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.
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 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.
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.