Enhanced topical cutaneous delivery of indocyanine green after various pretreatment regimens: comparison of fractional CO2 laser, fractional Er:YAG laser, microneedling, and radiofrequency

Marilin J. Nieboer, Arne A. Meesters, Mitra Almasian, Giota Georgiou, Menno A. de Rie, Rudolf M. Verdaasdonk, Albert Wolkerstorfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Different devices have been used to enhance topical drug delivery. Aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of different skin pretreatment regimens in topical drug delivery. In six ex vivo human abdominal skin samples, test regions were pretreated with fractional CO 2 and Er:YAG laser (both 70 and 300 μm ablation depth, density of 5%), microneedling (500 μm needle length), fractional radiofrequency (ablation depth of ± 80–90 μm), and no pretreatment. The fluorescent agent indocyanine green (ICG) was applied. After 3 h, fluorescence intensity was measured at several depths using fluorescence photography. Significantly higher surface fluorescence intensities were found for pretreatment with fractional Er:YAG and CO 2 laser and for microneedling vs. no pretreatment (p < 0.05), but not for radiofrequency vs. no pretreatment (p = 0.173). Fluorescence intensity was highest for the Er:YAG laser with 300 μm ablation depth (mean 38.89 arbitrary units; AU), followed by microneedling (33.02 AU) and CO 2 laser with 300 μm ablation depth (26.25 AU). Pretreatment with both lasers with 300 μm ablation depth gave higher fluorescence intensity than with 70 μm ablation depth (Er:YAG laser, 21.65; CO 2 laser, 18.50 AU). Mean fluorescence intensity for radiofrequency was 15.27 AU. Results were comparable at 200 and 400 μm depth in the skin. Pretreatment of the skin with fractional CO 2 laser, fractional Er:YAG laser, and microneedling is effective for topical ICG delivery, while fractional radiofrequency is not. Deeper laser ablation results in improved ICG delivery. These findings may be relevant for the delivery of other drugs with comparable molecular properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1357-1365
Number of pages9
JournalLasers in Medical Science
Issue number6
Early online date27 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020

Cite this