Treatment with the diode laser (DL) and fractional microneedling radiofrequency (FMR) resulted in steady improvements in acne, with a reasonable safety profile, in a small prospective split-face study that compared the two treatments.

Both treatments resulted in similar – and steady – improvements during treatment, but FMR was more effective in long-term maintenance, according to H. H. Kwon, MD, of the Oaro Dermatology Clinic, Seoul, South Korea, and associates.

In the 20-week prospective, randomized, split-face study, published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology , 25 Korean patients (Fitzpatrick skin types III or IV), aged 19-37 years, with mild to moderate facial acne, were treated with nonablative 1,450-nm DL and FMR on different sides of their faces every 4 weeks, for a total of three treatments, and were followed up 12 weeks after the third treatment.

During treatment, there were significant improvements in inflammatory acne lesion counts on both sides. At the 12-week follow-up, counts had decreased by 39.3% (from 14.5 at baseline to 9.5) on the DL-treated side and by 58.2% (from 15.6 to 6.0) on the FMR-treated side, a significant difference between the two (P less than .05).

In addition, “both sides demonstrated gradual decreases in sebum output with significant reductions after the second session, and notable difference between the two sides was observed at the follow-up visit,” the authors wrote. Patient self-assessments indicated that they were more satisfied with the degree of improvements in acne, skin texture/enlarged pores, and acne scars on the FMR-treated side.

There was no significant difference in posttreatment erythema and edema associated with the two treatments; mild postinflammatory hyperpigmentation was seen on the DL-treated side in two patients, but not on the FMR-treated side. There were no cases of secondary scarring or infection.

The authors wrote that, as far as they know, this was the first study to compare these two treatments in patients with acne. Based on the results, they concluded, “a few sessions of these devices, as monotherapy or as an element of component of combination therapy, would be a viable option for acne treatment.”

Limitations of the study included the same ethnic background of all the patients, they noted, adding that studies combining treatment with these devices and acne medications in patients with severe acne “would provide clinically interesting data.”

The authors had no disclosures; there was no funding source disclosed.

SOURCE: Kwon HH et al. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2017 Nov 24. doi: 10.1111/jdv.14714).