Ablative fractional laser treatment of hypertrophic burn and traumatic scars: a systematic review of the literature

Brittany Buhalog, Farah Moustafa, Lisa Arkin, Kachiu Lee, Katherine Siwy, Matthias Donelan, C. Scott Hultman, Peter R. Shumaker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Hypertrophic scars (HTS) following burns and other trauma and are associated with significant functional and psychosocial impairment. Ablative fractional lasers (AFLs) are increasingly being applied in the treatment of HTS supported by a rapidly expanding multidisciplinary base of literature. The multidisciplinary authors sought to evaluate existing literature, provide context and identify gaps, and make recommendations for a path forward. A systematic review was conducted to identify literature pertinent literature through September 2019. Retrospective cohort, randomized controlled trials, quasi-randomized controlled trials, observational prospective cohort, or case series with five or more subjects with hypertrophic scars incurred from burns and related trauma were considered. Twenty-two of the 23 evaluated studies documented statistically significant and/or meaningful qualitative improvements in nearly all outcome measures. Adverse events were generally infrequent and minor. Significant heterogeneity was observed among the studies included in this systematic review, precluding metaanalysis of pooled data. There is abundant existing literature on the use of AFLs in the management of HTS but study heterogeneity limits generalizability. Future studies should prioritize standardized protocols including assessments of function and quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-317
Number of pages17
JournalArchives of Dermatological Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Fractional
  • Hypertrophic
  • Laser
  • Review
  • Scar
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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