Underused ablative fractional laser resurfacing considered safe, effective for treating traumatic scars

Anderson RR. JAMA Dermatol. 2013;doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.7761.

  • December 17, 2013

Laser treatment, particularly ablative fractional laser resurfacing, is safe and effective for burn and traumatic scars and should be utilized in combination therapies, according to a consensus of laser therapy physicians.

R. Rox Anderson, MD, professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School and director of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, and seven fellow dermatology and plastic surgery physicians with expertise in using lasers for scar treatment gathered in January 2012 for an ad hoc meeting. Together, they reached a consensus “to provide a synthesis of our current clinical experience and available literature regarding the laser treatment of traumatic scars with an emphasis on fractional resurfacing.”

Rox Anderson 

R. Rox Anderson

After a manuscript and treatment algorithm were drafted, panel members reviewed the draft and commented: “Our consensus is that laser treatment, particularly ablative fractional resurfacing, deserves a prominent role in future paradigms for scar treatment.”

The report focused on laser-tissue interactions in scar management, treatment of burn and other traumatic scars (erythematosus, hypertrophic and flat/atrophic scars), when to treat scars, results, and combining laser and surgical procedures for treatment.

“This report emphasizes the routine addition of [ablative fractional laser] resurfacing to existing traumatic scar treatment paradigms,” the physicians concluded. “The unique combination of safety and efficacy of the procedure has brought new hope to millions of patients with debilitating scars.

“Although laser treatments are clearly effective, they have not yet been optimized. Prospective randomized clinical trials regarding dosimetry, the response of different types of scars in different types of patients performed at different times after skin injury, combined surgical laser and drug therapies, and the potential for preventive treatment are needed.”

Disclosure: See the study for a full list of relevant financial disclosures.

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