Conventionally, dermatologists used to use excision, punch grafts, dermabrasion and chemical peels as treatments of acne scars, but the results of these procedures were unsatisfactory. Over the past years, dermatologists worked with laser technology which brought some amazing results in the treatment of acne scars.
Acne Scar Laser Treatment Options
1. Pulsed Dye Lasers:
In the late 1980s, experiments using pulsed dye lasers led by Dr. Alster were initiated on thickened scars. The pulse dye laser was reported to be providing prolonged improvement in the appearance of most scars. After one or two pulsed dye laser treatments, a 57% to 83% improvement was observed. Facial acne scars were very responsive to this treatment.
The pulsed dye laser procedure is typically performed on local anesthesia, which is usually administered with a topical anesthetic cream, injections within scars or nerve blocks. Next, non-overlapping laser pulses are delivered over the scars. The immediate result may produce a purplish coloring. The treated scars are then evaluated 6-8 weeks later, where another treatment, at the same or slightly higher strength may be necessary.
Pulsed dye lasers are now the preferred treatment for red or thick scars.
2. Carbon Dioxide Laser Resurfacing:
Carbon dioxide laser resurfacing is most favorable to Atrophic acne scars. The number of treatments necessary depends on the severity of scar and each individual’s collagen and wound healing response. Usually two or more treatments are needed for hyper-atrophic (thick) acne scars.
Local, regional nerve block or intravenous sedation may be required for CO2 laser resurfacing of atrophic acne scars depending on the degree of damage. Follow-up examinations and skin cleanings are scheduled often during the first postoperative week and patients are encouraged to keep the area moistened with healing ointments and/or cooled compresses. Early evaluation and intervention are important in order to prevent long-term scarring.
Research has shown that combining the use of the pulsed dye technology with carbon dioxide laser vaporization provides improvement in non-reddened, minimally thickened scars.
Carbon dioxide laser resurfacing for atrophic scars is now surpassing the results obtained from dermabrasion and chemical peels. Future laser technologic advances coupled with other treatments may even further enhance clinical results.
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