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A prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, and split-face clinical study on LED phototherapy for skin rejuvenation: clinical, profilometric, histologic, ultrastructural, and biochemical evaluations and comparison of three different treatment settings

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are considered to be effective in skin rejuvenation. We investigated the clinical efficacy of LED phototherapy for skin rejuvenation through the comparison with three different treatment parameters and a control, and also examined the LED-induced histological, ultrastructural, and biochemical changes. Seventy-six patients with facial wrinkles were treated with quasimonochromatic LED devices on the right half of their faces. All subjects were randomly divided into four groups treated with either 830nm alone, 633nm alone, a combination of 830 and 633nm, or a sham treatment light, twice a week for four weeks. Serial photography, profilometry, and objective measurements of the skin elasticity and melanin were performed during the treatment period with a three-month follow-up period. The subject’s and investigator’s assessments were double-blinded. Skin specimens were evaluated for the histologic and ultrastructural changes, alteration in the status of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their tissue inhibitors (TIMPs), and the changes in the mRNA levels of IL-1ss, TNF-alpha, ICAM-1, IL-6 and connexin 43 (Cx43), by utilizing specific stains, TEM, immunohistochemistry, and real-time RT-PCR, respectively. In the results, objectively measured data showed significant reductions of wrinkles (maximum: 36%) and increases of skin elasticity (maximum: 19%) compared to baseline on the treated face in the three treatment groups. Histologically, a marked increase in the amount of collagen and elastic fibers in all treatment groups was observed. Ultrastructural examination demonstrated highly activated fibroblasts, surrounded by abundant elastic and collagen fibers. Immunohistochemistry showed an increase of TIMP-1 and 2. RT-PCR results showed the mRNA levels of IL-1ss, TNF-alpha, ICAM-1, and Cx43 increased after LED phototherapy whereas that of IL-6 decreased. This therapy was well-tolerated by all patients with no adverse effects. We concluded that 830 and 633nm LED phototherapy is an effective approach for skin rejuvenation.