Topical Sensitizer and Laser Therapy May Improve Photo-damaged Skin

Research from the University of Michigan Health System Department of Dermatology indicates that the appearance of sun-damaged skin could be improved by a topical product that increases skin’s sensitivity to light, followed by laser therapy. According to a report on the university Web site, in the new study, participants whose skin was sun-damaged or photodamaged were treated topically with the photosensitizer 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) and then with a pulsed dye laser. This treatment, known as photodynamic therapy, was shown to increase collagen levels in the skin was also reported to improve the skin's appearance. Results also suggest that skin with the most sun damage may respond well to this treatment. This report, “Molecular Effects of Photodynamic Therapy for Photoaging,” was published in the Oct. 10, 2008, Archives of Dermatology.

According to the report, the study looked at 24 adults, ages 54 to 83, all of whom had significant photodamage on the forearm skin. Participants received a three-hour application of 5-ALA ,followed by pulsed dye laser therapy. Researchers examined biopsies taken before treatment, and at several points after the treatments and the molecular changes in the participants’ skin at various stages were recorded.

Among other molecular changes, levels of the proteins procollagen I and procollagen III reportedly increased after treatment. Other protein level molecular markers also increased. For more information, visit the university Web site at

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