Laser Treatment of Scar Tissue

In the early 1990's it was discovered that certain types of lasers could affect scar tissue in a positive way. When the laser was used to treat overactive scars, the redness and swelling was reduced, there was less pain and sensitivity and the scar ended up smoother and softer.

The laser most useful for this process is the pulsed dye laser, also known as the green light laser. This laser produces a specific color of laser light that passes through the surface of the skin and scar as if it were clear glass, affecting the tissue beneath. When the powerful laser light contacts blood vessels inside the scar, the vessels are sealed off. Collagen inside the scar is changed by the heat effect. The end result is a softer, less painful scar that appears more like normal skin.

Dr. Galoob has been treating scars and other skin conditions using the Pulsed Dye laser for more than 20 years. He routinely uses this laser after surgical procedures and skin resurfacing to improve the healing, reduce recovery time and produce a more normal appearing and less visible scar.

Questions and Answers

How many treatments will it take?

The number of treatments will depend on the age and amount of scar tissue that is present. Early scars are more successfully treated than older scars, but both can be improved with laser treatment. The number of treatments varies with the age of the scar, its bulkiness and the area of the body. The average scar can be positively improved at least 50% with 2- 3 treatments. Redness after skin resurfacing resolves in only a few treatments.

Does the treatment hurt?

Each laser pulse causes heat when it contacts the scar tissue. This discomfort can range from a mild snapping sensation to more discomfort. Most patients tolerate treatments without any topical or local anesthesia. Dr. Galoob can provide either topical or injectible anesthetic (like the dentist) to make you comfortable during treatment. Constant cold air is applied to the skin during treatment to make you more comfortable.

Will any of the scar remain after treatment?

Scar tissue will always be present, even with laser treatment. The goal is to reduce its size and visibility so that it is hard to see without close inspection. Some patients are satisfied with fading and partial removal. Overaggressive treatments can cause worsening of scarring and undesirable result. The goal is to gradually fade the scar and allow normal healing if possible.

How often are treatments performed?

Treatments can be performed as often as every two weeks or less frequently if desired. The scar tissue continues to fade in between each treatment. This interval allows skin healing and fading to maximize before the next treatment.

What types of scars will the laser remove?

The Pulsed Dye laser is most commonly used for removing overactive scar tissue. Dr. Galoob will identify your specific type of scar and discuss the expected success rate. The Pulsed dye laser is also useful to improve scars that result from stretching (such as from pregnancy or weight loss).

Can the scar tissue come back?

Most scars do not return. However, if the body process which caused the excessive scar tissue is still active, recurrence may occur. If so, the procedure can be repeated with similar results.

What can I expect after treatment?

The laser effect on the tissue normally produces a bruise. Some sensitivity of the treated area is present for about 30 minutes. Patients normally do not have pain or other discomfort after this time. The bruising and sensitivity occurs as a result of the laser action on the deep tissues and blood vessels. This bruise will normally fade in about a week with normal appearing skin returning. The skin surface is normally not affected by the laser so crusting and blistering is rare.

What type of post-treatment care is necessary?

Most patients do not require any special care to the area since surface blistering and crusting is not common. Bruising often occurs and may last for as long as a week. A shower can be taken the same day, but avoid scrubbing the treated area. Bruised tissue exposed to the sun's ultraviolet rays will form excessive skin pigment and darkening. Therefore, it is imperative that you always wear sunscreen and avoid direct sun exposure as long as the bruising is visible. Failure to wear a protective sunscreen will allow more sun damage to occur and can result in darkened areas that may last for several months (traumatic pigmentation). Dr. Galoob will recommend the appropriate level of Sunscreen for your specific skin type.

Treatment

Special precautions are taken to protect your eyes and personnel who will be in the room. Everyone wears special glasses or eye shields. (Our practice meets the standards of the AAAHC (www.aaahc.org) for laser safety). Lasers are maintained and calibrated on a regular basis and a technician is available at all times during the procedure.

The procedure will either be performed by Dr. Galoob or one of his experienced staff. Initial laser settings are verified by Dr. Galoob prior to each treatment. It is common for him to apply a test pulse to himself as a last safety check before treatment. The laser is pulsed in multiple spots over the area for complete coverage (like turning a flashlight off and on each time). Each pulse feels like being snapped with a rubber band. Cold air is applied over the skin during the treatment to provide comfort and to protect the skin from heat produced when the laser light contacts the hair root. Afterwards, the skin may be slightly red. Occasionally irritation and blistering may occur. A soothing cream will be placed on the skin after treatment. Irritation may last for several days.

If you are interested in learning more about Pulsed Dye laser treatments for improvement of scars contact our office and we will be happy to answer your questions.