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Arch Dermatol. 1999 Apr;135(4):391-7.

Comparison of erbium:YAG and carbon dioxide lasers in resurfacing of facial rhytides.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston 02114, USA.



To compare the efficacy, adverse effects, and histological findings of erbium:YAG (Er:YAG) and carbon dioxide (CO2) laser treatment in removing facial rhytides.


An intervention study of 21 subjects with facial rhytides. All participants were followed up for 6 months. The end points of the study were wrinkle improvement and duration of adverse effects.


Academic referral center.


Nineteen female and 2 male volunteers with skin type I to III and wrinkle class I to III participated in the study.


In all subjects, 1 side of the face was treated with a CO2 laser and other side with an Er:YAG laser. Skin biopsies were performed in 6 subjects before treatment and immediately, 1 day, 2 days, and 6 months after treatment. Observations were recorded by subjects, investigators, and a blinded panel of experts.


Improvement in wrinkles and severity and duration of adverse effects.


The CO2 laser-treated side had relatively better wrinkle improvement when evaluating all subjects (P<.03). However, in subjects receiving more than 5 passes of Er:YAG laser, improvement scores were not significantly different from those for 2 to 3 passes of CO2 laser treatment. Posttreatment erythema was noted at 2 weeks in 14 subjects (67%) on the Er:YAG laser-treated side and 20 subjects (95%) on the CO2 laser-treated side. The frequency of erythema was significantly less after Er:YAG laser treatment at 2 (P=.001) and 8 (P=.03) weeks. Hypopigmentation was seen in 1 Er:YAG-treated (5%) and 9 CO2-treated (43%) sides (chi2, P<.05). Histological evaluation showed residual thermal damage of up to 50 microm on the Er:YAG-treated side and up to 200 microm on the CO2-treated side.


Erbium:YAG laser is safe and effective in removing facial rhytides. Subjects treated with Er:YAG laser recover more quickly from the procedure than those receiving CO2 laser treatment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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