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Laser treatment of facial scars

Carniol, Paul J.a; Meshkov, Laurenb; Grunebaum, Lisa D.c

Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head & Neck Surgery:
doi: 10.1097/MOO.0b013e32834896b9
Facial plastic surgery: Edited by Julian M. Rowe-Jones

Purpose of review: Facial scars can develop as a result of trauma, surgery, burns, acne, or other conditions. These scars are often quite distressing to patients. Lasers were first used to treat these scars in the 1990s. Recently, new laser technology has been used to prevent and treat scars. This literature review and the report of the senior author's recent experience summarize the recent advances in laser treatment of scars.

Recent findings: With the development of new laser technology, the treatment options for hypotrophic scars and developing scars have increased. Furthermore, there are expanded options for treatment of established hypertrophic scars. Recent studies have shown that nonablative and fractionated lasers can be effective for treating hypotrophic and developing scars. Scar improvements may be due to direct effects of the laser and/or histochemical effects, including production of heat shock proteins and tumor growth factors. Nonablative and fractionated lasers have a shorter recovery period than CO2 resurfacing lasers. This can vary from a few hours to up to 7 days.

Summary: Recent new laser technology has increased the options for treatment of scars. These have been shown to be beneficial for hypotrophic, incipient, and established scars. The benefits of laser therapy may be due to direct and/or histochemical effects.

Author Information

aDepartment of Otolaryngology, New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey

bUniversity of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Florida

cDepartment of Otolaryngology, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Florida, USA

Correspondence to Paul J. Carniol, MD, FACS, 33 Overlook Road, Suite 401, Summit, NJ 07901, USATel: +1 908 598 1400; fax: +1 908 598 0777; e-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.