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New Laser Surgical Technique Reduces Scars

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 5:06am

Ablative fractional resurfacing (AFR) is a new laser surgery technique for resurfacing the skin, and could be a safer and more effective way to remove scars from surgery or trauma, a new study offers. Six months after treatment, women with atrophic scars showed marked improvement in texture, pigmentation, atrophy and overall appearance of their skin, according to a report published on-line in the Archives of Dermatology.

The procedure resulted in mild to moderate adverse effects and no scarring or delayed-onset hyper or hypo-pigmentation was observed, according to Elliot T. Weiss, MD, of Laser and Skin Surgery Center of New York in New York City, and colleagues. Atrophic scarring resulting from surgery or trauma is a common cosmetic problem. The depression in the skin results when dermal collagen and connective tissue production during the wound-healing process inadequately compensate for the tissue loss from the injury.

Surgeons have used a range of ablative, non-ablative, and fractional devices to stimulate collagen growth and skin resurfacing, but the effectiveness has been mixed. Although carbon dioxide lasers have been used, the technique generates significant tissue damage, requires a longer recovery period, and carries higher risks of adverse effects like bacterial infection, scarring and discoloration.

The new system combines an ablative carbon dioxide laser with fractional photothermolysis, a technique in which light energy in a unique beam pattern is used to remove narrow columns of tissue from the skin surface. “The AFR treatment avoids widespread epidermal coagulation while generating zones of tissue ablation and thermal coagulation much deeper than those seen with traditional ablative resurfacing,” states the report.

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