What are the Pros and Cons of Keloid Scar Removal?

K.C. Bruning

The pros and cons of keloid scar removal depend on the severity of the scar and what method is used to remove it. Historically, it has been difficult to find an effective method of removing keloid scars that does not have side effects that range from unpleasant to deadly. Typical treatments include different kinds of surgery, compression garments, dressings, radiation and injections. Often patients will choose to remove keloids with the least invasive method possible, as that will reduce the risk of further scarring from the procedure itself.

Laser surgery can be used for keloid scar removal.
Laser surgery can be used for keloid scar removal.

Conventional, laser and cryosurgery have all been used to varying effects for keloid scar removal. Cryosurgery is actually a series of treatments performed over the course of several weeks. The scars are frozen with liquid nitrogen, which does remove the tissue, but it also lightens the color of the skin at the treatment site. Conventional and laser surgery can both be used for keloid scar removal, though the results are often not permanent. In several cases, the scars return after the procedure.

Surgery for keloid scar removal is more effective when used in conjunction with radiation treatment.
Surgery for keloid scar removal is more effective when used in conjunction with radiation treatment.

Surgery for keloid scar removal can be more effective if used in combination with radiation treatment. If it is administered right after surgery, while the wound is still healing, radiation can help to prevent the return of keloid scars. The primary drawback of this treatment is that it also dramatically increases the patient’s risk of getting cancer.

Steroid injections can help with keloid scar tissue.
Steroid injections can help with keloid scar tissue.

There are also less risky and invasive methods of keloid scar removal, such as the application of dressings and compression. These treatments take time and are more likely to reduce the size of the scar than to make it disappear entirely. Dressings are moist silicon gel sheets that offer a pain-free and relatively comfortable way to at least reduce the scars. Compression from tape or bandages can also help to reduce a keloid scar. It can take from six months to a year of continuous pressure for this method to produce lasting results.

Creams or gels can also be used to reduce the size of larger keloid scars. A typical preparation has silicone as an active ingredient, which works to flatten the scar over time. These products can also help to soothe redness and roughness around the scar site.

Steroid injections are another method used for keloid scar removal. These are usually administered over the course of several months, at intervals of approximately a month to six weeks. Though they are effective in reducing the discomfort and size of the scars, the injections can be extremely uncomfortable.

Compression garments can be a safer way of removing keloid scars.
Compression garments can be a safer way of removing keloid scars.

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Discussion Comments

bear78

@ZipLine-- Please try natural treatments, topical medications and compression before scar removal surgery.

I'm getting fairly good results with a combination of treatments like vitamin E oil and compression. I have also tried steroids which improved the size and appearance of my keloid. Of course these treatments take time. Like the article said, it takes months and it requires patience. But I think it's worth it because there are little to no side effects.

literally45

@ZipLine-- Unfortunately, the chances of the keloid coming back is very high. When you have a keloid, it means that your skin is predisposed to developing scar tissue upon injury. Keloid removal surgery is another injury to your skin and without the radiation, I'm sure that you'll get another keloid.

I don't think that keloid surgery is a good treatment. It should be your last resort and even then, I would try to avoid it. It will probably just exacerbate the problem. Have you tried other treatments like laser scar removal? I think these are safer than surgery but talk to your doctor about all the options before deciding.

ZipLine

I certainly don't want to increase my chances of getting cancer by being exposed to radiation after keloid surgery. But is the surgery worth it without the radiation? What are the chances of the keloid scarring coming back?

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