Can a 12 Yr Old Cigarette Burn Be Removed?

When I was about 4 I got burned with a cigarette on my left nostril, according to my mother I kept picking at the scab and now it's black. I'm really self concious about it and even more so now that I'm a sophomore(16) soon to be junior in highschool.I'm scared I won't be able to have a "normal" life and that I'll continue to isolate myself from people with the exception of the small group of people that are around often enough that I'm comfortable with.

Doctor Answers 5

Do not use lasers for moles

While I agree with some of the posts to your question, I would like to strongly caution against the use of lasers for moles.  This is not an accepted treatment, although it may work, it has the potential to cover up a worse lesion, such as melanoma or basal cell carcinoma.

There have been published, scientifically sound studies demonstrating the ability to remove pigment with lasers and perhaps the moles themselves, however, I would strongly suggest that this is not something you pursue.  I know the physicians who have performed the research and they do not even offer this is a solution to their patients except in the extremely rare case of Giant Congenital Hairy Nevi.  A very rare condition.

For lesions that are pigmented on the face, I would recommend seeing a dermatologist to determine the exact cause of the pigmentation before jumping to treatment.  It could save your life.

Naples Dermatologic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Options for old, dark scar

As Dr. Tholen mentioned, this area would appear to be a nevi (birthmark) rather than a traumatic scar from a cigarette burn.  It may be that the burn occurred within the same time frame which led to this assumption.

We would agree that using a group of lasers called Q switched YAG would be a good starting point regardless if this is a result of a burn or if this is a nevi.  We believe that utilizing the most cost-effective and least invasive approach is in the patient's best interest.  Unfortunately, and contrary to what was previously indicated by panel members, treatment of these types of nevi with lasers is never quick or not necessarily cheap.  However, this approach would be far less expensive than surgery.  For these dark nevi, the goal is improvement (fading) vs. complete disappearance.

If indeed the discoloration is related to trauma (burn), then this condition would be far less challenging and lasers would still be an excellent option. 

Chemical peels would carry much more risk because of your skin type/color.  Q-switched lasers do not have any down time associated with them for either condition.

Please see the below link for further information on these types of treatments.



Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Dark spot on nose does not look like a burn scar.

I understand your concern about visibility of this pigmented area. Although this looks more like a congenital pigmented nevus (mole) than a burn scar (even one that was "picked'), the problem is how to remove this with the least scarring or residual damage to your nose. If this lesion was in almost any other area, simply excising it can carefully suturing the tissue layer together would be all that is necessary for a minimally-visible scar. But in this location on the nose, whether it's a mole, a burn scar, or a skin cancer, excision and reconstruction proves to be much more challenging here.

This is something every plastic surgeon deals with on a regular basis, and local nasolabial flap would be the choice that leaves the least scarring and gives the best tissue match. Things will look "rough" for a few weeks, but over time, and perhaps with a "touch-up" revision or dermabrasion, can be made even better. Skin graft from the preauricular (just in front of the ear) or post-auricular (just behind the ear) skin yields a pretty good match, and eliminates the donor scar for the nasolabial flap (but gives you a scar in front or behind the ear).

Two other considerations that preserve the ability to do either of the surgical choices already discussed include a phenol peel to depigment this area, or using a tattoo removal laser to remove (or lighten) the color. Each of these is easy, quick, cheap, and if it doesn't work well, you can still go on to one of the other more drastic choices. I have used phenol peels on congenital nevi of the eyebrow and areas such as yours where excision is too drastic an option. Results have ranged from OK to great, but in all cases, nothing is lost other than a little time and healing. Laser treatments are more costly and may take several sessions at one month intervals, but if a black tattoo can be removed, this certainly could also! Consider either of these particularly if you find the surgical choices unappealing. Good luck!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 255 reviews

Nasal Scar Revision

Dear =) in Newark, NJ:

More information on scar revision is provided on the link below (click "more"). It is possible to remove the area of scar, but the hole left behind would need to be filled. The most common ways this is reconstructed is with either a local flap (borrowing nearby skin) or a skin graft (borrowed from somewhere else).

A local flap has the advantage of the best possible contour and color match with the skin on the nose. A skin graft may be a slightly more yellow color because the skin becomes more yellow the lower on the body it is located. The best skin graft color match is the skin on the nose. Nearby donor sites include the crease in front of the ear, followed by the skin behind the ear which also has a more hidden donor site scar.

Many plastic surgeons deal with this type of problem every day when they treat skin cancer, so options are available for you.

Joseph Mele, MD
Walnut Creek Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Scar Removal

Have a consult with a Board Certified Dermatologist and Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and look at your alternatives from a skin graft to bleach cream. Thank you for your question and good luck with everything.

Vivek Bansal, MD
Danville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.