Bacterial infections following non-ablative fractional laser treatment: a case series and discussion

Lasers Surg Med. 2015 Feb;47(2):128-32. doi: 10.1002/lsm.22315. Epub 2015 Jan 13.


Non-ablative fractional laser procedures have become increasingly popular since their introduction in 2004. The fractional 1,927 nm thulium laser is a non-ablative device that penetrates up to 300 μm in the skin and the 1,550 nm erbium:glass laser penetrates up to 1,400 μm. These procedures are considered minimally invasive with a high safety profile; therefore, infectious complications are exceedingly rare. However, we report five recent cases of bacterial infection with both gram-positive and gram-negative organisms following treatment with the fractional 1550/1927 nm laser approximately 1 day to 1 week post-procedure. One patient had a rapidly progressing pustular eruption with symptoms of sepsis. These patients were seen immediately, cultures were obtained and empiric antibiotic therapy was initiated. They recovered without long-term complications. Rapid-onset bacterial infections following non-ablative laser resurfacing with the 1550/1927 nm laser have not been previously reported in the literature. The infections can progress quickly and lead to serious sequelae, including systemic illness and severe scarring, if not identified and appropriately treated. We present these cases to highlight the importance of close surveillance and when appropriate, rapid intervention, following non-ablative fractional procedures, especially when patients present with atypical symptoms and signs.

Keywords: bacterial infections; laser complications; non-ablative fractional laser.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acinetobacter Infections / diagnosis
  • Acinetobacter Infections / etiology*
  • Acinetobacter Infections / therapy
  • Acinetobacter baumannii*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Lasers, Solid-State / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Staphylococcal Skin Infections / diagnosis
  • Staphylococcal Skin Infections / etiology*
  • Staphylococcal Skin Infections / therapy
  • Staphylococcus aureus*