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Study: Argon-based intralesional cryotherapy for keloid scars

Intralesional (IL) cryotherapy, the freezing of scars internally, has proved effective in treating keloid scars. A team of researchers in The Netherlands, however, has released the results of a study suggesting that a variation of this therapy may be even more effective.

The study, led by Michiel C.E. van Leeuwen, M.D., of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, notes that most of the devices used in this procedure are based on the Dewar liquid-nitrogen, which has a limited freezing capacity. The study also notes that Argon gas-based systems, commonly used in oncologic surgery, are a step up, as they ensure more accurate, controllable freezing — but this technique has never been used for treating keloid scars.

With this in mind, the researchers evaluated an argon gas-based system for the treatment of keloids in a patient population that included all Fitzpatrick skin types. The 25 patients had a total of 30 keloid scars and were treated with an argon gas-based device called Seednet, manufactured by the Israeli firm Galil Medical. Scar quality and possible scar recurrence were assessed before treatment and at six and 12 months post-treatment to determine scar color, elasticity and volume.

The 12-month follow-up revealed an overall volume reduction of 62 percent. Complaints of pain and itching were alleviated and scar quality had improved, based on the Patient and Observer Scar Assessment Scale. Scar pigmentation recovered in 62 percent of all keloid scars within 12 months. Five of 30 scars (17 percent) recurred within 12 months — three of those five had previously been treated with liquid nitrogen-based IL cryotherapy. Both recurrent and persistent hypopigmentation were mainly seen in African-American patients.

“This is a novel, effective, non-surgical way to treat keloid scars, with low recurrence rates post-operative,” Dr. van Leeuwen tells Cosmetic Surgery Times. “There is significant reduction of complaints of pain and pruritus with intralesional cryotherapy.”

The study appears in the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery.

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