Objective: The aim of this comprehensive review is assess the relevant indications of LLLT in plastic surgery.
Background data: Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a safe adjunct treatment for a myriad indications such as pain, musculoskeletal disorders, or oral mucositis in cancer patients.
Methods: A systematic literature review was performed using the automated computerized PubMed search, with the key words low-level laser therapy and plastic surgery. In vivo and in vitro comparative studies conducted in humans or animals were included. A total of 113 articles were retrieved for screening, and 40 articles were analyzed for data extraction: 28 on animals and 12 on humans.
Results: Thirteen studies on animals showed that LLLT had efficacy in the improvement of flap survival. LLLT on a single spot over the pedicle area of the flap or near the base of the flap seemed to be superior to multi-irradiation. Also, LLLT seemed to improve chronic burn scars in humans, and acute wound healing in animals.
Conclusions: On the contrary, LLLT cannot be considered as a valid therapeutic option for venous ulcers. The published studies on alopecia did not show that LLLT had efficacy for this indication, and on skin aging only two studies are reported showing that LLLT globally improved aging of skin. No side effects have been reported. More comparative studies are needed to validate and widen the medical indications of LLLT in plastic surgery.