Laser treatments have been used for some time to heal and improve the condition of the human skin. They can treat different scars on the skin, caused by acne, chickenpox, surgical procedures or some injuries.
Small scars usually heal on their own, after some time, but the larger scars need to be treated in some way. The most common treatments are: chemical peels, dermabrasion and of course laser therapy. Talking about the scars, we can differentiate several types of scarring on the skin. There are atrophic scars. On the skin, they look like small pits or holes and are usually caused by some severe cases of acne. Then, there are keloid scars. These scars tend to grow over the damaged area of the skin and they are usually different color than normal skin. Keloids might be red or purple, and in most cases are raised above the skin level. Another type of scars is hypertrophic scarring of the skin. These scars fade over time, although they are initially very similar to keloids.
Treating the Scars with Laser
There are some estimation that laser treatment can reduce the size and appearance of scars for about 80%. The type of scars on your skin will make the dermatologist decide upon the appropriate laser for the treatment of your particular case.
There are several lasers used to treats scarred skin, such as CO2 and YAG lasers, fractionated CO2 and YAG lasers and also pulse dye lasers.
CO2 and YAG lasers are ablative lasers, mainly used to treat acne scars. They remove the top layers of the skin, damaging the skin but curing the scars, which is why these laser demand some time for the skin to heal. Fractionated CO2 and YAG lasers are also used for the same purpose – to cure acne scarring. The difference is the localized damage they make. Instead damaging complete layer of the skin, they cause small damaged areas, and control the way your skin is healing. The bonus is no needed healing time.
Keloid and hypertrophic scars can be treated with pulse dye lasers. Sometimes, the treatment might need steroid or 5% fluorouracil (5 FU) to be added, in order to flatten the scars with the level of normal, undamaged skin. This type of laser treatment also doesn’t need healing time.
Laser treatments with non-ablative lasers usually last from 10 minutes to about an hour. In most cases, patients are given local anesthetics. They don’t need to be in the hospital and they are released quickly after the procedure. Some patients might be prescribed antibiotic cream, to prevent potential infection of the skin, while some patients need pain killers. The recovery and regeneration of the skin starts after a few days, and it depends on the type of used laser and the characteristics of your skin.
However, some patients might experience unwanted effects, like pigmentation of the skin. Your skin may get darker or lighter, especially when exposed to the sunlight.
Is It Successful for Everyone
The laser treatments of the scars are more successful on people with fair skin. Patients with darker skin can be treated for acne scars with fractionated infrared lasers, but there is nothing that could be done for their keloids or hypertrophic scars.
People with skin problems, such as psoriasis, cystic acne or dermatitis, should consult their dermatologist prior to the laser treatment.