Argon‐fluoride (ArF) excimer laser‐induced acoustic injury was confirmed by ablating the stratum corneum (s.c.) inertially confined by water in vivo. Hairless rats were irradiated through a quartz chamber with flowing distilled water or air and a 2.5 mm aperture. The laser was adjusted to deliver 150 mJ/cm2 at the skin surface for both conditions. Partial and complete ablation of the s.c. was achieved with 12 and 24 pulses, respectively. Immediate damage was assessed by the transmission electron microscopy. Partial ablation of the s.c. through air produced no damage, whereas partial ablation through water damaged skin to a mean depth of 114.5 ± 8.8 μm (±SD). Full thickness ablation of the s.c. through air and water produced damage zones measuring 192.2 ± 16.2 and 293.0 ± 71.6 μm, respectively (P<0.05). The increased depth of damage in the presence of inertial confinement provided by the layer of water strongly supports a photoacoustic mechanism of damage. The damage induced by partial ablation of the s.c. provides evidence that photochemical injury is not a significant factor in the damage at a depth because the retained s.c. acts as a partial barrier to diffusion of photochemical products. Combined with our previous studies, these experiments demonstrate that pressure transients are responsible for the deep damage seen with 193 nm ablation and that photoacoustic effects must be considered when using short‐pulse, high‐peak power lasers.
- surface modification
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