A recent study by burn and skin specialists from the University of Cincinnati, Shriners Hospital for Children-Cincinnati and Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital Medical Center, found that use of a pulsed-dye laser tool improves the appearance, elasticity, and texture of burn scars. During the study, researchers compared combination therapy of the pulsed-dye laser and compression compared to just compression therapy on pediatric burn patients.

The study has been published online in Dermatological Surgery.

Lead author J. Kevin Bailey, MD comments that this is the first objective data showing improvement on the condition of scars. Throughout the years, survival from severe burns has advanced rapidly. Burn specialists would rely on clinical judgment and experience to evaluate treatments, with no clearly superior method.

Bailey was not convinced simply on subjective evidence. For this particular study Bailey wanted to prove whether or not pulsed-dye laser conclusively enhanced scars based on redness, scar thickness, and elasticity.

The participants in the study were pediatric burn patients who had newly healed skin grafts. Theyhad compression therapy applied to the length of their graft – the researchers applied laser treatment to one half of their graft at 6 week intervals.

The investigators then evaluated the treated areas using 3-D laser surface scanning of topography, measuring elasticity of the scar and taking high-resolution digital photography. Using the photographs they were able to measure the number of pixels showing redness in the image. They measured the height of the scar at each new treatment using 3-D tomography.

All of these aspects showed great improvement with joint compression and laser therapy.

Being able to break down the measurements in a mathematical way allows it to have far reaching implications.

Co-author Marty Visscher, PhD says this technique cannot only be used on severe burns, but also on minor scars or burns. It can also be taught to all different specialties of physicians.

Visscher says:

“For patients with burn scars, their self-esteem and integration into society is a huge factor in their well-being and quality of life. In this case, we demonstrated a good way to determine if these treatments are working and how well they are working. It creates a framework to see if we can improve reconstruction even more for these patients.”

Written by Kelly Fitzgerald