Review of Fractional Photothermolysis: Treatment Indications and Efficacy


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: C. William Hanke, MD, Director, Laser and Skin Surgery Center of Indiana, St. Vincent's Hospital, 13450 N. Meridian Street, Suite 355, Carmel, IN 46032, or e-mail:


BACKGROUND Fractional photothermolysis (FP) is one of the most significant milestones in laser technology and resurfacing.

METHODS Review of the Medline English literature and recent international conferences regarding FP technology, applications, and indications.

RESULTS Successful conditions treated with nonablative FP reported in the literature include acne scarring; dyschromia and fine wrinkling of photoaging on the face, chest, neck, and hands; melasma; poikiloderma of Civatte; nevus of Ota; scars; minocycline hyperpigmentation; telangiectatic matting; residual hemangioma; granuloma annulare; colloid milium; and disseminated superficial actinic porokeratosis. An advance in 2007 was the introduction of ablative FP (AFP), which results in significantly greater improvement in skin laxity and textural abnormalities. Most recently, AFP has demonstrated significantly greater improvement than nonablative FP in reducing acne scarring and skin redundancy and laxity associated with photoaging.

CONCLUSIONS Through the induction of microthermal zones of injury, FP technology stimulates a robust and rapid wound healing response resulting in improvement in a diversity of aesthetic, inflammatory, and preneoplastic skin disorders. Further investigation into the technology and diverse array of cutaneous conditions that can benefit from FP is highly needed.