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Ablative Fractional Resurfacing in Topical Drug Delivery: An Update and Outlook


  • The authors have indicated no significant interest with commercial supporters.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Bradley S. Bloom, MD, Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology, NYU School of Medicine, 240 East 38th Street—11th floor, New York, NY 10016, or e-mail:



The effective delivery of therapeutic molecules to varied targets in the skin and elsewhere has been an area of ongoing research and development.


To review the structure of the skin with an emphasis on topical drug delivery and to present the rationale for the use of ablative and nonablative fractional resurfacing in assisted drug delivery.

Methods and Materials

Review of the currently available scientific literature on laser-assisted drug delivery.


A number of strategies can be employed to enhance topical drug delivery. Ablative fractional resurfacing (AFR) has been demonstrated to be effective in enhancing drug delivery. Further studies are needed to assess the use of nonablative fractional resurfacing in assisted drug delivery.


AFR-assisted drug delivery is a promising tool for the future of dermatology. We expect to see a number of agents to be paired with AFR for enhanced drug delivery. Further investigation is necessary to evaluate appropriate drug specific channel density and depth parameters. Factors that must be considered include the physicochemical properties of the drug, the target tissue, skin wounding, and cost when evaluating the drugs and conditions that will most benefit from this promising new drug delivery system.

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