-Aminolevulinic acid (ALA) photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a novel treatment for improving acne lesions. Fractional laser resurfacing is a promising treatment for scar treatment because of its unique ability to stimulate the wound healing response and its depth of penetration. Objective To evaluate the efficacy of combination therapies of ALA-PDT and ablative fractional Er:YAG laser (2,940 nm) for scarring lesions in severe acne patients. Methods A prospective, single-arm, pilot study. Forty subjects with severe acne were treated with 15% ALA-PDT for four times at 10-day intervals. They then received ablative fractional Er:YAG laser treatment five times at 4-week intervals. Three independent investigators evaluated subject outcomes at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months post-treatment (primary outcome); patients also provided self-assessments of improvement (secondary outcome). Results Significant reductions in acne score (P < 0.01) were obtained at follow-up visits after 1, 3, 6, and 12 months. After 6 month, the lesions showed overall improvement in all of subjects (good to excellent in acne inflammatory lesions), 80% overall improvement in acne scars. After 12 months, most of subjects had improved hypertrophic/atrophic scars (good to excellent in 85%) and no one had recurrent acne inflammatory lesions. Patient self-evaluation also revealed good to excellent improvements (on average) in acne lesions and scarring, with significant improvements in self-esteem after 6 months post-treatment. Conclusions PDT can control the inflammation and improve the severity of acne lesions. Fractional resurfacing is a promising new treatment modality for scars by stimulating wound healing and remodeling. The combination therapy is a promising option for severe acne to prevent and improve car formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-172
Number of pages8
JournalLasers in Surgery and Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • 5-aminolevulinic acid
  • ablative fractional laser
  • acne vulgaris
  • atrophic scars
  • erbium: yttrium-aluminum-garnet laser
  • photodynamic therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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