SAN DIEGO – , according to Victor Ross, MD.
“A lot of lip service is paid to how to inject the steroid,”, director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego, said at the annual Masters of Aesthetics Symposium. “The most important part is the amount and the fastidiousness that you have injecting. You should see the tip of the needle and be very slow. Use a 1 cc syringe.” He used to inject scars with triamcinolone acetate 40 mg/mL, but now he almost always injects 10-20 mg/mL to avoid inducing white streak-like atrophy or hypopigmentation around the treated area.
“When you treat a scar, you treat the features of the scar that make it stand out,” Dr. Ross continued. “If it’s red, you address the hyperemia. If it’s brown, you address the pigment. You want to have a reasonable pathophysiological basis for what you’re doing. Understand how the scar got there and have a reasonable algorithm.” When he counsels patients about clinical outcomes to expect, he emphasizes rehabilitation instead of blemish-free perfection. “It’s not making the scar go away,” he said. “It’s not restoring completely normal skin form and function; it’s a restorative effort to get toward normality. That’s what it’s all about.”
Besides injecting scars with triamcinolone acetate, other scar treatment options include intralesional 5-fluorouracil, oral antihistamines, COX-2 inhibitors, hydrogel sheeting, compression, acoustic wave therapy, photodynamic therapy, radiofrequency, and lasers. “I’m not a big fan of low-level light; it probably does something [to scars], but I’m skeptical,” Dr. Ross said.
In his clinical opinion, most scars respond best to treatments with ablative and nonablative fractional lasers tuned to gentle settings such as an energy level of 20 millijoules at a density of 5%-10%. “Every scar deserves a chance for laser remediation and rehabilitation,” he said. “With radiation scars you want to be particularly gentle. If you have a Mohs scar that has been subsequently treated with radiation, I would lower my settings by half, because I’ve had some scars worsen with settings for red scars after radiation therapy.”
He often uses fractional lasers for stubborn acne scarring. “The hyperemic component you can treat with a vascular laser, then come back [and treat the scarring] with a nonablative fractional laser, or you could use radiofrequency microneedling as well,” Dr. Ross said.
New or innovative scar treatments coming down the pike, he said, include the following:(applied topically, he said that this has worked well for postoperative keloids), , oral methotrexate, imiquimod (which has mixed results to date), platelet-rich plasma, and retinoids.
Dr. Ross disclosed having research and financial ties to numerous pharmaceutical and device companies.