Early postoperative single treatment ablative fractional lasing of Mohs micrographic surgery facial scars: A split-scar, evaluator-blinded study

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Despite precise surgical technique, some postoperative facial scars will depress and widen over time, likely due to weakened or inadequately replaced collagen fibers in the underlying dermis. The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether a 10,600 nm ablative carbon dioxide (CO2) fractional laser used early in the post-surgical setting results in improved postoperative facial scars after a single treatment session.

Study Design:

A prospective randomized, comparative split-scar study was conducted on 20 subjects between the ages of 20–90. Subjects underwent Mohs surgery for nonmelanoma skin cancer of the face. Subsequent to tumor removal, subjects with a linear scar of 4 cm or greater were enrolled. On the day of suture removal, all subjects had one-half of their scar randomly selected and treated with a 10,600 nm CO2 fractional laser (energy = 10 mJ; density = 10%; spot size = 7 mm; pulse = 1). The untreated scar half served as a control. Scars were re-evaluated 12 weeks later. An independent blinded observer graded the scar halves with the Vancouver scar scale (VSS) immediately prior to treatment and 12 weeks after treatment. Subjects completed a visual analog scale (VAS) at the same time points.


Three months after laser treatment, a significant decrease in VSS and 3 of the 4 of its individual parameters were detected in both control and treated halves of the scar. When comparing the laser group versus the control group, a statistically significant difference was not noted in VSS (P = 0.31) but a statistically significant difference in patient VAS was detected (P = 0.002). No side effects of the laser treatment were noted.


Facial wounds sutured in a layered manner heal well. Patients prefer early fractional CO2 lasing of surgical scars, though use of the VSS failed to detect an objective difference between laser and control halves of scars. Conservative laser settings, a single session treatment, and VSS insensitivity for surgical scars may influence these findings. Lasers Surg. Med. 47:1–5, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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