Cold Plasma Enhances Topical Anesthetic Prior to Laser Treatment

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Researchers Yue Xin, MD, Xiang Wen, MD, PhD, and Xian Jiang, MD, PhD, sought to assess the efficacy and safety of cold atmospheric plasma (CAP) as a pretreatment to improve the transdermal absorption of topical anesthetic cream before CO2 laser treatment for postacne scars in the human body,. Their findings, published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology (September 2021), showed that plasma pretreatment significantly improved pain management.

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The study included 20 patients that were seeking full facial laser treatment for atrophic acne scars. The patients underwent a randomized split-face study. One side of the face was pretreated by CAP before topical anesthetic cream was applied. The other side was applied with topical anesthetic cream only as control. The subjects then underwent full-face fractional CO2 laser treatment of postacne scars. 

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The patients were asked to score their pain on a visual analogue scale (VAS) after the laser treatment. The authors also recorded possible adverse effects of the plasma during the pretreatment including associated pain, heat, erythema and edema. 

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The VAS score of the treated side was statistically lower (5.1 ± 2.1) compared with the nontreated side (6.3 ± 1.9), with a mean difference of 1.3 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.6-1.9; P < .0001). No severe adverse events were reported, and all the disturbing sensations and symptoms (i.e. pain, heat and edema) were evaluated as mild with no mean score surpassing 4.0.

The authors concluded that plasma pretreatment of five minutes before topical anesthetic cream application provided significant pain reduction during the laser procedures, showing the potential effects of CAP on promoting transdermal drug delivery, with no obvious adverse effects being reported. 

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