Fractional photothermolysis: current and future applications

Lasers Surg Med. 2006 Mar;38(3):169-76. doi: 10.1002/lsm.20310.


Ablative lasers (CO2 and Er:YAG) provide the greatest improvement in photoaging, but significant adverse effects limit their use. Nonablative lasers have reduced adverse effects, but limited efficacy. Fractional photothermolysis (FP) produces arrays of microscopic thermal wounds called microscopic treatment zones (MTZs) at specific depths in the skin without injuring surrounding tissue. Wounding is not apparent because the stratum corneum remains intact during treatment and acts as a natural bandage. Downtime is minimal and erythema is mild, permitting patients to apply cosmetics immediately after treatment. As with other nonablative laser modalities, multiple treatments are required. FP represents an alternative for treatment of dermatologic conditions without the adverse effects of ablative laser devices and can be used on all parts of the body. FP can be used for the treatment of facial rhytides, acne scars, surgical scars, melasma, and photodamaged skin.

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / complications
  • Adult
  • Cicatrix / therapy*
  • Dermis / pathology
  • Dermis / radiation effects
  • Face
  • Female
  • Forearm
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanosis / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Phototherapy / methods*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin / radiation effects
  • Skin Aging / radiation effects*