Yale research shows value of 5-ALA/IPL combination therapy

December 6, 2005

New Haven, Conn.--AYale University School of Medicine randomized trial supports the use of 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) for intense pulsed-light (IPL) treatment of photoaging.

New Haven, Conn.-AYale University School of Medicine randomized trial supports the use of 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) for intense pulsed-light (IPL) treatment of photoaging.

In this prospective study, results of which were reported in the October issue of Archives of Dermatology, 20 subjects received a series of three split-face treatments three weeks apart, in which half of the face was treated with 5-ALA followed by IPL treatment; the other half was treated only with IPL. Subjects then received two additional full-face treatments with IPL alone, delivered three weeks apart. Extent of and improvements in photodamage, fine lines, mottled pigmentation, tactile roughness and sallowness before each treatment and four weeks after the final treatment were rated by a blinded investigator. After the test was completed, patients also completed an assessment comparing their results with pre-treatment photographs.

Compared with IPL treatment alone, pre-treatment with 5-ALA resulted in higher scores for photoaging and mottled pigmentation. Compared with the side treated with IPL alone, the side pretreated with 5-ALA had better results for fine lines and mottled pigmentation. Tactile roughness and sallowness also improved, but pretreatment with 5-ALA did not seem to enhance the results of the IPL treatment. The 5-ALA-treated side had better final-investigator cosmetic evaluations and subject-satisfaction scores.

Yale researcher and co-author Jeffrey S. Dover, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., writes in the study that though “the adjunctive use of 5-ALA with intense pulsed-light treatments has been suggested to increase the benefit of IPL for photoaging, . . . to our knowledge no controlled trials have been performed,” adding that further research to refine the treatment is “proceeding briskly.”