Acne treatment by methyl aminolevulinate photodynamic therapy with red light vs. intense pulsed light

Int J Dermatol. 2013 May;52(5):614-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2012.05673.x. Epub 2012 Oct 9.


Various methods of photodynamic therapy (PDT) for acne have been introduced. However, comparative studies among them are still needed. We performed this study to compare the effect of methyl aminolevulinate (MAL) PDT for acne between red light and intense pulsed light (IPL). Twenty patients were enrolled in this eight-week, prospective, split-face study. We applied MAL cream over the whole face with a three-hour incubation time. Then patients were irradiated with 22 J/cm(2) of red light on one-half of the face and 8-10 J/cm(2) of IPL on the other half during each treatment session. We performed three treatment sessions at two-week intervals and followed-up patients until four weeks after the last session. Inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions were reduced significantly on both sides. The red light side showed a better response than the IPL side after the first treatment. Serious adverse effects after treatment were not observed. MAL-PDT with red light and IPL are both an effective and safe modality in acne treatment. Red light showed a faster response time than IPL. After multiple sessions, both light sources demonstrated satisfactory results. We suggest that reducing the total dose of red light is desirable when performing MAL-PDT in Asian patients with acne compared with Caucasians.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Adult
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Color
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intense Pulsed Light Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Pain / etiology
  • Photochemotherapy* / adverse effects
  • Photosensitizing Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Young Adult


  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • methyl 5-aminolevulinate
  • Aminolevulinic Acid