Keloid Treatment Options
Keloid Treatment Options
What are keloids?
Keloids are a type of raised scar. They occur where the skin has healed after an injury. They can grow to be much larger than the original injury that caused the scar. They are not at all common, but are more likely for people who have dark skin.
Anything that can cause a scar can cause a keloid. This includes being burned, cut, or having severe acne. Keloids can also develop after you get a body piercing, a tattoo, or have surgery. Keloids sometimes show up 3 months or more after your skin is injured. Some continue to grow for years.
- Wound care. For newer keloids, the first treatment option might be compression dressings made from stretchy fabric or other materials. This method is also used after surgery to remove keloids. The goal is to reduce or prevent a scar by putting pressure on the wound as it heals. Such dressings need to be worn for 12 to 24 hours a day for 4 to 6 months to be effective. This method can be very uncomfortable.
- Corticosteroid cream. Applying a prescription strength corticosteroid cream can help ease itchiness.
- Injected medicine. If you have a smaller keloid, your doctor might try reducing its thickness by injecting it with cortisone or other steroids. You'll likely need monthly injections for up to six months before seeing the scar flatten. Possible side effects of corticosteroid injections are skin thinning, spider veins and a permanent change in skin color (hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation).
- Freezing the scar. Small keloids might be reduced or removed by freezing them with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy). Repeat treatments might be needed. Possible side effects of cryotherapy are blistering, pain and loss of skin color (hypopigmentation).
- Laser treatment. Larger keloids can be flattened by pulsed-dye laser sessions. This method has also been useful in easing itchiness and causing keloids to fade. Pulsed-dye laser therapy is delivered over several sessions with 4 to 8 weeks between sessions. Your doctor might recommend combining laser therapy with cortisone injections. Possible side effects, which are more common in people with darker skin, include hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation, blistering and crusting.
- Radiation therapy. Low-level X-ray radiation alone or after surgical removal of a keloid can help shrink or minimize the scar tissue. Repeat treatments might be needed. Possible side effects of radiation therapy are skin complications and, in the long term, cancer.
- Surgical removal. If your keloid hasn't responded to other therapies, your doctor might recommend removing it with surgery in combination with other methods. Surgery alone has a recurrence rate of 45% to 100%.
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Do you give 100% guarantee?
No doctor can give 100% guarantee that the treatment or surgery would be beneficial for the patient. For that matter, no guarantee is given by any doctor or surgeon that the patient would be "cured".
Anyone considering a cosmetic procedure should ensure they are informed enough to understand the limitations and risks of any procedure. Remember, no procedure is 100% risk free and no surgeon can give a 100% guarantee of the results.
The only assurance which a doctor can give or can be understood to have given by implication is that he is possessed of the requisite skill in that branch of profession which he is practicing and while undertaking the performance of the task entrusted to him he would be exercising his skill with reasonable competence.
Unless the circumstances are exceptional, it is advisable to avoid surgery if you have recently experienced major life events such as moving house, changing job, losing a loved one, the break-up of a relationship or the arrival of children. Undergoing cosmetic surgery results in emotional changes as well as physical ones, so it’s wise to choose a time when there aren’t other stressful events going on in your life.
How many sessions do I require?
The healthier your skin/hair are when starting out, the easier it will take the treatment. The sessions must be spaced to allow adequate healing in between. Skin/Hair that are healthy enough to regenerate fairly quickly will be able to endure more sessions of a treatment in a shorter period of time.
While these aren’t the only factors involved, they are the most common. Don’t be surprised, however, if your doctor mentions another situation that could impact the length and/or number of sessions you may require. Every person is different, and your circumstances will be unique only to YOU.