Laser Safety in Isotretinoin Use: A Survey of Expert Opinion and Practice

Heidi B. Prather, Murad Alam, Emily Poon, Kenneth A. Arndt, Jeffrey S. Dover*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND Reports of poor wound healing in the setting of isotretinoin treatment have created a conservative standard of care in which laser and phototherapy treatment of patients receiving isotretinoin is relatively contraindicated. OBJECTIVE A survey of 220 nationally recognized experts in cutaneous laser surgery was conducted to evaluate physician experience and opinion pertaining to laser and light procedures in patients treated with isotretinoin, including perceived risk and actual complications. RESULTS There was a 42% response rate. Seventy-six percent of respondents have never seen in their own clinical practices any cases of complications arising in patients treated with laser while receiving isotretinoin or within 6 months of completing a course of therapy. Almost half of respondents have treated patients in this subpopulation with laser, although only a small minority have done so with ablative devices. Common concerns among respondents regarding isotretinoin patients are the risks of poor wound healing and scarring, but the most often reported concern is medicolegal risk (74%). CONCLUSION It would seem that the risk of performing laser procedures on patients receiving isotretinoin or having recently completed a course, as estimated and observed by cutaneous laser experts, is lower than the currently perceived risk among the general medical community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-363
Number of pages7
JournalDermatologic Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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