Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Scar Treatments

Scar treatments keep advancing and improving.   The best treatment for your scar depends on whether the scar is thickened (hypertrophic) or thinned (atrophic) and/or discolored (pink or brown or full of blood vessels.) 

What is a keloid scar?  The term "keloid" seems to be one of the most misused words in dermatology.  A true keloid is a tumor-like growth of scar tissue that goes significantly beyond the original borders of the scar both in height and width.  True keloids are more common in darker skin types.  If a scar is just thickened but still roughly within the confines of the original wound or scar, then dermatologists prefer to call it a hypertrophic scar.

Hypertrophic scars and keloids are often treated with a steroid injection, or liquid nitrogen followed by a steroid injection.  There are some unusual, off-label (not FDA-approved) treatments for scars and keloids like 5-fluorouracil, bleomycin and interferon injections that are still considered safe by most dermatologists, especially because of the small quantities that are use for treatment.  In addition, fractionated lasers are often very helpful for both hypertrophic and atrophic scars.  All these treatments, including laser, need to be repeated multiple times for full benefit.  The number of treatments varies depending on the severity of the scar and the power of the laser.

Discolored scars can be improved with laser treatment.  For example, if the scar has redness or prominent vessels, an IPL device or pulsed-dye laser can help.  In addition, if the scar is brown, the IPL device, QS-alexandrite or fractionated 1927 nm lasers may help.

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