Laser Scar Removal Guide
Laser scar removal is part of our anti aging product reviews given that people can feel rejuvenated when they eliminate blemishes of any kind. For some people a scar may be unsightly, leading to desire to have it removed. Laser treatment for scars may be the answer, depending on the severity of the problem and the location. We provide an overview of laser scar removal, but of course the specific assessment you get from your healthcare provider, and specifically someone who will not be performing the procedure and therefore has no stake in your choice, is vitally important. We can only provide very general information about laser scar removal therapies. They are not for everyone because there are many different types of scars that people want removed and these procedures may not work for all types. In addition, the price and chances for side effects vary with the type of scar and procedure used. Laser scar removal may or may not be a complicated undertaking depending on many factors. We want to help you find the best scar removal treatment for you. Here is some basic information:
What Types of Scars Can laser Scar Removal ?
The type of scar you have will determine whether laser scar removal will work for you, how well it will work, and whether there are either alternative or adjunctive treatments you can use instead. Of course other factors such as how long you’ve had it, how deep it is, and where it is located, as well as your skin type and other issues will have a lot to do with things as well. Here are the types of scars and what they each mean for laser treatment for scars:
Healing Scars and laser Scar Removal
Keloid scars are the result of something healing. Whatever the original injury or procedure, these scars remain afterward. These blemishes can be so deep that they can even impeded movement, depending on where they are. Laser scar removal is an option for keloid scars as long as they are not too deep and if they are reasonably small. Other treatments beyond laser scar removal that can be helpful include surgery, steroid injections that promote healing if it is early in the formation process, or silicone or other fillers. Given that keloid scars are common in those with darker skin, and that people with darker skin can have discoloration after laser scar removal, you should definitely look into all you options with these blemishes.
Less severe injury laser scar removal
Hypertrophic scars are raised and red but stay localized where the injury or procedure happened. You will likely need to treat these blemishes medically before you have them removed, so the treatment may be a two-step process. First you might need to reduce inflammation or use silicone sheets to flatten them. Whether you can use laser scar removal will depend on how severe the scarring is and how large an area it covers, but these lemioshes may be even better candidates for laser treatment for scars because they are not as severe a keloid scars.
Laser treatment for acne scars
Acne Scars are left behind if you have acne that was deep or severe, or you had skin that was prone to this type of blemish. Acne scars are perfect candidates for laser scar removal and we will be dedicating a post in the near future to these types of blemishes.
Laser treatments for scars in general
Normal scars are left behind after a wound or procedure and are basically flat, not particularly red, and just a result of the skin being punctured deeply. Normal scars may be a perfect candidate for laser scar removal, again depending on how deep they are and how big they are, but they are often the least severe of all of these types.
The first step in pursuing laser scar removal is an assessment of the type of blemish you have, where it is, how long you’ve had it, and how deep it is.
Laser Scar Removal Process
The first step in the laser scar removal process is having a detailed and comprehensive assessment of the blemish itself. The first question that needs to be answered is whether your blemish can be effectively treated with laser therapy, since some scars are better suited for a different approach. An expert needs to assess whether this type of treatment will provide you the benefits you are looking for, and an accurate picture (in some cases where the technology is available we mean this literally) can shown of what the result will be.
The next step in the laser scar removal process is choosing the type of laser that will be used. Laser scar removal does not involve just one choice of laser, and the best fit will provide the best results. Both the cause and the severity of the blemish will be assessed, as well as the location and any underlying skin or medical issues you might have. Depending on the type of laser your laser scar removal may provide smoothing, removal, color change, or flattening. Once the practitioner has assessed that you can get a benefit from the procedure, and has chosen the right type of laser, you can be given accurate information about what to expect as far as results.
Adjunctive Scar Removal Treatments
Many times laser scar removal is done in conjunction with other cosmetic therapies. Your doctor may choose to provide injections of substances or steroids and/or the use of certain topical creams. S/he may want to use silicone to flatten a raised scar, steroids to calm inflammation, or even surgery if the scar is large and causing any secondary problems. These adjunctive treatments work to either further the effects of the primary treatment, prevent problems, or have their own independent effects. Make sure you ask your provider whether there are adjunctive approaches that might help in your case.
Laser Scar Removal FAQ
What types of scars can be treated with laser scar removal?
Laser scar treatment is most commonly used and is FDA-cleared for both scars that result from surgery and acne scars. These blemishes can be on any part of the body. As far as other types of scar, see your doctor to find our whether this type of procedure might work and if possible try to see if s/he has before and after pictures from others with similar blemishes or even better whether s/he can do some computer animation that predicts your result.
How long will my laser scar removal procedure take?
The entire procedure can be done in around 30 minutes, plus or minus depending on the size the area to be treated and how sensitive the skin is. Your doctor can tell you ahead of time whether you might need repeated procedures and how many are likely needed.
What is the recovery time for laser scar removal procedures?
You may not need any down time from work or other activities after your procedure, but some people with particularly sensitive skin may need a little time before their skin looks normal. You should ask your doctor what he or she expects will be the after effects and how long they’ll last.
Side effects of Laser Scar Removal
Generally laser scar removal is safe and well tolerated. Many people do experience some redness of the skin and minor swelling where the skin has been treated. Usually these side effects only last a few days at most, and they may not be severe enough to cause you to have to miss work or miss out on social activities. Other side effects include itching that does not resolve right away, redness that lasts longer, and some blistering. Some people experience a discoloration of this skin, though those with very light or very dark skin are less likely to experience this side effect. Bruising is also possible especially for those prone to skin bruises. Your doctor may be able to predict your likelihood of side effects given your past history of skin sensitivity, the procedure being used, and the type of scar.
A laser approach may not be the best scar removal treatment for everyone, and you will need to get a careful assessment not only of what the procedure could accomplish for your unique scar, but exactly how much that will cost and how many treatments will be needed. We are proponents in general for laser scar removal since it does work for a wide variety of people, but that does not necessarily mean it will definitely work for you. It is vitally important that you get an assessment, and in many cases an assessment from someone who does not have a vested interest in what you choose to do. Computer imaging that shows you what to expect, as well as before and after photos of others with similar presenting concerns are the best way to predict what the outcome will be. The best scar removal procedure for you will be individualized and unique.
There are also different approaches – varying types of lasers and different methods of using them – and you should be familiar with the approach your chosen practitioner is using for your laser scar removal and have them explain the positives and drawbacks of this approach. In some cases the practitioner will be able to choose among several methods that s/he has familiarity with, so you may be able to have input into the choice. And you should also be aware of any alternatives you may have to laser scar removal, including skin creams, chemical approaches, etc. In some cases a milder (and usually cheaper) approach is worth trying at first.
Here is a page from realself where doctors answer questions about the cost of laser removal of scars.
Best of luck if you choose laser scar removal!