Comparison of Nonablative Fractional Erbium Laser 1,340 nm and Microneedling for the Treatment of Atrophic Acne Scars: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Dermatol Surg. 2016 Feb;42(2):232-41. doi: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000000597.


Background: The efficacy and safety of nonablative fractional laser for acne scars treatment has been described in several studies. Recently, microneedling treatment has been showing promising results with lower costs, quick healing time, and low risk of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).

Objective: To compare the effectiveness and safety of nonablative fractional erbium laser 1,340 nm and microneedling for the treatment of facial atrophic acne scars.

Methods: Forty-six patients with atrophic facial acne scars were randomized to microneedling and laser groups, receiving 3 sessions performed monthly. Two blinded dermatologists applied the validated "Quantitative Global Grading System for Postacne Scarring" scale, before, 2 months, and 6 months after the treatment. Side effects were recorded at each follow-up visit and patient's satisfaction was evaluated.

Results: Both groups showed a significant improvement, and there was no statistically significant difference between results of both therapies (p = .264). The erythema after each session was longer in the laser group and 13.6% subjects experienced PIH. No PIH was observed in the microneedling group.

Conclusion: This study shows that both nonablative fractional laser 1,340 nm and microneedling are comparable and effective in the treatment of atrophic acne scars. Microneedling is well tolerated, with fewer side effects and lower down time.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / complications*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cicatrix / etiology
  • Cicatrix / surgery
  • Cicatrix / therapy*
  • Cosmetic Techniques* / adverse effects
  • Cosmetic Techniques* / instrumentation
  • Erythema / etiology
  • Face / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperpigmentation / etiology
  • Lasers, Solid-State / adverse effects
  • Lasers, Solid-State / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needles
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult