Korean J Dermatol.  2007 Jan;45(1):14-22.

A Comparison of ALA-IPL Photodynamic Therapy and Acne Mode IPL Phototherapy in the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris

  • 1Department of Dermatology, College of Medicine, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Korea. skinewkk@ewha.ac.kr


BACKGROUND: Acne vulgaris is one of the most prevalent and emotionally debilitating dermatologic diseases. Emerging problems with conventional acne treatments, such as the resistance of Propionibacterium acnes to antibiotics and the safety of oral isotretinoin, create a demand for other treatment modalities for acne. An evolving understanding of the Propionibacterium acnes-produced porphyrins and the development of a number of light sources have led to the application of photodynamic therapy for the treatment of acne.
To study the effect of light therapy on the treatment of Acne Vulgaris using acne mode intense pulsed light (IPL), and photodynamic therapy with a combination of topical 5-Aminolevulinic acid (ALA, 20%) and acne mode IPL. A comparison of the two treatment modalities would then be made to examine the effect on inflammatory acne lesions and sebum excretion.
Thirteen patients with varying degrees of acne were included in the study after a 4 week washout period. ALA (20%) was applied to half of the face on each patient. After one hour, the whole face was exposed to intense pulsed light (DECA(R), Italia) using an acne mode (400~1,200 nm) starting at a fluence of 11 J/cm(2). The procedure was carried out three times with 2 week intervals, and the patients were evaluated on post-op 2nd, 4th, and 6th weeks. Histologic changes were observed before and after treatment.
After the first and second treatment, there was a statistically significant reduction in inflammatory acne lesion counts and the amount of sebum production from baseline, in both the ALA-PDT group and the IPL group (p<0.05). However, no statistically significant reduction was shown after the third treatment in both groups. There was a slightly higher reduction in the count of inflammatory lesions and the amount of sebum production in the ALA-PDT site compared to the IPL site, but it was not statistically significant. On histologic examination, dermal inflammatory cell infiltrations around the perivascular and periappendageal area were significantly reduced and sebaceous glands became smaller after the 3rd treatment. The adverse effects were negligible.
ALA-PDT using acne mode IPL, and light therapy using acne mode IPL alone were effective in the reduction of inflamed lesions and sebum secretion in patients with mild to moderate acne vulgaris. Furthermore, no significant adverse effects were observed with both treatments. However, no remarkable contrast of therapeutic effect was statistically observed between the two therapies either.


Acne vulgaris; ALA; IPL; Light therapy; Photodynamic therapy

MeSH Terms

Acne Vulgaris*
Anti-Bacterial Agents
Propionibacterium acnes
Sebaceous Glands
Anti-Bacterial Agents
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