Femtosecond pulsed laser ablation to enhance drug delivery across the skin

Hazel Garvie-Cook, James M. Stone, Fei Yu, Richard H. Guy, Sergey N. Gordeev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (SciVal)


Laser poration of the skin locally removes its outermost, barrier layer, and thereby provides a route for the diffusion of topically applied drugs. Ideally, no thermal damage would surround the pores created in the skin, as tissue coagulation would be expected to limit drug diffusion. Here, a femtosecond pulsed fiber laser is used to porate mammalian skin ex vivo. This first application of a hollow core negative curvature fiber (HC-NCF) to convey a femtosecond pulsed, visible laser beam results in reproducible skin poration. The effect of applying ink to the skin surface, prior to ultra-short pulsed ablation, has been examined and Raman spectroscopy reveals that the least, collateral thermal damage occurs in inked skin. Pre-application of ink reduces the laser power threshold for poration, an effect attributed to the initiation of plasma formation by thermionic electron emission from the dye in the ink. Poration under these conditions significantly increases the percutaneous permeation of caffeine in vitro. Dye-enhanced, plasma-mediated ablation of the skin is therefore a potentially advantageous approach to enhance topical/transdermal drug absorption. The combination of a fiber laser and a HC-NCF, capable of emitting and delivering femtosecond pulsed, visible light, may permit a compact poration device to be developed. Using a femtosecond pulsed, visible laser beam to create an array of micropores in dyed mammalian skin, with little collateral, thermal damage, leads to an enhancement in the percutaneous permeation of caffeine in vitro.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-154
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biophotonics
Issue number1-2
Early online date9 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2016


  • Fiber laser
  • Optical fibers
  • Pulsed laser tissue ablation
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Skin drug administration


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