BACKGROUND Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is capable of providing a noninvasive real-time cross-sectional image of the skin through light-based interferometry, a method sometimes described as "light-based ultrasound." One key application of OCT in dermatology is the visualization of dermal collagen during chronological aging, photoaging, or photodamage. These skin conditions are typically managed by the practitioner's subjective assessment of severity and response to therapy. OBJECTIVE The purpose of this review is to present available evidence on the ability of OCT to image normal, chronologically aged, photoaged and photodamaged skin in human subjects. METHODS AND MATERIALS The authors have searched Medline, PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, Google Scholar, and Cochrane Library databases for published literature on the imaging of skin collagen by OCT using the following search terms: "optical coherence tomography," "OCT," "skin," "collagen," "photoaging," "wrinkles," and "photodamage." RESULTS The search resulted in 23 articles investigating OCT-based skin collagen imaging, which met their search criteria. CONCLUSION The authors anticipate tremendous growth in the field of OCT-based skin imaging that will parallel the development ultrasound technology has experienced over the past 30 years. They foresee that the use of OCT imaging to evaluate skin aging will not only help identify pathological changes earlier, but will also assist in the evaluation of the response to therapy longitudinally without biopsy.
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