First came a nod for tattoo removal, and now Cynosure’s PicoSure laser has been green lighted to treat acne scars.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the laser system for helping to erase acne scars in early August. This same laser revolutionized tattoo removal when it was shown to eradicate greens, blues, and other hard-to-erase inks in fewer sessions than older lasers.
In the studies that paved the way for the new acne scar indication, 77% of people treated for acne scars achieved greater than 50% improvement according to their physician. PicoSure scored a 97% physician satisfaction rate at the 1-month follow-up, and this increased to 100% at the 3-month mark. And those who were treated agreed: PicoSure received 76% patient satisfaction rate at the 1-month follow up and increased to 86% patient satisfaction rate at 3 months, the study showed.
PicoSure technology delivers ultra-short pulses of energy in trillionths of a second to promote and remodel the proteins that give skin its supple elastic properties—collagen and elastin. This helps soften the appearance of a scar.
“Up until now the best treatments for acne scars have been ablative lasers with significant pain and downtime, or chemical peels with the same,” explains Anthony Youn, MD, a plastic surgeon in Troy, Mich. “PicoSure, currently in a league of its own for tattoo removal, is now in a league of its own for acne scarring,” he says.
“Typically 2-3 treatments are recommended, and the best part is there is little to no downtime, which is a pronounced departure from what you get with ablative lasers and deep chemical peels,” he says.
There are several different types of acne scars—some which are harder to treat than others. Hypertrophic or keloid scars occur when the body produces too much collagen as acne wounds heal, resulting in a raised scar. By contrast, depressed scars develop when there is a loss of tissue, and include “icepick” scars, which look like small holes in the skin and “boxcar” scars, which are round with steeply angled sides
“I would expect it to work best for acne scarring that isn’t considered ‘icepick’ although some improvement of these types of scars is achieved as well,” Youn says.