Sonoillumination May Expand Skin Types That Can Be Treated With Laser Therapy Interview with:

Paul J.D. Whiteside, doctoral candidate and Dr. Heather Hunt, assistant professor of bioengineering University of Missouri

Dr. Heather Hunt and Paul Whiteside

Paul J.D. Whiteside, doctoral candidate and
Dr. Heather Hunt, assistant professor of bioengineering
University of Missouri What is the background for this technology? What are the barriers to the use of conventional laser treatment of tattoos?

Response: Traditional laser treatments rely on the concept of selective photothermolysis (laser-induced heating) to specifically target certain structures for treatment, while leaving other parts of the skin unaffected. The problem with traditional laser treatments is that the laser needs to transmit through the epidermis, which acts as a barrier to laser transmission both due to its reflective properties and because it is filled with light-absorbing melanin, the pigment that gives our skin its color. Sonoillumination acts to change the properties of the epidermis temporarily using painless ultrasound technology, thereby allowing more laser light to penetrate deeper into the skin to impact desired targets, such as hair follicles, tattoos, and blood vessels. Funding for clinical trials is currently being sought to provide evidence for what we surmise may be benefits of this technology relative to traditional laser treatments. These benefits may include being able to treat darker-skinned people more effectively, being able to provide laser therapy with less risk of scarring or pigment changes, and being able to do treatments with less discomfort, fewer treatments, and lower laser energy settings. How does Sonoillumination differ from laser therapy? Does it work on particular types of pigment or colors? Certain skin types? Does it result in a plume or gas?

Response: The beauty of the sonoillumination technology is that it will likely expand the number of skin types that can be treated with lasers by using ultrasound to temporarily clear melanin from the path of the laser. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: We have developed a novel laser delivery technology that markedly reduces the risk of eye injury for the patient and the laser operator. It also allows new therapies, such as ultrasound, to be combined with laser treatments. We have shown that the simultaneous combination of laser and ultrasound with this delivery tool is able to allow increased penetration of laser light into skin and may have significant impacts on the safety and effectiveness of medical and cosmetic laser treatments. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: This technology requires investment to proceed with clinical trials and ultimately commercialization. It was designed to be able to be used with any laser wavelength or system and could complement all currently used laser systems. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Ultrasonic modulation of tissue optical properties in ex vivo porcine skin to improve transmitted transdermal laser intensity
Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on April 17, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD