SAN DIEGO (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – A review of existing research found that newer technologies are safer and more effective at skin rejuvenation than older ones, with two types – intense pulsed laser (IPL) and radiofrequency (RF) – at or near the head of the pack on both fronts.

In addition, 10 types of treatments, including multiple laser technologies, scored higher than facial peels on safety, although the peels beat almost all comers in terms of efficacy, the study’s lead author, Caerwyn Ash, PhD, said in an interview after presenting the results at the annual meeting of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.

While it’s difficult to compare the different approaches across studies, the findings reveal the benefits of technological advances in skin rejuvenation, he noted.

The review is unique because it maps the various treatments on two axes – safety and efficacy – in a chart. Viewers gain an instant perspective on how the individual treatments fare when stacked up against each other. “The study gives credence to the new technologies,” said Dr. Ash, associate professor of medical devices at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea. “We’re moving toward safer and more efficacious results.”

He and his colleagues analyzed more than 500 studies published since 1985, which evaluated 15 different types of technology used for facial rejuvenation. They reviewed at least 35 clinical studies per platform. They also reported on the safety and efficacy of facial peels.

The technologies examined included RF, light emitting diode (LED), pulsed dyed laser (PDL), frequency doubled 532-nm potassium-titanyl-phosphate neodymium:YAG laser (which had a low number of clinical studies), 980-nm diode laser, Q-switched Nd:YAG laser, 1320-nm Nd:YAG laser, 1540-nm Erbium:glass laser, 1450-nm diode laser, IPL, long pulsed Nd:YAG laser, plasma, and copper bromide laser.

Another technology reviewed was fractional selective photothermolysis, but studies of this modality were difficult to compare, according to the authors. Also included was the carbon dioxide laser, which the authors described as being hampered by long healing times and discomfort that requires anesthesia.

The review notes that comparisons between studies of the different treatments in the review were limited by such factors as varied beam and tip sizes (even within individual studies), various pulse durations, and different treatment times and intervals.

The researchers mapped the treatments in a single chart on two axes, safety and efficacy.

Three treatments scored the best in terms of efficacy: RF, IPL and chemical peels. However, while RF and IPL scored near the top of all treatments on the safety scale, chemical peels pulled up the rear.

The treatment strategies on the safety scale, ranked from most safe to least safe, were LED, IPL, diode laser, RF, argon laser, PDL and carbon dioxide laser, Nd:YAG, ablative Erbium, plasma, and chemical peel.

Radiofrequency topped the efficacy scale, followed closely by chemical peel and IPL. Following them, from most efficacious to least efficacious, were carbon dioxide laser, ablative Erbium, plasma treatments, and PDL, Nd:YAG and argon laser, diode laser, and LED.

The study was funded by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. The authors had no disclosures.


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