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Dermatol Surg. 2005 Sep;31(9 Pt 2):1245-9; discussion 1249.

Short-term side effects of fractional photothermolysis.

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Laser and Skin Surgery Center of New York, NY 10016, USA.



To ascertain the immediate and short-term side effects of fractional photothermolysis for the treatment of a variety of skin disorders involving the face, neck, chest, and hands.


Physician-administered questionnaires were given during 60 follow-up visits for fractional photothermolysis treatment for a variety of facial skin disorders in patients with skin types ranging from I to IV. The questionnaire addressed 14 possible side effects, pain, and limitation of social activities. In addition, all patients were asked about any additional side effects not mentioned in the survey. An analysis of the data was performed once 60 surveys had been collected.


All patients (100%) undergoing fractional photothermolysis had transient post-treatment erythema. Other frequently reported post-treatment side effects were transient and included facial edema (82%), dry skin (86.6%), flaking (60%), a few (one to three) small, superficial scratches (46.6%), pruritus (37%), and bronzing (26.6%). Other more rarely reported effects included transient increased sensitivity (10%) and acneiform eruption (10%). Most patients reported that the pain level was easily tolerated, with an average pain score of 4.6 on a scale of 10. Most patients (72%) reported limiting social engagements for an average of 2 days after treatment. There were no long-lasting adverse events noted in our survey.


Fractional photothermolysis to treat dermatologic conditions on the face, neck, chest, and hands is a well-tolerated and safe procedure with several immediate, and slightly delayed, post-treatment side effects. In our experience, these side effects were transient and limited to erythema, edema, dry skin, flaking skin, superficial scratches, pruritus, increased sensitivity, and acneiform eruption. Importantly, we did not see the development of post-treatment scarring, herpetic activation, hypopigmentation, hyperpigmentation, persistent erythema, persistent edema, or infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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