The wound-healing process begins with inflammation, moves to tissue formation, and ends with modifying specific factors in the anatomy such as collagen. Scarring occurs when the wound-healing process is disrupted by biological factors such as too much collagen or too little collagen. For example, a keloid scar is a mass of collagen.
While no scar can be removed completely, the laser scar removal technique today can reduce the appearance of keloid scars, hypertrophic scars, and atrophic scars, which have the following characteristics:
- Keloid Scarring: Firm, raised, and reddish-purple scars that extend beyond the initial wound area and build over time.
- Hypertrophic Scarring: Firm, raised, and pink scars that remain within the initial wound area and possibly naturally regress over time.
- Atrophic Scarring: Depressed pin-like pockets in the skin that can result from skin conditions or diseases such as acne.
The Laser Scar Removal Procedure
During laser scar removal treatments, the laser is moved along the scar. This vaporizes or removes a layer of skin and exposes a more natural-looking skin layer, which heals over time to minimize scar appearance.
The laser scar removal procedure is often performed under local anaesthesia in an outpatient environment. The procedure takes anywhere from a few minutes to 60 minutes.
Not everyone is a candidate for laser scar removal. People with skin disorders such as psoriasis, cystic (active) acne and dermatitis may not be ideal candidates. Those using certain medications such as isotretinoin (accutane) for acne must stop using the medication for six months prior to the procedure.
Following Laser Scar Removal
Following the laser scar removal procedure, you are often advised to wash the treated area gently with a mild soap, pat it dry and apply an antibiotic ointment and a non-stick bandage. You may also be prescribed an antibiotic to prevent infection.
Medicated creams can help the scar fade. A cool mask may also be recommended. You can take oral medication to treat any pain and discomfort. Let your practitioner know immediately if the pain is unmanageable.
Your skin’s regeneration process can begin as early as four days after treatment. Speed of regeneration depends on the type of laser used, individual skin characteristics and how well you follow your practitioner’s instructions. You can typically resume normal activities immediately after laser scar removal treatment. Your practitioner will likely suggest a return visit for evaluation of the treated area six to eight weeks after treatment.
Risks & Complications
The most common side effect of laser scar removal is hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation, both of which can be exacerbated by sun exposure. Infection or allergic reactions are also possible, and can be prevented or treated with medicated ointments, creams and oral antibiotics.