Noninvasive blood flow characterization is essential to assess the health status of biological tissue and to evaluate the efficacy of therapies which target the microvasculature. Optimization of laser therapy for disfiguring vascular birthmarks is one specific clinical application. Current treatment protocols involve the use of high-power pulsed laser irradiation with parameters selected to induce selective photocoagulation of the targeted blood vessels. Protocol design is based largely on results from numerical modeling studies, which have predictive capability of the laser light distribution within the skin and subsequent photothermal response leading towards selective photocoagulation. However, the biological response of the microvasculature to therapeutic laser intervention remains a poorly-researched field. We hypothesize that the acute photothermal response of the microvasculature is a poor predictor of the chronic response, due to vascular remodeling processes which are not included in current modeling studies. To test this hypothesis, we employ an optical imaging method to assess blood flow dynamics in response to therapeutic intervention.

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