Wound healing in adult human skin results in varying degrees of scar formation, ranging clinically from fine asymptomatic scars to problematic hypertrophic and keloid scars, which may limit function and restrict further growth. At present, no good objective method of clinically assessing scars exists, which is problematic for the evaluation of scar prevention or treatment regimens. Similarly lacking are histologic correlates of what we consider good and bad clinical scars.
The objective of this study was to quantitatively assess human scarring (1) clinically, by developing a comprehensive rating scale, (2) photographically, using an image capture system and a scar assessment panel, and (3) by histologic analysis following scar excision.
We assessed 69 scars, with a wide clinical range of severity, in patients who were undergoing surgery, for whatever reason, that involved removal of an old scar. Preoperatively, patients had their scars assessed, clinically using our newly developed scale and photographically using a computerized image capture system. These photographs were then sent to a panel for assessment using similar criteria to those used clinically. Assessment of scars from photographs correlated well with the clinical scar evaluation, indicating its potential utility in multicenter scar prevention/treatment trials. Following excision, scars were processed and analyzed for histology.
We also found a strong correlation between the macroscopic and microscopic appearance of scars, particularly between the clinical appearance and histologic scores of features in the epidermis and papillary dermis. This suggests that our clinical scale is a sensitive instrument in scar assessment, allowing validated quantification of the severity of a wide range of scars. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 102: 1954, 1998.)