Fractionated Carbon Dioxide Laser for the Treatment of Vulvar Lichen Sclerosus: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Leia Mitchell, Andrew T. Goldstein, Debra Heller, Theodora Mautz, Chelsea Thorne, So Yeon Joyce Kong, Maria E. Sophocles, Hillary Tolson, Jill M. Krapf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To estimate the efficacy of fractionated carbon dioxide (CO2) laser therapy for vulvar lichen sclerosus. METHODS: We conducted a prospective, double-blind, randomized, sham-controlled, trial conducted in a clinic specializing in vulvar disorders. The study participants were 40 women with active vulvar lichen sclerosus confirmed with biopsy who were abstaining from topical and systemic treatments for at least 4 weeks before enrollment. Women were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive either five sham laser treatments or five fractionated CO2 treatments in a 24-week period. Study participants, treating clinicians, and the evaluating pathologist were blinded. The primary endpoint was the change in the histopathology scale score between pretreatment and posttreatment biopsies. We estimated 20 per group for 80% power to detect a 40% reduction in the histopathology scale score with up to 10% attrition. A secondary endpoint was the change in the validated CSS (Clinical Scoring System for Vulvar Lichen Sclerosus). RESULTS: From November 2018 to June 2020, 40 women were randomized to participate in the trial, and 37 women (19 fractionated CO2, 18 sham) were included in an intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis. Three women were excluded from the ITT analysis because they did not have posttreatment biopsies and, therefore, a posttreatment histopathology scale score could not be obtained. There was a 0.20 reduction (improvement) in histopathology scale score from baseline in the active treatment group (95% CI -1.1, 0.80, P=.74) and a 0.1 increase from baseline in the sham treatment group (95% CI -0.90, 1.0, P=.91). The change in histopathology scale score between the active and sham arm was not statistically significant (95% CI -1.14, 1.06, P=.76). CONCLUSION: Fractionated CO2 is not an effective monotherapy treatment for vulvar lichen sclerosus. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION:, NCT03665584. FUNDING SOURCE: Additional funding for this study was supplied by El.En Group, Florence, Italy, the manufacturer of the laser used in this study. In addition, El.En Group supplied the laser used in the study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)979-987
Number of pages9
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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