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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Measuring the effects of topically applied skin optical clearing agents and modeling the effects and consequences for laser therapies

  • Author(s): Verkruysse, W
  • Khan, M
  • Choi, B
  • Svaasand, LO
  • Nelson, SJ
  • et al.

Published Web Location Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License

Human skin prepared with an optical clearing agent manifests reduced scattering as a result of de-hydration and refractive index matching. This has potentially large effects for laser therapies of several skin lesions such as port wine stain, hair removal and tattoo removal. With most topically applied clearing agents the clearing effect is limited because they penetrate poorly through the intact superficial skin layer (stratum corneum). Agent application modi other than topically are impractical and have limited the success of optical clearing in laser dermatology. In recent reports, however, a mixture of lipofylic and hydrofylic agents was shown to successfully penetrate through the intact stratum corneum layer which has raised new interest in this field. Immediately after application, the optical clearing effect is superficial and, as the agent diffuses through the skin, reduced scattering is manifested in deeper skin layers. For practical purposes as well as to maximize therapeutic success, it is important to quantify the reduced scattering as well as the trans-cutaneous transport dynamics of the agent. We determined the time and tissue depth resolved effects of optically cleared skin by inserting a microscopic reflector array in the skin. Depth dependent light intensity was measured by quantifying the signal of the reflector array with optical coherence tomography. A 1-dimensional mass diffusion model was used to estimate a trans-cutaneous transport diffusion constant for the clearing agent mixture. The results are used in Monte Carlo modeling to determine the optimal time of laser treatment after topical application of the optical clearing agent.

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