Background. There is no single optimal treatment for multiple facial actinic keratoses. The existing therapies such as topical 5-fluorouracil, chemical peels, cryotherapy, dermabrasion, and CO2 laser resurfacing can produce prolonged recovery time or are often operator dependent.
Objective. The purpose of this study was to investigate another therapeutic modality which provides a shorter recovery time with uniform results. We performed a prospective pilot study investigating the use of the Er:YAG laser for the treatment of multiple facial actinic keratoses.
Methods. Five patients with multiple facial actinic keratoses were treated with two to three passes of Er:YAG laser. Anesthesia was achieved in all cases by topical application and local infiltration when indicated. All patients were treated with 2.0 J, 5 mm spot size, and a fluence of 10 J/cm2. Clinical and histologic evaluations were performed both pre- and postoperatively.
Results. All patients showed a decrease in the total number of clinical actinic keratoses on the face ranging from 86 to 96%. In addition to the reversal of actinic damage in the epidermis, histologic evidence revealed increased fibroplasia and decreased superficial solar elastosis 3 months after the laser resurfacing. Reepithelialization occurred in 5–8 days, and erythema lasted for about 3–6 weeks after the procedure. There was no evidence of scarring or pigmentary changes in any of the patients during the follow-up period.
Conclusion. Er:YAG laser skin resurfacing is a safe and effective treatment for multiple facial actinic keratoses. Histologic data suggest a new zone of collagen deposition occurs in the superficial papillary dermis. Under our current parameters, Er:YAG laser skin resurfacing has a relatively short recovery period and a low risk of scarring. Unlike the CO2 laser, Er:YAG laser skin resurfacing can be performed with topical anesthesia alone.