Treating keloid scars by combining excision and contact cryosurgery is a plausible way to decrease the volume of scars, results from a single-center observational study suggest.
“There is currently no consensus regarding the best treatment of keloid scars,” corresponding author Manon Artz, of the department of plastic, reconstructive, and aesthetic surgery at University Hospital of Brest (France), and colleagues wrote in a research letter published online in.
“Earlier studies report a decreased scar volume and a substantial reduction of recurrence in keloid scars treated by cryosurgery,” they wrote. “In this study, our objective was to assess whether intramarginal excision (shaving) of the keloid scar followed by an immediate single session of contact cryosurgery is associated with decreased scar volume.”
Between March 2014 and May 2020, the researchers evaluated the approach in 31 patients with 40 keloid scars who were treated at University Hospital of Brest. Of these study participants, four were lost to follow-up, leaving 27 patients with 35 keloid scars in the final analysis. Their mean age was 24 years, 60% were female, and there was fairly even distribution of Fitzpatrick skin types II-VI.
Most of the keloid scars were located on the ear (69%) and the chest (23%), while the rest were on the head and neck. The primary outcome was reduction of keloid scar volume after 12 months, which was measured with the Vancouver scar scale. The researchers defined 80%-100% reduction in scar volume as “major,” a 50%-80% reduction as “substantial,” and a 0%-50% reduction or recurrence as “moderate.”
After 12 months, 19 scars (54%) showed a major reduction in volume, while 6 (17%) had a substantial reduction, and seven (20%) experienced no reduction. Across all keloid scars, the median scar volume decreased significantly by 81.9%.
Scar volume reduction differed by anatomical location. Specifically, 84% of ear scars showed major or substantial reduction, while 60% of scars on the chest showed a moderate reduction in scar volume or recurrence. In another key finding, the Vancouver scar scale score was reduced overall in 25 scars by 71.4%, from 7 before treatment to 5 after treatment.
“There remains no silver bullet for the treatment of keloids, but this study adds invaluable evidence that tangential excision followed by contact cryosurgery can be a viable treatment regimen with low recurrence rates,” said Marcus G. Tan, MD, who recently completed his dermatology residency at the University of Ottawa and who was asked to comment on the study. “Clinicians should exercise caution especially when treating individuals with darker skin phototypes due to their increased risk of scarring and dyspigmentation.”
Limitations of this study, he said, include a smaller study population with some patient dropouts and a lack of adverse effects reported.
The researchers and Dr. Tan reported having no financial conflicts.