Answers to Your Questions About Treatments for Scars and Burns

CHANDRA: The progress depends on the scar. Everyone's scar is different. So far, we have seen that the texture of our skin is a lot smoother and flatter, as well as the coloring is more uniformed.

ANSWERS FROM DR. JILL WAIBEL:

Please be advised this is general information and patients should seek a consultation with a physician for specific recommendations on their condition.

JOYCE, New Bern, N.C.: We are adopting a 5-year-old boy from Taiwan. He was burned very bad on his upper body and his stomach. At what age should we think about trying laser treatment to reduce the scarring?

WAIBEL: Congratulations on the adoption of your son. Every child differs at the time they are able to tolerate different medical procedures. There are many types of lasers which may be used on scars. Factors to take into account include the procedure and the child's ability to cope with pain. I would recommend that you find a pediatric dermatologist or dermatologist laser expert for consultation and treatment recommendations.

SONIA, Miami: I am a 24-year-old burn survivor. I was burned when was 18 months old, in a house fire in Honduras. Does the outcome of the laser surgery have a difference based on the skin pigment?

WAIBEL: People with skin of color are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. We have lasers to treat all skin types, but not all lasers are safe on darker skin. I recommend you have a consultation with a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon with extensive laser experience to determine the best treatment for your burn scars.

LEE, San Diego: My youngest sister has third degree burns on her lower body in a kitchen accident. My question is how late is it to remove the scars? She is 36 years old now.

WAIBEL: Burn scars evolve over a period of one to two years. Burn scars typically tend to worsen with hypertrophy and contracture. Usually by the end of two years, the scar tissue has matured, resulting in the final scar. We still need to do clinical trials to determine the optimal time to treat a scar but we have treated scars over 50 years old with improvement. Your sister should get a consultation with a laser expert for specific recommendations.

COURTNEY, Brockport, N.Y.: What would you suggest for an adult suffering from acne? Could laser treatment help?

WAIBEL: Go see your local board certified dermatologist! We have wonderful treatment options for active acne. Laser treatments do exist which treat acne, although we also have wonderful medications to help with acne. Every medical procedure and medication comes with risks and benefits that need to be discussed in consultation with a dermatologist.

ANNE-MARIE, Martinsville, Ind.: Are there any other places that perform this therapy? What kind of results do you typically get and does this help with issues such as webbing between the fingers?

WAIBEL: The laser we used on the triplets is the Lumenis Ultrapulse laser. Many board certified plastic surgeon and dermatology laser experts perform this therapy. I would recommend you go to the Lumenis Web site for referrals of laser experts near your home. The webbing of the fingers is often treated surgically and there are expert burn reconstructive surgeons who dedicate their surgical careers to helping burn patients.

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