When the skin suffers a burn, trauma, or surgery, a scar forms as a normal part of healing. Some scars may be large, red, and uncomfortable. Other scars can even limit movement. Laser can be used, in some cases, to reduce the functional limitations caused by scar tissue.

Laser Treatment

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Laser
The carbon dioxide (CO2) laser beams enter the top skin layers reaching into the dermis. It disrupts the collagen in the scar and helps the scar tissue to remodel. The CO2 laser is used to release tightness over multiple sessions. We will also apply a steroid cream
(Triamcinolone) during the CO2 laser treatment to decrease scarring.

Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL)
The PDL is a non-invasive treatment that uses a focused beam of light. The light is converted into heat and, over time, remodels collagen within the scar. PDL is
used to reduce scar redness and enhance flexibility.

Laser Facts

Laser scar revision is not a cosmetic procedure. It is used to treat scars that affect your ability to move and function. You can start laser treatment as soon as 3 months after your wounds have healed. You may need to repeat the treatment every 6-8 weeks for a total of 3-6 sessions.

Both types of lasers can be used in the same session and work together. Laser treatment is used along with physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) and compression garments.

Side Effects

  • Mild blistering

  • Skin dryness

  • Bruising

  • Temporary color changes (should go away after a few weeks)

Medicine Interactions

Certain medicines and health conditions can be harmful with laser surgery. Talk to your surgeon about the medicines you are taking.

Before Treatment

Insurance Approval
You will need to get prior authorization from your insurance before scheduling your treatment.

Starting 1 month before treatment, you should use sunblock for any sun exposure.

Stop blood thinners unless you are told not to. Avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, Motrin®, fish oil, vitamin-E, omega-3, alcohol, and any other blood thinners. Use Tylenol® instead of other over the counter pain medicines.

Stop any medicines that cause your skin to be more sensitive to sunlight for 2 weeks before treatment unless you are told not to. Review all your medicines with your primary care provider.

Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before treatment. You can take approved medicines with a small sip of water the morning of your treatment.

Bring your compression garments with you. You will wear them right after treatment.

During Treatment

In most cases, you will have general anesthesia and a laryngeal mask airway (LMA) during treatment.

Eye Protection
We will use special eyewear to protect your eyes from the laser during the procedure.

Between Treatments

You will have therapy and compression PT/OT visit in between sessions to check your range of motion.

After Treatment

Pain is the same for both laser types and is like a mild sunburn. It may last a few hours to a few days. Use over the counter medicine and/or ice to the area.

Most people do not need antibiotics, opioid pain medicines, or dressings. If you have a history of cold sores, you may need an oral antiviral to help prevent them.

Most people resume their normal routine within 1 day.

Skin Care
Skin may appear red and/or swollen. Do not pick at crusting or scabbing. Wash and apply scent free lotion 2-3 times per day. Limit sun exposure and use sunblock for 8 weeks. For the first 2 weeks after treatment, the area will be sensitive. Avoid:

  • Scented lotions or soaps

  • Exfoliant creams

  • Acne creams or gels

  • Loofa sponges and aggressive scrubbing

  • Swimming pools and spas with chemicals/chlorine

  • Activities that cause extreme sweating

  • Shaving


Certain diseases and health conditions can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays and increase risk of blistering after treatment. Talk to your surgeon about any health conditions that you have.

When to Call

  • Severe pain

  • Signs of infection

  • Fever greater than 101° F

  • Any other concerns

  • If you think you are having a cold sore flare in the treated area

Who to Call

Burn and Wound Clinic
Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm
(608) 264-8040