Burn scars occur when thermal injury damages the upper skin layer. In some cases, deep burns also affect the lower layer of skin. Burns that only affect the outer layers of the skin heals with pigmentation changes. When the dermal layers of the skin are damaged, the underlying skin heals up with a thick layer of scar tissue. Early treatment speed up the recovery of burnt skin.
- Burns that affect the upper layer of skin heals with pigmentation changes
- Early treatment can prevent long term scarring
- Thick burn scars are best treated with silicone, compression & lasers
- Cutis Dermatology has the best CO2 laser for burns; the Ultrapulse laser
- Vascular lasers are used to treat red burns scars
- Pico lasers are used to treat dark burn scars
Burn Scar Treatments at a glance
Our results speak for themselves
For severe burns, dermatologists will work with plastic surgeons in hospitals to improve the quality of tissue & to improve range of motion.
In private practice we also treat first, second- & third-degree burns using lasers. These lasers include-
- Vascular lasers for hypertrophic & keloid burn scar tissue
- Pico lasers for pigment & post inflammatory skin darkening
Special CO2 lasers to soften skin & improve skin quality
Darkening of the skin after a burn is common- especially if you have dark skin. The use of SPF during the weeks following a burn will markedly reduce the incidence of PIH (pigmentation). For established pigment we use pico lasers to fade pigmentation.
- 2-5 treatments
- We use both Picoway & Picosure Pro
- Intervals 3-8 weeks apart
- No recovery time with pigment lasers
The biggest traction you will get is to use sunscreen regularly following any type of burn. Apply to the affected area once the burn has healed. Use twice a day for the next 2-4 months.
Vascular lasers are also used to treat burns that are red in colour. You will require 2-6 sessions over 2-6 months.
Early treatment of a burn will reduce the risk & severity of any scarring. For minor first-degree burns, soak the damaged skin in cool water for 3-6 minutes. This can reduce blister formation. Dress with an emollient such as Vaseline. It is vitally important that you keep the area free from any UV exposure for the next month- especially if you have dark skin.
For more extensive burns, you will require medical intervention to reduce the chances of infection.
The use of silicone can improve healing times & reduce redness, pigment changes as well as reducing the probability of hypertrophic or keloid scars. Our preference is Strataderm silicone. It is available from most pharmacies. Use it daily for 3-6 months following a burn.
The Ultrapulse CO2 laser is the gold standard for the treatment of severe burns. It has the power to penetrate to the lower dermal layers of scar tissue. The aim of laser is to –
- Reduce the thickness of scar tissue
- Improve symptoms such as pain & itch
- Improve the range of motion
- Improve the color & quality of burn tissue
Lasers can markedly improve skin burns. For thick burn scars we use a CO2 laser. For red burn scars we employ vascular lasers. For pigmented skin burns we use a picosecond laser. Treatments are fast, safe & affordable.
Patients will benefit from 6 to 12 sessions of laser over the course of 1-2 years. The reason for this is that scar tissue lacks the regenerative capacity to remodel as there is a marked decrease in hair follicles. These follicles provide the regenerative capacity to heal.
Burns are classified depending on the level of thermal injury.
- First-degree burns damage the upper layer of skin known as the epidermis. This superficial burn heals within one week. Pigment changes are seen in darker skin types.
- Second-degree burns affect both the upper & lower areas of skin. These burns may take 12 to 24 days to heal and are more likely to scar.
Third-degree burns are the most severe as it involves the top two layers of skin & lower tissue. These types of burns can take a long time to heal and are likely to produce a scar. Nerves are often damaged and hence patients will report altered sensation in the burn scars.
This type of skin burns is best treated in hospital as an outpatient. For milder burns, the following can be helpful
- Compression. Pressure to the affected area is gold standard; ideally worn 24 hours for 3-12 months.
- Silicone as adjunctive therapy.
- Surgery for contractures, a person may require surgery to release these and enable movement.
- Physiotherapy & occupational therapy to mobilize the affected areas. This reduces the formation of contractures.
- Lasers to reduce redness & improve scar quality & pliability.
Believe it or not Medicare does not pay for treatments. We reduce the costs for patients by offering a dermatology led, nurse treatment protocol. As a guide-
- Vascular laser (red burns): $290 – $690 depending on area.
- PIH (brown burns): $290 – $590 depending on the area.
- Thick burns (keloid or hypertrophic): $390 – $890 depending on the area.
You will require an appointment with our clinical staff at Cutis Dermatology, Brisbane. For red or dark scars (post inflammatory pigmentation), you are best seen by our nurses. They have extensive experience in managing these types of skin burns.
For complex burns, including full thickness burns with hypertrophic or keloid scarring, a dermatologist can help.