Treatment of recalcitrant port-wine stains (PWS) using a combined pulsed dye laser (PDL) and radiofrequency (RF) energy device

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Pulsed dye laser (PDL) is the treatment of choice for port-wine stains (PWS). Some PWS are recalcitrant to this modality. A number of reasons for PDL treatment resistance have been described, including inadequate heat generation.


We evaluated PDL combined with radiofrequency (RF) energy into a single device to target larger and deeper blood vessels and overcome PDL resistance.


This was an open-label, prospective, single-center investigation of a novel device combining RF energy with PDL conducted to treat recalcitrant PWS. Ten patients with 11 recalcitrant PWS were enrolled. Each PWS was divided into 5 treatment areas: PDL alone, RF alone, PDL+RF, RF+PDL, and untreated control. Patients underwent a maximum of 6 treatments, scheduled 4 to 6 weeks apart with follow-up evaluation at 4 and 12 weeks after the final treatment. Colorimetry and standardized digital photography were performed at all visits. Lesional biopsy specimens were collected for selected patients.


Areas treated with RF followed by PDL and PDL followed by RF showed the greatest improvement based on blinded review of digital photographs, reaching statistical significance (P value < .05) at the 12-week follow-up evaluation when compared with baseline. Adverse events, including purpura, erythema, edema, scabbing, crusting, and blistering, resolved without sequelae; a small residual scar was noted in 1 patient.


Small sample size and short follow-up period are limitations.


Combined RF/PDL technology is promising for the treatment of recalcitrant PWS.

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