Can scars be removed by laser?

Lasers cannot remove scars, but they can make them appear less noticeable.
Lasers cannot remove scars, but they can make them appear less noticeable.

You cannot get rid of a scar with laser treatment. However, laser treatment can make a scar less noticeable. Laser treatment for a scar can be considered as an approach to replace one scar with a less visible scar. The treatment involves using a focused light (laser) to either remove the outer layer of skin or stimulate the production of new skin cells to cover the scarred or damaged skin cells.

The procedure has become a crucial part of scar management by dermatologists. Through laser treatment your doctor can

  • Prevent raised scar or keloid formation after surgery
  • Decrease pain and itching due to a scar
  • Increase the range of motion if a scar limits movement

The results of laser scar treatment mainly depend on the skills of the person performing the treatment. You must consult a board-certified dermatologist to get the best results. You may need more than just the laser treatment to manage your scars. For example, if you have a deep acne scar, your doctor may perform laser therapy followed by injecting a filler.

Laser treatment can be used for

How soon can you see the results of laser scar removal?

The results of laser treatment can take months to appear. There may be little noticeable improvement at first. Your dermatologist may provide a series of laser treatments to give you the best outcome and the longest lasting improvement. This is usually needed when a nonablative laser (a laser that works by heating the targeted tissue without destroying it) is used. Nonablative lasers are not associated with downtime, but a few treatments are needed to see the desired results. To get the best results after the treatment, you must follow your dermatologist's instructions.

What are the side effects of laser scar removal?

Laser scar removal is a considerably safe procedure when performed by an expert. There may be some side effects of the procedure such as

What is the best procedure for scar removal?

The best treatment option for your scar depends on several factors, such as the type and severity of the scar. You must get a consultation from a board-certified dermatologist to know which treatment option will work best for you.

  • If your scars are not severe, your doctor may suggest milder treatment options, such as a chemical peel or microdermabrasion.
  • If the scars are deep or severe, your doctor may recommend
    • Laser resurfacing: This cosmetic procedure acts by removing the superficial layers of the skin resulting in the formation of new collagen fibers that render healthier, firmer and tighter skin. The procedure can be done at the doctor’s office. Laser resurfacing may take a few minutes to an hour.
    • Dermabrasion: This procedure involves a rotating wire brush or spinning diamond instrument to remove the superficial layer of the skin. The skin then heals in its due course to reveal healthier skin.
    • Fractional laser therapy: This works at a deeper level than dermabrasion and laser resurfacing. Healing time is shorter with this procedure because it does not wound the top layer of tissue. The treated skin may just look a bit sunburned for a few days.

With certain deep scars, such as rolling scars (scars with a gradual dip or depression), your doctor may inject material under the scar (filler) to raise it to the normal skin level before going for laser therapy. In some cases of deep scars, surgery may be recommended.


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Medically Reviewed on 10/13/2020
Medscape Medical Reference

American Academy of Dermatology