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J Invest Dermatol. 2015 Jul;135(7):1727-1734. doi: 10.1038/jid.2015.89. Epub 2015 Mar 6.

Acne Treatment Based on Selective Photothermolysis of Sebaceous Follicles with Topically Delivered Light-Absorbing Gold Microparticles.

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Sebacia, Duluth, Georgia USA. Electronic address:
Department of Dermatology, Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital; Harvard Medical School, Boston Massachusetts, USA.
Sebacia, Duluth, Georgia USA.
New York Laser & Skin Care, New York, USA.
Lloyd Dermatology & Laser Center, Youngstown, Ohio, USA.
Department of Pathology, University of Arkansas, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA.
Department of Dermatology, Military Institute of Medicine, Warsaw, Poland.
Department of Dermatology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland.


The pathophysiology of acne vulgaris depends on active sebaceous glands, implying that selective destruction of sebaceous glands could be an effective treatment. We hypothesized that light-absorbing microparticles could be delivered into sebaceous glands, enabling local injury by optical pulses. A suspension of topically applied gold-coated silica microparticles exhibiting plasmon resonance with strong absorption at 800 nm was delivered into human pre-auricular and swine sebaceous glands in vivo, using mechanical vibration. After exposure to 10-50 J cm(-2), 30 milliseconds, 800 nm diode laser pulses, microscopy revealed preferential thermal injury to sebaceous follicles and glands, consistent with predictions from a computational model. Inflammation was mild; gold particles were not retained in swine skin 1 month after treatment, and uptake in other organs was negligible. Two independent prospective randomized controlled clinical trials were performed for treatment of moderate-to-severe facial acne, using unblinded and blinded assessments of disease severity. Each trial showed clinically and statistically significant improvement of inflammatory acne following three treatments given 1-2 weeks apart. In Trial 2, inflammatory lesions were significantly reduced at 12 weeks (P=0.015) and 16 weeks (P=0.04) compared with sham treatments. Optical microparticles enable selective photothermolysis of sebaceous glands. This appears to be a well-tolerated, effective treatment for acne vulgaris.

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