Are scars better if you laser them during surgery?

Here’s an interesting idea:  what happens if you laser an incision right at the time of wound closure?  Does it help?  According to a tiny pilot study published in Archives of Dermatology last month, it might help the scar end up looking better.

Ten dermatology patients, who were having some skin lesions excised from their face or arms, were put into this study, where one-half of the wound was treated with a fractional CO2 laser at the time of suture repair.  The incisions were then graded at about 2-3 months post-op by having other dermatologists review the photos.  In this study, 9 out of 10 times, the laser treated side looked better to the patients and to the physicians.  One photo, which was not overwhelming to me personally, showed a slight improvement on the laser side.

So, what do we make of this study?

1)  It’s interesting, but needs to be repeated in a larger version with more patients.
2)  The  scars need to be followed for longer than 2-3 months, in order to make a judgement about things.  It may be, for example, that the laser treatment only delays the final appearance of the scar, which could show up later.
3)  Most of these incisions were on the face, where laser resurfacing treatment is better tolerated than any other area of the body.
4)  There was no division of patient results according to skin type – and we know that darker skin types have more side effects from laser resurfacing.  Is this a treatment that only works for Caucasians?

Conclusion:  Too early to say whether we’ll end up adopting this concept.  More work needs to be done first.

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