Nd:YAG Lasers

NdYAG Laser Acne Treatment 2

Originally invented in the 1960’s Nd:YAG lasers are among the most common and widely used class of laser.  Nd:YAG lasers are frequently used for the treatment of acne scars. In addition acne scar treatment and other cosmetic applications, Nd:YAG lasers are also routinely employed in eye surgeries, dentistry, cancer treatment and a variety of industrial uses. Nd:YAG lasers are not generally used for treatment of active acne.

How do Nd:YAG Lasers Work?

NdYAG Laser Treatment of Vericose Veins
NdYAG Laser Treatment of Vericose Veins

Nd:YAG Lasers are named for the crystal used as the lasing medium, Neodymium-doped Yttrium Aluminium Garnet (Nd:YAG). Nd:YAG Lasers generally produce an infra-red laser (1064 nm), but most systems are adjustable, allowing the system to produce additional colors of laser beam (532, 940, 1120, 1230, 1320, and 1440 nm). Many dermatology clinics use tunable or Q-switched Nd: YAG laser platforms that allow the production of laser wavelengths down to 530 nm.

Improvement in Skin Roughness After Non Ablative NdYAG Treatment (Friedman)
improvement-in-skin-Improvement in Skin Roughness After Non Ablative NdYAG Treatment (Friedman)

Like other infra-red lasers (e.g. CO2 Lasers) the Nd:YAG Laser works primarily by heating the water molecules in the treatment area. When used at low power, infra-red lasers are used to stimulate cells by heating them up, but not enough to kill them. When used at high power, infra-red lasers can destroy (ablate) the target tissue very quickly. Ablative laser therapy with Nd:YAG Lasers is a popular technique to resurface the skin and treat acne scars by removing scar tissue.

Effect of Non Ablative NdYAG on Acne Scars and Collagen Remodelling (Keller)
Effect of Non Ablative NdYAG on Acne Scars and Collagen Remodelling (Keller)

Laser beams with longer wavelengths are generally capable of penetrating deeper into skin and tissue. Infra-red lasers like Nd:YAG can be quite effective at repairing deep acne scars. Many dermatology laser systems combine an automated coolant spray that is administered simultaneously with the laser treatment. The coolant spray prevents the surface of the skin, the epidermis, from overheating and being damaged. When combined with an infra-red laser like Nd:YAG, this system allows the physician to treat the underlying tissue, while leaving the surface of the skin undamaged.

Nd:YAG Lasers, Active Acne and Acne Scars

Non Ablative NdYAG Treatment of Atrophic Acne Scars Before and After (Keller)
Non Ablative NdYAG Treatment of Atrophic Acne Scars Before and After (Keller)

Nd:YAG Lasers are commonly used as a treatment for acne scars. Nd:YAG Lasers are generally not used as a treatment for active acne. There are numerous clinical research studies on the utility of Nd:YAG Lasers for the treatment of acne scars. Overall, the scientific research indicates that Nd:YAG Lasers can help improve the appearance of acne scars. Along with CO2 and Er:YAG lasers, Nd:YAG lasers are some of the most popular and efficacious systems for treating acne scars.

Effect of NdYAG Laser Treatment on Active Acne and Sebum Production (Deng)
Effect of NdYAG Laser Treatment on Active Acne and Sebum Production (Deng)

There is also a small amount of research that indicates that Nd:YAG Laser treatment may be a helpful treatment for active acne for some people. However, improvements in acne symptoms following Nd:YAG treatment tend to be mild and temporary. Achieving good results requires frequent treatments, which can quickly get very expensive. In spite of this challenge, Nd:YAG treatment of active acne is positively reviewed by some patients.

How and Where are Nd:YAG Laser Treatments Administered?

DermaLase NdYAG Laser Platform
DermaLase NdYAG Laser Platform

Nd:YAG laser treatments are almost exclusively performed in a dermatology and cosmetic surgery clinics, along with hospitals. The cost of Nd:YAG laser treatment varies greatly by the type of application and the number of treatments required to achieve the desired result. Generally speaking, each individual treatment will cost at least $200 dollars. Some of the acne research studies used 8-10 individual treatments. This kind of Nd:YAG acne treatment program could easily cost $2000 dollars.

Ablative Nd:YAG Laser treatments that target acne scars may require fewer sessions and smaller treatment areas, which can hold down costs somewhat. Ablative laser therapy is somewhat invasive and can cause serious damage if done improperly. It is therefore very important to undergo any high-power or ablative laser treatment in a safe, licensed and professional environment.

Common Nd:YAG Laser Systems

Affinity QS, CoolTouch, DermaLase, Excel, Gemini, Genesis, GentleYAG, PhotoSilk, RevLite.

Nd:YAG Laser Images


A randomized, controlled, split-face clinical trial of 1320-nm Nd:YAG laser therapy in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Orringer, et al. 2007.
Fractional 1320 nm Nd : YAG laser in the treatment of acne vulgaris: a pilot study. Deng, et al. 2009.
Laser resurfacing of the skin for the improvement of facial acne scarring: a systematic review of the evidence. Jordan, et al. 2000.
A Preliminary Study of Utilization of the 1320-nm Nd:YAG Laser for the Treatment of Acne Scarring. Sadick, et al. 2004.
Atrophic and a Mixed Pattern of Acne Scars Improved With a 1320-nm Nd:YAG Laser. Rogachefsky, et al. 2003.
Comparison of a 585-nm pulsed dye laser and a 1064-nm Nd:YAG laser for the treatment of acne scars: A randomized split-face clinical study. Lee. et al. 2006.
Comparison of a Long-Pulse Nd:YAG Laser and a Combined 585/1,064-nm Laser for the Treatment of Acne Scars: A Randomized Split-Face Clinical Study. Min, et al. 2009.
Comparison of a Pulsed Dye Laser and a Combined 585/1,064-nm Laser in the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris. Jung, et al. 2009.
Nonablative 1,064-nm Nd:YAG Laser for Treating Atrophic Facial Acne Scars: Histologic and Clinical Analysis. Keller, et al. 2007.
Nonablative Acne Scar Reduction after a Series of Treatments with a Short-Pulsed 1,064-nm Neodymium:YAG Laser. Lipper, et al. 2006.
Patient Satisfaction and Reported Long-Term Therapeutic Efficacy Associated with 1,320 nm Nd:YAG Laser Treatment of Acne Scarring and Photoaging. Bhatia, et al. 2006.
Subcision and 1320-nm Nd:YAG Nonablative Laser Resurfacing for the Treatment of Acne Scars: A Simultaneous Split-Face Single Patient Trial. Fulchiero, et al. 2004.
Treatment of Atrophic Facial Acne Scars With the 1064-nm Q-Switched Nd:YAG Laser. Friedman, et al. 2004.
Nd:YAG laser @ Wikipedia
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Nd:YAG Laser Patient Reviews @ RealSelf