A new picosecond laser has been approved for treating acne scars by the US FDA. Picosecond lasers are typically used for tattoo removal and treating pigmented skin spots, such as our very own PiQ04 – one of only three of its kind in Australia.
A study into picosecond lasers for treating acne scarring saw some success on facial acne scars, with a small group of study participants. The seventeen people in the group had six laser treatments on their scars, six to eight weeks apart. The treatments took about 10-15 minutes each.
The results were encouraging, with in particular those with deeper scars still being pleased with the results. The appearance of scars was improved by 25-50 per cent one month after the last treatment, and these improvements were maintained after three months.
The typical treatment for acne scarring is what’s known as a fractional ablative laser, which is a bit rougher on skin than the picosecond laser. Fractional ablative lasers remove layers of skin to even out skin tone and the appearance of scarring, and can take up to a month to heal. The picosecond laser does not remove parts of the skin, and thus healing can occur faster. This means those less able to take time off to recover may prefer the picosecond laser treatments for acne scarring.
The results of fractional ablative lasers are typically very good, but less abrasive treatments are always a welcome addition to a cosmetic dermatologist’s toolkit. What treatment each patient will be best suited to depends on their individual skin type and severity of scarring. Severe scarring may benefit from the more aggressive fractional ablative laser treatments.
As with many great discoveries, the acne scar treatment potential of the picosecond laser was discovered by accident, during tattoo removal. A woman’s stretch marks improved while getting her tattoo removed, so the clinicians decided to see how well it worked on acne scars, with some success.