The Use of Fractional Laser Photothermolysis for the Treatment of Atrophic Scars


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BACKGROUND Patients with atrophic scars commonly seek treatment for their removal but are often concerned about the prolonged recovery, short-lived results, and/or ineffectiveness of available therapies. A novel treatment using a 1,550-nm erbium-doped fiber laser to induce fractional photothermolysis of treated skin has been used to resurface photodamaged skin but has not been studied previously in patients with atrophic scars to determine its effectiveness for this condition.

PURPOSE To determine the effectiveness and safety of 1,550-nm erbium-doped fiber laser treatment on atrophic scars.

METHODS Fifty-three patients (skin phototypes I–V) with mild to moderate atrophic facial acne scars received monthly treatment with a 1,550-nm erbium-doped fiber laser (Fraxel, Reliant Technologies Inc., San Diego, CA). Clinical response to treatment was determined at each treatment visit and 6 months after the final treatment session by two independent assessors using a quartile grading scale. Side effects and patient satisfaction were monitored at each follow-up visit.

RESULTS Clinical improvement averaged 51% to 75% in nearly 90% of patients after three monthly laser treatments. Mean improvement scores increased proportionately with each successive laser session. Clinical response rates were independent of age, gender, or skin phototype. Side effects included transient erythema and edema in most patients, but no dyspigmentation, ulceration, or scarring.

CONCLUSIONS Atrophic scars can be effectively and safely reduced with 1,550-nm erbium-doped fiber laser treatment.