Consensus Report Touts Lasers for Scar Treatment

BOSTON – Patients with disfiguring and debilitating scars suffer poor cosmetic outcomes, restricted motion, pain and itching, despite traditional therapy such as expert wound care.

A consensus report published earlier this year in JAMA Dermatology discusses a breakthrough within the past decade in the treatment of traumatic scars and the restoration of function and cosmetic appearance for injured patients, ablative fractional photothermolysis. The study group, led by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital Boston and including representatives from Lackland Air Force Base, TX, and the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, lamented, however, that the procedure is not widely used.1

To provide a synthesis of current clinical experience and available literature regarding the laser treatment of traumatic scars with an emphasis on fractional resurfacing, eight independent, self-selected academic and military dermatology and plastic surgery physicians with extensive experience in the use of lasers for scar treatment assembled for a two-day ad hoc meeting in January 2012, according to the article, which noted that “consensus was based largely on expert opinion, but relevant literature was cited where it exists.”

“Our consensus is that laser treatment, particularly ablative fractional resurfacing, deserves a prominent role in future scar treatment paradigms, with the possible inclusion of early intervention for contracture avoidance and assistance with wound healing,” the authors wrote.

“Laser scar therapy, particularly fractional ablative laser resurfacing, represents a promising and vastly underused tool in the multidisciplinary treatment of traumatic scars,” they added. “Changes to existing scar treatment paradigms should include extensive integration of fractional resurfacing and other combination therapies guided by future research.”

1 Anderson RR, Donelan MB, Hivnor C, Greeson E, Ross EV, Shumaker PR, Uebelhoer NS, Waibel JS. Laser treatment of traumatic scars with an emphasis on ablative fractional laser resurfacing: consensus report. JAMA Dermatol. 2014 Feb;150(2):187-93. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.7761. PubMed PMID: 24336931.

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