Laser and Light Devices for Acne Treatment Continue to Advance

The calendar year 2022 has been especially good for advancing acne-focused laser and light devices, most recently with the Food and Drug Administration clearance of the Accure Laser System in late November, for the treatment of mild to severe inflammatory acne vulgaris.

This was preceded by the FDA clearance of AviClear, marketed by Cutera, in March, and the commercial launch of TheraClearX, marketed by StrataSkin, in July.

“It’s an exciting time to be working with acne,” Fernanda H. Sakamoto, MD, PhD, a dermatologist at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. “We’ll see a lot of people using new devices. I’m looking forward to seeing results in the long term.”

AviClear and the Accure Laser System, marketed by Accure, are both powered by a 1,726-nm laser, but they work differently. AviClear, which was cleared for the treatment of mild, moderate, and severe acne, has a maximum fluence of 30 J/cm2 in single-pulse mode and a maximum fluence of 20 J/cm2 in double-pulse mode. The treatment handpiece has an integrated scanner for delivering treatment spot(s) in an operator-selected pattern. “It’s a little bit lower powered than the Accure and has a maximum pulse energy of 5 joules and a pulse duration of up to 50 milliseconds,” Sakamoto said. In the treatment of acne, laser and light treatments target the sebaceous gland.

In pivotal data submitted to the FDA, 104 patients with acne who were enrolled at 7 U.S. sites received 304 treatments with AviClear spaced 2-5 weeks apart. Each treatment took about 30 minutes. Treatment success was defined as having at least 50% fewer inflammatory acne lesions 12 weeks after the final treatment visit, compared with baseline.

At the week 4 follow-up visit, there were median and mean reductions of 42% and 37%, respectively, in the inflammatory lesion counts from baseline (P < .001). The researchers found that, at the week 4 follow-up visit, 36% of patients had achieved treatment success, which increased to 78% at the 12-week follow-up visit. Treatment was considered safe and tolerable, according to the manufacturer.

The other newcomer device with a 1,726-nm wavelength is the Accure Laser System, which features a smart laser handpiece for real-time thermal monitoring and precise delivery of laser emissions. The device received CE Mark approval in 2020 for the treatment of moderate acne, and on Nov. 22, 2022, the manufacturer announced that it had been cleared by the FDA for the treatment of mild to severe inflammatory acne vulgaris.

Sakamoto and her Wellman colleagues have been working with five dermatologists to conduct clinical trials of the device: Emil Tanghetti, MD, and Mitchel Goldman, MD, in California; Roy Geronemus, MD, in New York; Joel Cohen, MD, in Colorado; and Daniel Friedmann, MD, in Texas. As of Oct. 2, 2022, more than 50 patients with mild to severe acne were enrolled in four studies and an additional 30 were enrolled in a pilot facial acne trial, Sakamoto said. In the trials, patients are followed at 4, 8, 12, and 24 weeks post-treatment.

Among patients enrolled in the facial acne trial, researchers have observed a 100% responder rate for patients with more than five acne lesions at 4, 8, 12, and 24 weeks post treatment after four monthly treatment sessions. The average lesion reduction at week 12 was 82% and the mean visual analog scale score immediately after treatment was 2.09 out of 10.

Each patient received more than 12,000 trigger pulls of energy from the device overall with no adverse events reported. At 12 months, they observed a 90% inflammatory lesion count reduction from baseline and a rapid response to treatment: a 73% reduction achieved after the first two treatment sessions. Histologic studies revealed selective sebaceous gland destruction with no damage to the epidermis, surrounding dermis, or other skin structures.

Sakamoto emphasized that to date no direct clinical comparisons have been made between the AviClear and Accure devices. “Are all 1,726-nm lasers made equal? That is a question that we have to keep in our mind,” she said during the meeting, which was sponsored by Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Wellman Center for Photomedicine. “They are using the same wavelength, but they are different types of lasers.”

For example, the Accure Laser treats to temperature, relies on air cooling, and is targeted to dermatologists and plastic surgeons, while the AviClear treats to fluence, relies on contact cooling, and includes med spas and other nonphysician providers as the target users. “Mathematically, the difference between the two devices is that the Accure can achieve deeper penetration in a single pulse, while the AviClear is a little more superficial,” she said. “Whether that is translated clinically is unknown at this point.”

Sakamoto also discussed the TheraClearX, which is FDA cleared for the treatment of mild, moderate, and severe acne, including comedonal, pustular, and inflammatory acne vulgaris. The device, which is a new version of the Palomar Acleara, uses a vacuum technique with up to 3 psi pressure in conjunction with broadband light with a wavelength spectrum of 500 nm–1,200 nm delivered through a liquid-cooled, handheld delivery system. The predicate device was the Aesthera Isolaz System. The vacuum extracts buildup of sebaceous material. “At the same time, it takes the blood out of the competing chromophore,” she said. “By doing so, it potentially damages the sebaceous glands and reduces the inflammatory lesions.”

Sakamoto disclosed that she is the founder of and science advisor for Lightwater Bioscience. She is also a science advisor for Accure Acne and has received portions of patent royalties from Massachusetts General Hospital.

This article originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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