Skin Health: Laser Treatment Improves Appearance of Scars in Pediatric Burn Patients

AUGUST 17, 2012

New technology offers burn patients a laser option for scar treatment, researchers find that hemangioma can be treated sooner in infants, and a study shows that eczema is linked to maternal butylbenzyl phthalate exposure.

A study published in the journal Dermatologic Surgery examining pediatric patients undergoing burn scar reconstruction found that the use of a pulsed-dye laser tool improves the appearance, texture, and elasticity of burn scars.

Multiple treatment options are available for scar management, but there is no established preferred method of treatment. Investigators of this study, in collaboration with the University of Cincinnati (UC), Shriners Hospitals for Children-Cincinnati, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, looked at children with newly healed skin grafts who had started compression therapy across the length of their grafts. They applied laser treatment to half of each patient’s graft seams at 6-week intervals to determine whether compression alone or compression with laser treatment was superior.

Using high-resolution digital photographs to measure redness of the scars, 3D tomography to assess the structural changes on the surface of the skin, and other tools to evaluate elasticity, the investigators determined that each aspect of skin health showed improvement with combined compression and laser therapy. Based on the Vancouver Scar Scale scores, the combination therapy reduced quantitative scar erythema and height, contributed to greater tissue elasticity, and improved vascularity, pliability, and pigmentation of skin better than compression therapy alone.

Lead author and UC burn surgery researcher J. Kevin Bailey, MD, says it’s the first time the laser has been shown to improve the condition of scars.

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