Background and objectiveGeneralized argyria is a blue-gray hyperpigmentation of the skin resulting from ingestion or application of silver compounds, such as silver colloid. Case reports have noted improvement after Q-Switched Neodymium-Yttrium Aluminum Garnet laser (1,064 nm QS Nd:YAG) laser treatment to small surface areas. No reports have objectively monitored laser treatment of generalized argyria over large areas of skin, nor have long-term outcomes been evaluated.
Study design/materials and methodsAn incremental treatment plan was developed for a subject suffering from argyria. A quantitative near infrared spectroscopic measurement technique was employed to non-invasively analyze tissue-pigment characteristics pre- and post-laser treatment. Post-treatment measurements were collected at weeks 1, 2, 3, and 4, and again at 1 year.
ResultsImmediate apparent removal of pigment was observed with 1 Q-switched 1,064 nm Nd:YAG laser treatment (3-6 mm spot; 0.8-2 J/cm(2) ) per area. Entire face, neck, upper chest, and arms were treated over multiple sessions. Treatments were very painful and general anesthesia was utilized in order to treat large areas. Near-infrared spectroscopy was used to characterize and quantify the concentration of silver particles in the dermis based on the absorption features of the silver particles as well as the optical scattering effects they impart. We were able to estimate that there was, on average, 0.042 mg/ml concentration of silver prior to treatment and that these levels went below the minimum detectable limit of the instrument post-treatment. There was no recurrence of discoloration over the 1-year study period.
ConclusionQS 1,064 nm laser treatment of argyria is a viable method to restore normal skin pigmentation with no evidence of recurrence over study period. Quantitative spectroscopic measurements: (1) confirmed dyspigmentation was due to silver, (2) validated our clinical assessment of no recurrence up to 1-year post-treatment, and (3) indicated no collateral tissue damage with treatments.