Skin Optics

M. J.C. Van Gemert, Steven L. Jacques, H. J.C.M. Sterenborg, W. M. Star

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

704 Scopus citations


Quantitative dosimetry in the treatment of skin disorders with (laser) light requires information on propagation of light in the skin related to the optical properties of the individual skin layers. This involves the solution of the integro-differential equation of radiative transfer in a model representing skin geometry, as well as experimental methods to determine the optical properties of each skin layer. These activities are unified under the name skin optics. This paper first reviews the current status of tissue optics, distinguishing between the cases of: dominant absorption, dominant scattering, and scattering about equal to absorption. Then, previously published data as well as some current unpublished data on (human) stratum corneum, epidermis and dermis, have been collected and/or (re)analyzed in terms of absorption coefficient, scattering coefficient, and anisotropy factor of scattering. The results are that the individual skin layers show strongly forward scattering (anisotropy factors between 0.7 and 0.9). The absorption and scattering data show that for all wavelengths considered scattering is much more important than absorption. Under such circumstances, solutions to the transport equation for a multilayer skin model and finite beam laser irradiation are currently not yet available. Hence, any quantitative dosimetry for skin treated with (laser) light is currently lacking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1146-1154
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Skin Optics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this