Laser Treatment for Scars
Laser therapy for scars has come a long way from a decade ago and has really advanced with the use of fractioned ablative lasers. Fractional laser can help reduce the thickness of the scar, reduce the redness, and even start to blend the scarred skin together with your normal skin. Over a course of treatments dramatic results can be achieved.
I will typically start with Fractional Laser to treat scars when a laser is recommended. It is a quick and easy procedure. The patient will have a numbing medication applied to the scar for about 30 minutes prior to the treatment. The treatment causes little to no pain and is done in about 10 minutes. There will be some pinpoint bleeding, which is expected and will typically resolve within 24 hours. Post care is simple and includes the use of Aquaphor or similar product for about 48-72 hours. Repeat treatments are typically every 4 to 6 weeks. We can keep the cost of the procedure down because we are treating small areas and the cost is usually within the reach of most patients to be able to complete multiple sessions.
I find the best outcomes tend to be with a “all hands-on deck” approach. This may include treating with Fractional Laser and then utilizing Silicone Gel at home between treatments. Scars do not change overnight, but as the weeks and months go by the improvement is exciting to watch.
Steroid Injections (Kenalog, Triamcinolone) for Scars
Itchy and painful scars post-surgery, skin biopsy or trauma can occur. We have even seen scars develop post ear-piercing and with severe acne patients. Depending on the extent of the scar they are called hypertrophic scars or keloid scars. These scars tend to be raised, red or pink, and sometimes tender or itchy to the touch. These are more commonly associated with patients that have darkly pigmented skin, but any skin type can get a hypertrophic or keloid scar.
A steroid injection with Kenalog is quick and easy. They do not require any numbing medicine prior to the procedure and the pain level is minimal. Most commonly, more than one treatment will be required. It is safe to have an injection every 4-6 weeks and typically no more than 5 treatment sessions in total. There are potential side effects such as dilated blood vessels appearing in the scar, thinning of the skin, as well as an indentation left behind where the scar was treated.
Silicone (gel and sheeting)
A favorite therapy of mine for the reduction of red and raised scars is silicone gel. Silicone has been studied numerous times for reduction of scars and is considered safe and effective. Typically, treatment will take a few months, but in the end it is worth it. There are even silicone gels that include a built-in sunscreen that is a perfect combination for scars on the scalp, face, or any sun exposed area. We carry a specific brand of silicone called Silagen, which is the only medical grade silicone product on the market. Sometimes, I will even recommend silicone sheeting in place or in conjunction with the gel. The sheeting will stay on the skin for hours at a time. Eventually, your skin will adjust to the sheeting and you can wear it for upwards of 24 hours a day.
I have seen many patients over the years that have acne scars. This could be a 21 year old female in college or even a 55 year old male that wants to improve the look of his scars years later. My favorite treatment for scars is either Fractional Laser or our Hybrid Fractional Laser called Halo. Depending on the extent of the scarring, I will sometimes recommend both types of laser. If your acne is under control or resolved, then laser is a great option to treat the scarring that is left behind. Typically, multiple sessions are needed for the very best results.