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Treatment of Acne Vulgaris With Salicylic Acid Chemical Peel and Pulsed Dye Laser: A Split Face, Rater-Blinded, Randomized Controlled Trial

Olga Lekakh, Anne Marie Mahoney, Karlee Novice, Julia Kamalpour, Azeen Sadeghian, Dana Mondo, Cathy Kalnicky, Rong Guo, Anthony Peterson, Rebecca Tung




Introduction: Pulsed dye laser (PDL) has been used to treat acne lesions and scar erythema by interrupting superficial vasculature. Salicylic acid chemical peels are employed chiefly due to their lipophilic, comedolytic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Although studies have looked at peels and laser therapy independently in acne management, we examined these treatments in combination. Our primary objective was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of concurrent use of salicylic acid peels with PDL versus salicylic acid peels alone in the treatment of moderate to severe acne vulgaris.

Methods: Adult patients with moderate to severe acne were included. Subjects received a total of 3 treatments at 3-week intervals. Per randomized split-face treatment, at week 0, one half of the subject’s face was treated with PDL (595 nm) followed by whole face application of a 30% salicylic acid peel. At weeks 3 and 6, the treatments were repeated. At 0 and 9 weeks, patients were assessed with the Global Evaluation Acne (GEA) scale and Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) questionnaire.

Results: Nineteen subjects were enrolled, and 18 completed the study. Significant improvement in acne was seen in both the combined (laser and peel) and chemical peel alone treatment arms (P < .0005 and P = .001). Using the GEA scale score, compared to week 0, the mean difference in acne improvement at week 9 was -1.61 in the combination therapy group versus -1.11 in the peel only group. Based on the GEA scale scoring, a statistically significant greater difference in acne improvement was seen, from week 0 to week 9, in the combination treatment group compared with the peel only group (P = .003).

Conclusion: While acne subjects had significant benefit from the salicylic acid peel alone, they experienced greater significant benefit from PDL treatment used in conjunction with salicylic acid peels. The adjunctive utilization of PDL to salicylic acid peel therapy can lead to better outcomes in acne management.


Lasers; Acne; Combination therapy; Multimodal treatment.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22037/jlms.v6i4.7602