Photodynamic photorejuvenation of the face with a combination of microneedling, red light, and broadband pulsed light



High efficacy and safety, coupled with in-office, short contact protocols have made photodynamic therapy (PDT) with aminolevulenic acid (ALA) for the treatment of actinic keratoses a mainstay option over the last decade. Clinical improvement in photoaged skin has also been reported to accompany PDT treatments. The study objective was to maximize epidermal penetration and subsequent activation of ALA for the treatment of photodamaged facial skin, utilizing a microneedle roller prior to incubation and combined irradiation with red light and broadband pulsed light in a single treatment.

Materials and Methods

A full-face treatment of 21 patients was performed with 630 nm light and broadband pulsed light after multiple passes with a microneedle roller and 1-hour ALA incubation. The primary endpoint was clinical improvement, scored during two separate live assessments by three physicians blinded to previous scores, using a 5-point standardized photoaging scale. The secondary endpoint was evaluation of patient satisfaction based on a quartile scale comparing baseline to 6-month post-treatment photography.


Statistically significant improvement was seen in the global photoaging scores, as well as sub-components of the scale (fine lines, mottled pigmentation, sallowness, tactile roughness, and telangiectasias) at 3 months as compared with baseline live assessment, and at 6-month live assessment compared with the 3 months. In addition, 90% of patients judged clinical improvement to be greater than 50% at 6 months compared to baseline photography.


Use of a microneedle roller to “pre-treat” prior to application of ALA appears to be well tolerated and allows for even absorption and perhaps deeper penetration of ALA following a defined incubation period. Use of red light and broadband pulsed light allowed for deeper activation of ALA, potentially accounting for marked clinical improvement in photoaging. Lasers Surg. Med. 42:150–159, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.