Treating a skin cancer wound with a fractional CO2 laser before it is closed gives patients a better cosmetic outcome, finds a new study in Archives of Dermatology.
The study found that fractional carbon laser treatment for surgical scars was effective, significantly improving the appearance of scars, reported Reuters Health. The laser procedure also allows for the scar to be treated immediately, rather than having to wait several months to have the scar resurfaced.
The study had ten patients who had Mohs surgery for skin cancers, with wounds that were from 3 to 9 centimeters long. Four of the wounds were on the face; three were on the neck; and three were on arms.
Half the wound was treated with a fractional carbon dioxide laser; the other half was not treated with the laser. The entire wound was closed with sutures, a liquid adhesive and Steri-Strips.
Nine of the ten patients said the side of the wound treated with the laser looked better than the untreated side at a two- to three-month follow-up visit. They also felt the laser-treated sides were “significantly better with regard to elevation, discoloration and erythema” (redness of the skin).
Three dermatologists who didn’t know which side of the wound had been treated with the laser reviewed photos of the scars and found the laser-treated side to be cosmetically superior in each case.
The authors are planning a multi-center study to confirm the results. “More importantly,” author Dr. David Ozog said, “we want to see if this technique will improve long-term outcomes of some of the most problematic scars such as sternotomy after cardiac surgery and large abdominal scars.”
For those without access to a doctor with a fractional laser, “dermabrasion still works, with a good safety profile,” said Dr. Kishwer S. Nehal, director of Mohs surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.