Laser/Light Therapy for Scars

Laser/light therapy is a non-ablative treatment option that uses an intense but gentle beam of light to treat scars without damaging surrounding tissue.

treatment to burn scars on back

Before (left) and after (right) pulsed dye laser and fractionated ablative CO2 laser treatment to burn scars on the back.

Photo courtesy of Jill S. Waibel, MD - Miami, FL

Why choose laser/light therapy for scars

Laser/light therapy offers a non-invasive method of improving the appearance of scars by blending pigmentation with that of surrounding healthy tissue and stimulating collagen production.

What you should know about laser/light therapy for scars

The procedure offers a non-invasive method of improving the appearance of scar tissue with minimal recovery time.

treatment to burn scars on face

Before (left) and after (right) non-ablative fractionated laser treatments for acne scars on the right cheek.

Photo courtesy of Tracy M. Katz, MD - Houston, Texas

Possible risks

As with any treatment, there are risks associated with it, though they are minimized in the hands of a qualified ASDS dermatologist. These include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Discoloration
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Crusting

What to expect after the procedure

Patients may not see any significant changes until several weeks after the surgery. Other post-procedure issues include:  

  • Treated area may be pink or red for four to eight hours after treatment.
  • A slight stinging sensation, similar to a mild sunburn in the treated area. This sensation usually subsides within four to six hours. Cool packs or moist cloths may be applied to reduce the sensation.
  • Mild swelling in the treatment area that usually dissipates within several days.

In addition, patients should:

  • Avoid applying makeup or lotion to the treated area for either 24 hours or until all signs of redness and stinging have dissipated.
  • Apply a good moisturizing lotion to the treated area twice daily for the duration of the treatments and for at least three months after final treatment.

How to prepare for the procedure

Before the procedure, an ASDS dermatologist will usually review the patient’s medical history and conduct a physical exam. This is the time for the doctor and patient to discuss expectations, potential risks and outcomes of the procedure. Patients also should:

  • Avoid sunbathing, tanning beds, waxing, chemical peels or collagen injections for two weeks prior to the procedure.
  • Avoid perfumes, deodorants or any potential irritants in the treatment area before and after treatment.
  • Avoid aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements due to increased risk of bleeding.