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“Photon recycling” can enhance cutaneous response to lasers

Study examines the role of a photon recycler and enhancing laser energy at the skin surface.

By Andrea Alstad | Jan 18, 2022

Wausau, WI (January 19, 2022) – Lasers are used to treat a wide variety of skin conditions, including vascular and pigmented lesions, as well as for tattoo removal. For laser treatment of the skin, all the mechanisms begin with light absorption and reflected light is essentially wasted energy. In a recent study, the authors examined the potential to return reflected light to the skin to enhance the response.

ross-victor-eThe clinical report, led by E. Victor Ross, MD is titled, “Photon recycling” can enhance cutaneous response to lasers: A pilot human study.”  The study, published in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine (LSM), the official journal of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Inc. (ASLMS), was selected as the January 2022 Editor’s Choice.

Depending on wavelength and pigmentation, human skin can reflect up to 70% of incident laser light. Ross, along with Jill Raythen, MD and R. Rox Anderson, MD, tested the hypothesis that returning (“recycling”) this diffusely reflected light to the site of laser exposure would increase cutaneous response.

“We performed the study to determine if there was a real role for photon recycling in a clinical device,” Ross said. “We made a working prototype photon recycler and showed that it increases skin response to laser exposure. The recycler recovers lost photons and returns them like a boomerang to the skin surface. In the red and near-infrared spectral region, photon recycling could produce very large improvements in the energy available for treatment.”

E. Victor Ross, MD, CAPT MC, USN (ret) attended Mississippi State University where he graduated summa cum laude with a BS  in physics. He obtained his medical degree from the Tulane University School of Medicine. Dr. Ross is presently the director of the Laser and Cosmetic Dermatology Center at Scripps Clinic in San Diego. He has served as the president and is currently the treasurer of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. He is the author of over one hundred articles and fifteen book chapters. Presently, Dr. Ross is investigating novel approaches with fiber lasers and conducting comparative trials of RF microneedling devices.

Editor’s Choice is an exclusive article published in LSM, the official journal of the ASLMS. View the complete manuscript.

The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Inc. (ASLMS) is the largest multidisciplinary professional organization dedicated to the development and application of lasers and related technology for health care applications. ASLMS promotes excellence in patient care by advancing biomedical application of lasers and other related technologies worldwide. ASLMS membership includes physicians, surgeons, nurses, and allied health professionals representing multiple specialties, physicists involved in product development, biomedical engineers, biologists, industry representatives and manufacturers. For more information, visit


The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Inc. is the world’s largest scientific organization dedicated to promoting research, education and high standards of clinical care in the field of medical laser applications. It provides a forum for the exchange of scientific information and participation in communicating the latest developments in laser medicine and surgery to clinicians, research investigators, government and regulatory agencies, and the public.

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