On the inside of my left hand is a thick oval scar – a result of a procedure performed more than a decade ago to remove a melanoma. I’m thankful that the skin cancer appeared on my palm, where the scar is largely concealed, rather than on a more exposed area. Many others are forced to face the public with far extensive scarring that can be unsightly and, in certain cases, make movements difficult or painful.
But a device invented by School of Medicine researchers has demonstrated in a small clinical trial that it can help decrease the size of existing scars when used after scar-revision surgery. In a story published today in Inside Stanford Medicine, my colleague Christopher Vaughan explains the research, writing:
Currently, scar revision surgery does not work very well. Scars are cut out, the edges of the incision are closed, and surgeons work to make the new scar less obtrusive than the old one. But the revision surgery using current methods doesn’t work very well, [senior author of the study Michael Longaker, MD,] said. “Most of the time, after a year the patient feels that the scar is just as bad as it ever was,” he says.
In this clinical trial, surgeons cut out old scars on each of 10 patients and then placed the scar-reduction device over half of the incision; the other half they closed using traditional methods. After the study, patients were offered the chance to have the traditionally revised section of the scar closed using either of the two methods so that the two sides matched.
Six months after surgery, photos of the two halves of the scar were compared by four independent surgeons who did not know which sides of the scars had been treated with the device. Using a visual scoring system, the judges determined that the scar on the side treated with the scar-reduction device was significantly smaller. “It was pretty obvious,” Longaker said. “It was not even subtle.”
Previously: Stanford researchers reveal how mechanical forces contribute to scarring and In scar wars, a new hope
Photo by DrSam