New report outlines use of fractional laser surgery for scars

Chad M. Hivnor, MD, LtCol, USAF, MC, FS, staff dermatologist for the San Antonio Military Health System, and colleagues released a new consensus report that highlights best practice for treating traumatic scars using ablative fractional laser surgery.

Ablative fractional lasers deliver tiny columns of heat to the top and deeper layers of skin, which produces a wound that heals with the help of the surrounding healthy skin tissue. Previous research showed patients noticed an immediate and significant loosening of the skin around the scar following treatment and optimal results were seen 6 to 12 months post-treatment, according to a press release.

In the new consensus, Hivnor and colleagues recommend four laser treatments to be administered every 3 to 6 months for best results. Treating scars early is preferred, as it helps remodel the skin and helps improve range of motion as scars heal. Although traditional surgery is still performed when there is tension or an underlying pulling or tightness in the scars, treating scars with the fractional laser before traditional surgery helps restore the skin, allowing the surgeon to optimize results.

In addition, performing fractional laser surgery after traditional surgery when removing sutures has produced better-than-expected results by allowing better movement in the treatment area and an improvement in the scar’s appearance, according to the release.

“People with traumatic scars often have something tangible they look forward to following treatment, such as being able to eat a double cheeseburger again if a scar has limited the range of motion of the mouth,” Hivnor stated in the release. “While we started using fractional laser surgery for wounded soldiers, this treatment also is helping civilians who may be suffering from scars due to injuries from things like dog bites, motorcycle accidents or fires. Dermatologists are making great strides in treating scars because they are experts in understanding the complexities of the skin.”

For more information:

Anderson RR. JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150:187-193.

Disclosure: The researchers have no relevant financial disclosures.

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