Selective sebaceous gland electrothermolysis as a treatment for acne: a prospective pilot study

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Although many therapeutic options exist for acne, relapse often occurs after treatment is stopped. Some preliminary evidence suggests that selective electrothermolysis of the sebaceous glands may represent a novel therapeutic intervention. This trial was conducted to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of selective sebaceous gland electrothermolysis for the treatment of facial acne. Twelve patients with facial acne were enrolled, all of whom underwent three sessions of therapy. During each session, a 1.5-mm long needle with 0.45-mm of base insulation was inserted into pores of acne lesions. Upon insertion, a high-frequency electrical current was applied for 0.25–0.50 seconds, for a total output of 40 W. Each treatment session took approximately 30–60 minutes. Subject response to therapy was evaluated at one month and 12 months after the final treatment. All the enrolled subjects completed the study and all reported satisfaction with treatment results. In all cases, a reduction in inflammatory and noninflammatory lesion counts was observed after three sessions of selective electrothermolysis, although a few small papules and comedones persisted in several areas of untreated facial skin. Mean lesion reduction at one month after the final treatment was 98.14% for inflammatory lesions and 83.09% for noninflammatory lesions. Clinical success was achieved in the majority of patients (seven of 12 patients) at one month after the second treatment and in all patients at one month after the final treatment. All patients reported transient post-treatment erythema, which faded after a few days. Clinically evident relapse occurred in two of 12 patients (16.7%) one year after the final treatment session. Selective sebaceous gland electrothermolysis can be a safe and effective method of achieving consistent remission in acne.

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