Photobiomodulation With Non-Thermal Lasers: Mechanisms of Action and Therapeutic Uses in Dermatology and Aesthetic Medicine

J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2017 Aug;19(4):190-198. doi: 10.1080/14764172.2017.1293828. Epub 2017 Feb 17.


Background: Non-thermal laser therapy in dermatology, is a growing field in medical technology by which therapeutic effects are achieved by exposing tissues to specific wavelengths of light.

Objectives: The purpose of this review was to gain a better understanding of the science behind non-thermal laser and the evidence supporting its use in dermatology.

Methods: A group of dermatologists and surgeons recently convened to review the evidence supporting the use of non-thermal laser for body sculpting, improving the appearance of cellulite, and treating onychomycosis.

Results: The use of non-thermal laser for body sculpting is supported by three randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled studies (N = 161), one prospective open-label study (N = 54), and two retrospective studies (N = 775). Non-thermal laser application for improving the appearance of cellulite is supported by one randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled study (N = 38). The use of non-thermal laser for the treatment of onychomycosis is supported by an analysis of three non-randomized, open-label studies demonstrating clinical improvement of nails (N = 292).

Conclusions: Non-thermal laser is steadily moving into mainstream medical practice, such as dermatology. Although present studies have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of non-thermal laser for body sculpting, cellulite reduction and onychomycosis treatment, studies demonstrating the efficacy of non-thermal laser as a stand-alone procedure are still inadequate.

Keywords: Non-thermal laser therapy; acne; aesthetic dermatology; body sculpting; consensus panel; low-level light therapy; onychomycosis; photobiomodulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cosmetic Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Esthetics*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Lasers, Semiconductor / therapeutic use
  • Lasers, Solid-State / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Onychomycosis / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome