Context The high prevalence of acne vulgaris and its significant morbidity underscore
the need for convenient, low-risk, and efficacious therapy. Treatment with
various lasers has been reported to improve acne.
Objective To evaluate the clinical efficacy of pulsed dye laser therapy in the
treatment of acne.
Design, Setting, and Patients Randomized, single-blind, controlled, split-face clinical trial of a
volunteer sample of 40 patients aged 13 years or older with facial acne conducted
at an academic referral center from August 2002 to September 2003.
Intervention One or 2 nonpurpuric pulsed dye laser treatments to half of the face
(fluence of 3 J/cm2), serial blinded clinical assessments (lesion
counts), and grading of acne severity using standardized bilateral serial
Main Outcome Measures Comparison of the changes in lesion counts from baseline to 12 weeks
between treated and untreated sides of the face and changes in photographic
evidence of acne severity as graded by a panel of dermatologists blinded to
Results After 12 weeks, using intent-to-treat analysis with last observation
carried forward, there were no significant differences between laser-treated
and untreated skin for changes in mean papule counts (−4.2 vs −2.2; P = .08), mean pustule counts (0 vs −1.0; P = .12), or mean comedone counts (2.9 vs 1.6; P = .63). Grading of serial photographs confirmed the clinical assessments,
showing no significant mean (SE) differences in Leeds scores (range, 1-12)
for treated skin (3.98 [0.32] at baseline and 3.94 [0.27] at week 12) compared
with untreated skin (3.83 [0.32] at baseline and 3.79 [0.28] at week 12) (P>.99).
Conclusions In this study, the nonpurpuric pulsed dye laser therapy did not result
in significant improvement of facial acne. More research is needed before
this laser therapy may be recommended as an acne treatment.