Background: There is a need for additional effective treatments for acne vulgaris. Laser therapy has been explored as a therapeutic option for acne, but rigorously designed studies in this area have been limited. Objective: We sought to examine the efficacy of an infrared laser in the treatment of acne. Methods: We conducted a randomized, controlled, single-blind, split-face clinical trial of 46 patients with facial acne. Patients received a series of 3 nonablative laser treatments using a novel neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd:YAG) laser to half of the face. Serial blinded lesion counts and global acne severity rating of standardized bilateral patient photographs were performed. Sebum production was measured, and patient self-assessment surveys were administered. Results: A transient but statistically significant improvement in lesion counts of open comedones was demonstrated in treated skin as compared with untreated skin. There were no significant differences between treated and control sides of the face in terms of changes in mean papule or pustule counts. Grading of serial photographs revealed no significant differences between treated and untreated skin. Patient surveys indicated that the majority of patients found the treatments to be at least mildly effective for both acne and oiliness. Limitations: The current study only addresses the efficacy of a single laser system employing a specific treatment regimen. Conclusions: Infrared laser therapy may improve comedonal acne. Additional work is needed to better define the degree and duration of the effect. Patients appear to positively view such therapy for both acne and oily skin.
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