Mature scars with erythema benefit from fractional CO2 laser treatment

A new study conducted by a team of researchers, using a fractional CO2 laser, resulted in clinical improvement of erythema (redness of the skin).

Content Dam Bow Online Articles 2014 11 Fractionalco2

Persistent erythema (redness of the skin) is a common problem in hypertrophic and burn scars, and traditionally is treated using vascular lasers—particularly pulsed dye lasers. But a new study conducted by a team of researchers in Henry Ford Hospital's Department of Dermatology (Detroit, MI), using a fractional CO2 laser, resulted in clinical improvement of erythema. The study sought to describe the mechanism behind reduced erythema following treatment.

Related: Fractional ablative lasers minimize burn severity

"The management of hypertrophic burn scars can be quite challenging, with limited treatment options. Fractional CO2 laser appears to be a promising treatment modality for these difficult lesions, as improvement was noted to occur in the persistent erythema that has traditionally been treated with vascular lasers," states Karen L. Connolly, MD, who is also a Procedural Dermatology fellow at Weill Cornell Medical College and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (both in New York, NY), who led the work. Marsha Chaffins, MD, and David Ozog, MD, of Henry Ford worked with Connolly on the study.

Content Dam Bow Online Articles 2014 11 Fractionalco2
An erythematous hypertrophic burn scar prior to treatment with fractional CO2 laser (a), and a hypertrophic burn scar two months following three fractional CO2 laser treatments.

"The manuscript presented by Connolly et al., 'Vascular Patterns in Mature Hypertrophic Burn Scars Treated with Fractional CO2 Laser,' demonstrates two interesting and novel points," says J. Stuart Nelson, MD, Ph.D., editor in chief of the journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, which published the study. "First, an increase in vasculature is noted following treatment of mature burn scars with fractional CO2 laser. Second, while vasculature is clearly increased, clinical perception of erythema within the scars is paradoxically decreased, implying that remodeling phenomena of vessels may result in improved efficiency of blood flow following treatment."

To read the study, please visit


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