Laser Treatment for Burns: A New Procedure to Help Kids Heal
Dec 03, 2019
Advances in care have increased the survival rate for patients with significant burn injuries, however the long-term problems of scar formation still exist. This is particularly important, as scarring can impair the mobility and range of motion of a growing child.
Hypertrophic scars are a result of a protein imbalance at the burn injury site. Traditional treatment for severe scarring consists of massage therapy and compression therapy to reduce the scar appearance.
Over the last several years, adult burn centers have used the Fractional CO2 laser to treat the complications of hypertrophic scars such as pain, itching (pruritus) and the inability to move the burn-injured area or areas of the body (functional limitations).
The procedure is performed in an outpatient operating room. The patients are placed under sedation by an experienced anesthesiologist and then the laser is used to create small holes in the scar to break up the tissue. An antibiotic dressing is applied after completion of the procedure and remains in place for two days. After two days, the dressing is removed and moisturizing cream is applied daily. In most cases, when combined with additional compression treatment, the scar can become more flexible and softer which improves movement of the scarred area
In September 2018, this new procedure was introduced to patients treated at our Burn Center. Over 30 patients have completed the treatment, which consists of at least three separate laser procedures done on separate days, each 4-8 weeks apart. Early reviews and comments from the patients and families have been very encouraging.
The Burn Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital is part of a multicenter collaborative to define best outcomes for pediatric burn patients.
This new treatment provides an additional option to traditional therapy of massage, compression and garments. The Burn Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital has also offered this treatment to patients with traumatic scars such as from ATV crashes and dog bites as well. The goal of the laser treatment program is to enhance the quality of life to those impacted by scars that limit function and mobility.
Rajan K. Thakkar, MD, is a pediatric surgeon. Dr. Thakkar is the associate trauma medical director as well as the co-director of the Burn Center. Dr. Thakkar is an assistant professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and is a principal investigator at the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences Research at the Research Institute of Nationwide Children's Hospital.
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