Journal article Open Access

Thermal Diffusion and Specular Reflection, Monte Carlo-based Study on Human Skin via Pulsed Fiber Laser Energy

Rivera-Manrique, S. I.; Brio-Perez, M.; Offerhaus, H. L.; Ek-Ek, J. R.; Alvarez-Chavez, J. A.


The aim of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in acupuncture is sometimes to restore and regulate energy balance by stimulating specific points along the specific meridians traced on the human body via different techniques such as mechanical pressure, moxibustion and others. Hence, physicians have struggled to improve treatment for common diseases such as migraine and headaches. Heat stimulation and some pharmacological effects from moxa have been attributed to the therapeutic efficacy of such techniques. As heat can diffuse through the tissue, skins temperature will rise in the surrounding tissue. In this work, heat diffusion on a simple, 5-layer model of human skin is presented. Based on this, and by using Monte Carlo techniques, a photon or a photon package is launched into the tissue for mimicking the propagation of such photons at two different wavelengths through the tissue. The method generally describes the scholastic nature of radiation interactions. Most of the laser energy is deposited within a volume which cross-sectional area is the size of the beam itself. As could be seen, in the epidermis layer of the model, the heat does not go deep and nearly all the heat diffusion occurs on the edges of the beam, causing losses. Heat dissipation occurs faster and goes down to 2°C in the adipose tissue since there is low water content in this region. On the contrary, there is a fast heat increase in the muscle layer, up to 6°C at the most superficial layer. Since melanin is the most important epidermal chromophore, it can be noted that light shows strong absorption via melanin, at 690nm laser wavelength. In the papillary dermis the heat decreases and spreads out to the surrounding tissue. Once it reaches the adipose tissue, the heat is not absorbed enough; therefore, it is transmitted into the muscle, where the temperature rise is higher and reaches  nearly 40 °C. Finally, photodynamics in a simple 5-layer skin model were explored at two laser wavelengths: 690nm and 1069nm, where no thermal damage would be expected, given the energy level of the employed pulses. Such pulsed laser energy levels remain to be tested in living tissue.

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