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Lasers Surg Med. 2003;33(5):296-310.

A pilot study of ICG laser therapy of acne vulgaris: photodynamic and photothermolysis treatment.

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Saratov State University, Saratov, 410026, Russia.



The near-infrared (NIR) laser radiation due to its high penetration depth is widely used in phototherapy. In application to skin appendages, a high selectivity of laser treatment is needed to prevent light action on surrounding tissues. Indocyanine green (ICG) dye may provide a high selectivity of treatment due to effective ICG uploading by a target and its narrow band of considerable absorption just at the wavelength of the NIR diode laser. The goal of this study is to demonstrate the efficacy of the NIR diode laser phototherapy in combination with topical application of ICG suggested for soft and thermal treatment of acne vulgaris.


Twenty-two volunteers with facile or back-located acne were enrolled. Skin sites of subjects were stained by ICG and irradiated by NIR laser-diode light (803 or 809 nm). One mg/ml solution of ICG was applied for 5 or 15 minutes to the cleaned skin site. Untreated, only stained and only light irradiated skin areas served as controls. For soft acne treatment, the low-intensity (803 nm, 10-50 mW/cm(2), 5-10 minutes) or the medium-intensity (809 nm, 150-190 mW/cm(2), 15 minutes) protocols were used. The single and multiple (up to 8-9) treatments were provided. The individual acne lesions were photothermally treated at 18 W/cm(2) (803 nm, 0.5 seconds) without skin surface cooling or at 200 W/cm(2) (809 nm, 0.5 seconds) with cooling.


The observations during 1-2 months showed that soft acne treatment decreased the number of active elements, reduced erythema and inflammation, and considerably improved the skin state without any side effects. At high power densities (up to 200 W/cm(2)), ICG stained acne inflammatory elements were destroyed for light exposures of 0.5 seconds.


Based on the concept that hair follicle, especially sebaceous gland, can be intensively and selectively stained by ICG due to dye diffusion through pilosebaceous canal and its fast uptake by living microorganisms, by vital keratinocytes of epithelium of the canal and sebaceous duct, and by rapidly proliferating sebocytes, new technologies of soft and thermal acne lesions treatment that could be used in clinical treatment of acne were proposed.

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