Even though scars are part of the body's natural healing process, they can sometimes be painful, unsightly, or simply inconvenient. Laser scar removal is the treatment of scars with beams of laser light in such a way as to reduce their appearance, as well as allowing and encouraging the regrowth of healthy skin in their place. Lasers can be used to remove or reduce several types of scars, especially acne scars, which are some of the most common. In addition to reducing the appearance of scars, laser scar removal treatments can help keep scars from coming back.
Over time, most scars will diminish in appearance and become almost invisible if left alone. This does not always happen, and some types of scars even become worse over time. Keloid scarring, for example, is characterized by raised scars that are red or purple in color and extend beyond the area of the initial injury. These, rather than fading over time, gradually build up.
Hypertrophic scarring is the most common type of scarring that results from an improperly healed cut or other injury. These scars are often raised slightly above the surrounding skin, and may be slightly discolored. Smaller hypertrophic scars heal to some degree over time, but many will always be visible without scar removal. Atrophic scars are basically the opposite of hypertrophic scars, at least in terms of appearance. They are characterized by small, depressed pockets in the skin. These are commonly formed as a result of skin diseases or more common conditions like acne.
Laser scar removal can reduce or eliminate the appearance of all the above types of scars. This type of technology was first implemented in the 1980s, and uses a focused beam of high-energy light to shape or remove scars and imperfections from the skin, as directed by a doctor. The procedure can be performed while the patient is under either local or general anesthesia, and the patient is almost always able to return home on the same day. After the procedure, the recommended care of the treated area includes washing with warm water and mild soap to keep the area clean, as well as applying antibiotic ointment and a nonadhesive dressing or bandage.
Several specific types of lasers exist, each of which offers certain benefits that are suited to one type of scar removal or another. Severe scars may require more than one treatment for optimal results. The price of scar removal varies widely, from several hundred to several thousand U.S. Dollars.