Fractional photothermolysis: a new concept for cutaneous remodeling using microscopic patterns of thermal injury

Lasers Surg Med. 2004;34(5):426-38. doi: 10.1002/lsm.20048.


Background and objectives: We introduce and clinically examine a new concept of skin treatment called fractional photothermolysis (FP), achieved by applying an array of microscopic treatment zones (MTZ) of thermal injury to the skin.

Study design/materials and methods: Two prototype devices emitting at 1.5 microm wavelength provided a pattern of micro-exposures with variable MTZ density. Effects of different MTZ densities were tested on the forearms of 15 subjects. Clinical effects and histology were assessed up to 3 months after exposure. Treatment of photoaged skin on the periorbital area in an additional 30 subjects receiving four treatments over a period of 2-3 weeks was also tested. Tissue shrinkage and clinical effects were assessed up to 3 months after treatment.

Results: Pattern densities with spacing of 250 microm or more were well tolerated. Typical MTZ had a diameter of 100 microm and penetrated 300 microm into the skin. Reepithelialization was complete within 1 day. Clinical effects were assessed over a 3-month period. Histology at 3 months revealed enhanced undulating rete ridges and increased mucin deposition within the superficial dermis. Periorbital treatments were well tolerated with minimal erythema and edema. Linear shrinkage of 2.1% was measured 3 months after the last treatment. The wrinkle score improved 18% (P < 0.001) 3 months after the last treatment.

Conclusions: FP is a new concept for skin restoration treatment. Safety and efficacy were demonstrated with a prototype device. Further clinical studies are necessary to refine the optimum parameters and to explore further dermatological applications.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Face
  • Female
  • Forearm
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin Aging*