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Background The optimal time frame to improve the quality and cosmetic appearance of scars by laser therapy has not been clearly elucidated by prior controlled clinical trials.

Objective To determine the efficacy of the 585-nm pulsed dye laser (PDL) in the treatment of surgical scars starting on the day of suture removal.

Methods Eleven patients (skin types I–IV) with 12 postoperative linear scars that were greater than 2 cm were treated three times on monthly intervals with the 585-nm PDL (450 μs, 10-mm spot size, 3.5 J/cm2 with 10% overlap) on one scar half, whereas the other half received no treatment. Scars were later evaluated by a blinded examiner using the Vancouver Scar Scale (VSS) for pigmentation, vascularity, pliability, and height. Scars were then blindly examined for cosmetic appearance using a visual analog scale.

Results One month after the last treatment, final scar analysis by the blinded examiner revealed a significant difference between treated and untreated sites, with the treated halves scoring better in all scar parameters in the VSS and in cosmetic appearance. The treated halves demonstrated an overall average improvement in the VSS between the first treatment score and the final score of 54% versus 10% in the controls (P=0.0002). The cosmetic appearance score (0=worst; 10=best) at final assessment was significantly better for the treated scars, scoring 7.3 versus the averaged control score of 5.2 (P=0.016).

Conclusion The 585-nm PDL is effective and safe in improving the quality and cosmetic appearance of surgical scars in skin types I–IV starting on the day of suture removal.