The management of hypertrophic scars and keloids remains a therapeutic challenge. Treatment regimens are currently based on clinical experience rather than substantiated evidence. Laser therapy is an emerging minimally invasive treatment that has recently gained attention.
A meta-analysis was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of various laser therapies. The pooled response rate, pooled standardized mean difference of Vancouver Scar Scale scores, scar height, erythema, and pliability were reported.
Twenty-eight well-designed clinical trials with 919 patients were included in the meta-analysis. The overall response rate for laser therapy was 71 percent for scar prevention, 68 percent for hypertrophic scar treatment, and 72 percent for keloid treatment. The 585/595-nm pulsed-dye laser and 532-nm laser subgroups yielded the best responses among all laser systems. The pooled estimates of hypertrophic scar studies also showed that laser therapy reduced total Vancouver Scar Scale scores, scar height, and scar erythema of hypertrophic scars. Regression analyses of pulsed-dye laser therapy suggested that the optimal treatment interval is 5 to 6 weeks. In addition, the therapeutic effect of pulsed-dye laser therapy is better on patients with lower Fitzpatrick skin type scores.
This study presents the first meta-analysis to confirm the efficacy and safety of laser therapy in hypertrophic scar management. The level of evidence for laser therapy as a keloid treatment is low. Further research is required to determine the mechanism of action for different laser systems and to examine the efficacy in quantifiable parameters, such as scar erythema, scar texture, degrees of symptom relief, recurrence rates, and adverse effects.