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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A theoretical study of the thermal response of skin to cryogen spray cooling and pulsed laser irradiation: Implications for treatment of port wine stain birthmarks

  • Author(s): Anvari, B
  • Tanenbaum, BS
  • Milner, TE
  • Kimel, S
  • Svaasand, LO
  • Nelson, JS
  • et al.

The successful treatment of port wine stain (PWS) patients undergoing laser therapy is based on selective thermal coagulation of blood vessels without damaging the normal overlying epidermis. Cryogen spray cooling of skin may offer an effective method for minimizing epidermal thermal injury. Inasmuch as the density of melanosomes and depth of PWS blood vessels can vary considerably, an optimum cooling strategy is required on an individual patient basis. The authors present a theoretical study of the thermal response of various pigmented PWS lesions to spray cooling in conjunction with flashlamp-pumped pulsed dye laser irradiation (585 nm). Results of the authors' model indicate that precooling of skin using tetrafluoroethane as the cryogen spray is sufficient to eliminate epidermal thermal injury when using incident fluences less than 10 J cm -2 and 8 J cm-2 on patients with intermediate and high epidermal melanin content, respectively. Cryogens that have lower boiling points than tetrafluoroethane may allow successful treatment when using fluences equal to or greater than those indicated.

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