Hypertrophic scars and keloids: etiology and management

Tina S Alster, Elizabeth L Tanzi
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology 2003, 4 (4): 235-43
Keloid and hypertrophic scars have affected patients and frustrated physicians for centuries. Keloid and hypertrophic scars result from excessive collagen deposition, the cause of which remains elusive. Clinically, these scars can be disfiguring functionally, aesthetically, or both. A thorough understanding of the pathophysiology and clinical nature of the scar can help define the most appropriate treatment strategy. Although many articles have been published on the management of hypertrophic and keloid scars, there is no universally accepted treatment protocol. Prevention of keloid and hypertrophic scars remains the best strategy; therefore, those patients with a predisposition to develop excessive scar formation should avoid nonessential surgery. Once a scar is present, there are many treatments from which to choose. Hypertrophic scars and keloids have been shown to respond to radiation, pressure therapy, cryotherapy, intralesional injections of corticosteroid, interferon and fluorouracil, topical silicone or other dressings, and pulsed-dye laser treatment. Simple surgical excision is usually followed by recurrence unless adjunct therapies are employed. Biologic agents that are directed towards the aberrant collagen proliferation that characterizes keloid and hypertrophic scars might be an important addition to the current armamentarium of modalities in the near future.

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