Use of an agent to reduce scattering in skin

Gracie Vargas, Eric K. Chan, Jennifer K. Barton, H. Grady Rylander, Ashley J. Welch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

356 Scopus citations


Background and Objective: A method to increase light transport deeply into target areas of tissue would enhance both therapeutic and diagnostic laser applications. The effects of a hyperosmotic agent on the scattering properties of rat and hamster skin were investigated. Study Design/Materials and Methods: A hyperosmotic agent, glycerol, was applied in vitro and in vivo to rat and hamster skin to assess the changes in tissue optical properties. Changes in the reduced scattering coefficient after application of the agent in vitro to rat skin and after the skin has been rehydrated were assessed to evaluate the effect of the agent on tissue. Results: Experimental results showed a transient change in the optical properties of in vitro rat skin. A 50% increase in transmittance and decrease in diffuse reflectance occurred within 5-10 min after the introduction of anhydrous glycerol. In addition, reduction of light scattering with this technique increased depth of visibility with optical coherence tomography. Injection of glycerol under the skin allowed in vivo visualization of blood vessels. Conclusions: The application of the agent reduces the amount of refractive mismatch found in the tissue and markedly reduces random scattering, thereby making the skin less turbid for visible wavelengths for a controlled period of time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-141
Number of pages9
JournalLasers in Surgery and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Controlled optical properties
  • Glycerol
  • Hyperosmotic
  • Index-matching agent
  • Light scattering
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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