(HealthDay News) – Laser treatments targeting the sebaceous glands may potentially be used for the treatment of acne, according to a study published in the February issue of Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.

Fernanda H. Sakamoto, MD, PhD, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues studied absorption spectra of natural and artificially prepared sebum (measured from 200–3,000nm). The Jefferson National Accelerator superconducting free electron laser (FEL) was used to measure photothermal excitation of aqueous gels, artificial sebum, pig skin, human scalp, and forehead skin. In vitro skin samples were exposed to FEL pulses from 1,620–1,720nm, spot diameter 7–9.5mm with exposure through a cold 4ºC sapphire window in contact with the skin. Exposed and control tissue samples were stained using hematoxylin and eosin. Nitroblue tetrazolium chloride (NBTC) staining was used to detect thermal denaturation.

The researchers found that natural and artificial sebum both had absorption peaks near 1,210, 1,728, 1,760, 2,306 and 2,346nm. Laser-induced heating of artificial sebum was approximately twice that of water (1,710 and 1,720nm) and about 1.5 times higher in human sebaceous glands than in water. Transient focal heating near sebaceous hair follicles was evident on thermal camera imaging. Histologically, skin samples exposed to approximately 1,700nm, 100–125 milliseconds pulses showed evidence of selective thermal damage to sebaceous glands. Laser-exposed sebaceous glands were positive for NBTC staining, without evidence of selective loss. None of the samples exhibited damage to the epidermis.

“Selective photothermolysis of sebaceous glands appears to be feasible,” the authors write.

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