Treatment of atrophic acne scarring with fractional micro-plasma radio-frequency in Chinese patients: A prospective study

Ting Lan, Yan Xiao, Li Tang, Michael R. Hamblin, Rui Yin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Acne scarring is a common disfiguring sequela of acne vulgaris which can lead to serious psychosocial problems and have a negative effect on patients’ quality of life. Although a variety of approaches can be used to treat atrophic acne scars, disadvantages such as long-healing time, dyspigmentation, infections, and prolonged erythema make these treatments unsatisfactory especially for Asians. Fractional micro-plasma radio-frequency is a novel technology that produces minor ablation to the epidermis to promote rapid re-epithelialization, while the radio-frequency evoked thermal effect can stimulate regeneration and remodeling of dermal fibroblasts. Objective: To evaluate the clinical effectiveness and safety of micro-plasma radio-frequency for the treatment of facial acne scars in Chinese patients. Materials and Methods: A total of 95 patients with facial atrophic acne scars were treated by micro-plasma radio-frequency using three sessions at 2-month intervals. Patients were seen 1 week after each treatment and 1, 3, 6 months after the final treatment. Improvement was assessed by three independent dermatologists who compared photographs taken before the first treatment and 6 months after the last treatment. Adverse effects were evaluated by a dermatologist who did not participated in the study. Patients also provided self-evaluation of satisfaction levels at the last follow-up visit. Results: A total of 86 patients with atrophic acne scars completed the entire study. There was a significant improvement in acne scars after three treatments. The mean score of ECCA grading scale (Echelle d'Evaluation Clinique des Cicatrices d'Acné) was reduced from 107.21 to 42.27 (P < 0.05). A total of 15 of 86 patients showed more than 75% improvement, 57 patients showed 50–75% improvement, and 14 patients showed 25–50%. After three treatments, all subjects showed improvements in spots, large pores, texture, UV damage, red areas, and porphyrin fluorescence. Pain, erythema, edema, effusion, and scab formation were observed in all patients. The average pain score on a visual analog scale was 6.14 ± 1.12 and all patients tolerated the treatments. The average duration of erythema was 6.26 ± 0.92 days. Hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, infections, and worsening of scarring were not seen. All patients were either “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the treatment outcomes. Conclusions: Fractional micro-plasma radio-frequency is an effective and safe treatment for acne scars, and might be a good choice for patients with darker skin. Lasers Surg. Med. 50:844–850, 2018.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)844-850
Number of pages7
JournalLasers in Surgery and Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • acne scar
  • micro-plasma
  • radio-frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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