Free-electron laser selectively targets acne sebum structure

Fernanda Sakamoto, MD, of Harvard Medical School and her colleagues at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, MA) are using a tunable free-electron laser (FEL) at Thomas Jefferson Laboratories’ Free Electron Laser Facility (Newport News, VA) to study the principles of selective photothermolysis as a means of altering the chemical bond structures of acne sebum and thus developing more effective laser- and light-based acne treatments.

Fernanda Sakamoto, MD, of Harvard Medical School and her colleagues at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, MA) are using a tunable free-electron laser (FEL) at Thomas Jefferson Laboratories’ Free Electron Laser Facility (Newport News, VA) to study the principles of selective photothermolysis as a means of altering the chemical bond structures of acne sebum and thus developing more effective laser- and light-based acne treatments.

According to Sakamoto, 30% of acne sebum consists of fat, which contains an abundant amount of CH2 bonds. Earlier research demonstrated that laser light can selectively absorb CH2 bonds through chemical-vibration absorption, as opposed to the traditional electronic-absorption transition. This novel approach led to the discovery of two wavelengths (1210 and 1720 nm) that could selectively be absorbed more by fat than by water. Sakamoto’s team used the FEL, which can be tuned for various wavelengths and pulse durations, to target the sebaceous glands. Sakamoto found that more fat absorption of human skin samples occurred at 1700 nm and 125 ms pulse duration. This research is the first discovery of a wavelength that can specifically target the sebaceous glands, without damaging the surrounding epidermis or skin structures. Her work was honored at the Conference of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (April 2–6; Kissimmee, FL) with the “Best Overall Basic Science Award” at the conference. Contact Fernanda Sakamoto at fsak[email protected]

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