Combinations of Energy-based Devices plus isotretinoin for management of acne and acne scars: A systematic review

Yidan Xu, Hao Wang, Linghong Guo, Michael R. Hamblin, Xiang Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background and Objective: A 6-month interval between systemic isotretinoin (ISO) and the initiation of energy-based interventions has been recommended, due to concerns about keloid formation and delayed wound healing. While this postponement goes against the current trend of early intervention for acne scarring. This systematic review evaluates the efficacy, safety, and patient satisfaction of combinations of ISO with energy-based devices (EBD). Study Design/Methods and Materials: PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were comprehensively searched up to April 2023 according to PRISMA guidelines. Two independent reviewers screened the titles and abstracts to select articles. The quality of the literature was assessed for each study design. Results: A total of 16 studies addressing the efficacy and safety of energy-based modalities combined with ISO were identified, including six randomized controlled trials (RCTs), two case series, seven cohort studies, and one case report. ISO combinations with intense pulsed light (IPL), fractional ablative CO2 laser, pulsed dye laser (PDL), non-ablative fractional laser (NAFL) and fractional microneedle radiofrequency (FMRF) have been tested for improving acne severity, acne scarring and erythema. Conclusion: The current evidence does not justify delaying the use of EBDs for patients who have recently undergone or are currently receiving ISO treatment. Evidence-based treatments such as PDL, NAFL, and FMRF etc. are suggested relatively safe and effective in treating acne and acne scarring.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cosmetic Dermatology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • acne vulgaris
  • isotretinoin
  • laser treatment
  • phototherapy
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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