Comparison of Photographic Methods

February 2015 | Volume 14 | Issue 2 | Original Article | 134 | Copyright © February 2015

Kristin K. Marcum MD,a Neal D. Goldman MD,c and Laura F. Sandoval DOb

a,bDepartment of Otolaryngology and Department of Dermatology; Wake Forest School of Medicine; Winston-Salem, NC
cThe Goldman Center for Facial Plastic Surgery, Boone, NC

BACKGROUND: Photo documentation has become increasing important in medicine, especially given the demand for cosmetic procedures. Standard photography is not always adequate; newer techniques exploring the use of polarized, cross and ultraviolet photography can give detailed information on subtle skin lesions including skin pigmentation and skin surface characteristics.
OBJECTIVE: To use various methods of photography including standard photography, cross polarized light, parallel polarized light and ultraviolet passing photography to assess which method most effectively captures skin features such as texture, pigment, and/ or vascularity.
METHODS: A prospective analysis comparing advanced photographic techniques including standard photography, polarized light photography, cross-polarized light photography and ultraviolet light passing photography. The photos were then evaluated and scored by two experts and a blinded observer to characterize the differences visualized in each type of photography compared to standard photography in terms of subsurface skin features, hypopigmentation, hyperpigmentation, and rhytids.
RESULTS: 9 subjects completed the study. Overall, of the 3 photographic methods compared to standard photography, UV passing most enhanced the visualization of subsurface features and hypopigmentation, with increased hyperpigmentation as well. Enhancement of these features made UV passing best for capturing photodamage. Cross-polarized photography was best for visualizing hyperpigmentation, but also heightened visualization of hypopigmentation and subsurface features such as vascularity. Parallel-polarized photography enhanced visualization of skin texture.
CONCLUSIONS: These methods of photography show a quantifiable and reproducible selective ability to evaluate and document elements such as skin texture, vascularity, and pigmentation. Each of these techniques has unique properties that can add to the precision of the clinical evaluation and can be of particular value to providers of cosmetic procedures where photo documentation has become increasingly important in providing an objective means of evaluating outcomes.

J Drugs Dermatol. 2015;14(2):134-139.