Intense Pulsed Light for Severe Chest and Back Acne

photo therpy, laser, aesthetic medicine
Researchers assess the efficacy, safety, and reproducibility of an IPL protocol as monotherapy for acne of the chest and back.

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy is safe and effective for severe acne on the chest and back, providing aesthetic and therapeutic results in 85% of treated patients, according to study findings published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.

Researchers assessed the efficacy, safety, and reproducibility of an IPL protocol as monotherapy for acne of the chest and back. Patients were enrolled according to the Cook’s Acne Grading Scale method (grading 4-6) and the Pillsbury Scale (III-IV).

A total of 50 patients (mean age, 23.8 years; range, 18-40) with Fitzpatrick skin types II to III and moderate to severe papulopustular acne on the chest and back were retrospectively included. Of the cohort, 64% had received conventional topical and systemic acne treatments with antibiotics and isotretinoin without remarkable improvement.

The investigators used an IPL hand piece to treat each area once per session. The protocol included 4 sessions, each occurring after a 2-week interval. Patients were followed up every 2 weeks for 5 weeks.

After the first session, 26% had an excellent outcome (90% reduction of papules and pustules) and 50% had marked improvement (89%-60% reduction of in­flammatory lesions). In addition, 4 patients had a partial response without improvement in papulopustular lesions, 2 patients showed no response, and 1 patient’s condition worsened.

At the fifth session, 50% of the patients had an excellent outcome and 35% had marked improvement. No statistical difference was observed regarding participants’ age or sex.

Among the participants, 96% improved at the end of the fourth session without side effects. Erythema and burning were the most frequently reported side effects, which resolved within 96 hours of treatment. Pain was reported as mild or moderate in most patients within 3 minutes after the end of the session.

“Based on the possibility of using different combinations of wavelength, pulse duration, delay, and ­fluency, IPL represents a good tool in the treatment of acne, since its flexibility could achieve important improvements within the context of the variable in­flammatory and noninflammatory clinical presentation of acne,” the study authors commented. “The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects of IPL result in a reduction of lesion count and prevention of the formation of new lesions.”


Piccolo D, Kostaki D, Dianzani C, Crisman G, Conforti C. E­ffective intense pulsed light protocol in the treatment of moderate to severe acne vulgaris of the chest and back. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2022;15(3):22-25. PMID: 35342499