Laser Treatment of Nevus of Ota: Does It Work in Black Patients?

Doug Brunk

May 03, 2022

SAN DIEGO – Using a 1,064-nm Q-switched Nd:YAG laser with or without 1,550-nm nonablative fractional resurfacing is safe and effective for treatment of Nevus of Ota in Black patients with Fitzpatrick skin types V-VI, results from a small single-center study showed.

Dr Shelby Kubicki

Nevus of Ota is a benign melanocytic lesion that presents as a unilateral blue-gray to blue-brown facial patch favoring the distribution of the first two branches of the trigeminal nerve. Among Asians, the prevalence of the condition among Asians is estimated to be between 0.03% and 1.113%, while the prevalence among Blacks population is estimated to be between 0.01% and 0.016%, Shelby L. Kubicki, MD, said during a clinical abstract session at the annual meeting of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.

"Most existing literature describes the characteristics and treatment of Nevus of Ota based on Asian patients with skin types I-IV," said Kubicki, a third-year dermatology resident at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center/University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, both in Houston. "Special considerations are required when treating [Fitzpatrick skin types] V-VI, which is why it's important to characterize these patients, to make sure they're well represented in the literature."

In what she said is the largest reported case series of its kind, Kubicki and colleagues identified eight Fitzpatrick skin type V or VI patients who underwent laser treatment for Nevus of Ota from 2016-2021. All were treated with the 1,064-nm Q‐switched Nd:YAG and on average, received 5.4 treatments at 2-10 month intervals. Fluence ranged from 1.8 to 2.4 J/cm2, and total pulse count ranged from 536.8 to 831.1. Two of these patients were additionally treated with 1,550-nm nonablative fractional resurfacing with a mean of six treatments. Primary outcomes were based on improvement of before and after clinical photographs by three independent board-certified dermatologists, who used a 5-point visual analogue scale for grading.

The mean age of patients was 30.4 years and ranged from 9 months to 45 years. Six were females and two were males, two had Fitzpatrick skin type V, and six had Fitzpatrick skin type VI. Of the eight patients, six had blue-gray lesions, one patient had a dark brown lesion, and one patient had "a hybrid lesion that had blue-gray and brown discoloration," Kubicki said.

After grading of the clinical photographs, patients demonstrated a mean improvement of 51%-75% at follow-up 5-56 weeks after treatment (a mean of 16.9 weeks). No long-term adverse events were encountered in either group, but three patients developed mild guttate hypopigmentation following laser treatment.

"Lesional color may contribute to outcome, and patients should be educated about the risk of guttate hypopigmentation," Kubicki said. "More studies are needed to determine the optimal device and treatment settings in this population."

In an interview at the meeting, one of the session moderators, Oge Onwudiwe, MD, a dermatologist who practices at AllPhases Dermatology in Alexandria, Va., said that, while the study results impressed her, she speculated that the patients may require more treatments in the future. "What to look out for is the risk of rebound," Onwudiwe said. "Because Nevus of Ota is a hamartomatous lesion, it's very hard to treat, and sometimes it will come back. It will be nice to see how long this treatment can last. If you can use a combination therapy and have ... cases where you're only needing a touch-up every so often, that's still a win."

Another session moderator, Eliot Battle, MD, CEO of Cultura Dermatology and Laser Center in Washington, D.C., said that he wondered what histologic analysis following treatment might show, and if a biopsy after treatment would show "if we really got rid of the nevus, or if we are just cosmetically improving the appearance temporarily."

Neither Kubicki nor Onwudiwe reported having financial disclosures. Battle disclosed that he conducts research for Cynosure. He has also received discounts from Cynosure, Cutera, Solta Medical, Lumenis, Be Inc., and Sciton.

This article originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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