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Comparison of Electrodessication with CO2 Laser for the Treatment of Actinic Cheilitis


  • R.A. Laws, MD, J.L. Wilde, MD, and W.J. Grabski, MD have indicated no significant interest with commercial supporters.

Address correspondence to: Richard A. Laws, MD, 1 Pine Lakes Point, Savannah, GA 31405, or e-mail:


Background. Actinic cheilitis is a common premalignant condition that is most often treated with destructive therapy. The most effective technique is usually considered to be CO2 laser resurfacing. Little has been written on the use of electrodessication for this condition.

Objective. We designed a study to compare these two treatment modalities for the treatment of biopsy-confirmed actinic cheilitis.

Methods. A random half of the lower lip was treated with electrodessication. The contralateral half was then treated with CO2 laser. Healing time, subjective pain during healing, and clinical outcome at 3 months was compared.

Results. The side treated with electrodessication took significantly longer to heal than the side treated with the CO2 laser (23 versus 14 days, P < .001). There was no difference in subjective pain or clinical appearance at 3 months.

Conclusion. Although the healing time is longer with electrodessication, this modality represents an inexpensive practical ablative treatment method for actinic cheilitis.

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