Can Photofacial Help Reduce Breast Reduction Scars?

I had a breast reduction done about 4 years ago and am left with scars on my breasts. I've been to a medical spa and they've said a series of photo facial will improve the appearance. Is this true? Can photo facial help improve the appearnce of scars left from surgery? If not, whats my best bet?

Doctor Answers 15

Breast Reduction Scars: Postoperative Correction Options

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Breast reduction scars are usually T-shaped with a vertical component and a large transverse component along the inframmary crease. These scars tend to present with three different problems:

  • Hypertrophic scars
  • Discoloration
  • Widening of scars

Treatment of these scars can be done with basic treatments to address the thickening and pigmentation of the scars. This can be performed with injections in the office or topical creams. If scars are widened, surgical revision may be required.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Breast Reduction and Scars?

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Unfortunately, 4 years after breast reduction,  your scars will be “mature”;  many modalities of treatment that might have some effect early on after surgery will likely not be effective at this stage. However, the use of steroid injection and/or scar revision may improve the appearance of the scars.

Consultation with a well experienced board-certified plastic surgeon may be helpful.

Improving breast reduction scars

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Today, there are many techniques for patients to help improve the characteristics of their scars. Patients may benefit from an excision of the scar and trading the thicker scar with a thinner less obvious one. Patients may also benefit from dermabrasion or laser treatment to these scars.
Your best bet is to work with the board-certified plastic surgeon who has a great deal of experience in breast reduction techniques and scar revision. They will help you choose the option that will improve your scars the most.

Photofacial will NOT Improve 4 year old Breast Reduction Scars

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All surgical scars are permanent and cannot be erased by any current treatments. However, the maturation process can last up to a year. Early in this process when the scars are still red due to blood vessel infiltration this coloration could be improved with IPL that targets blood vessels. Although the scars themselves will NOT be changed, the scars will reach their silvery mature appearance earlier. I suspect this medical spa was trying to perform another procedure on you referred in medical circles as a Wallet Biopsy. If the scars bother you after 4 years, consider having them surgically revised by a Plastic Surgeon.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Improving breast reduction scars

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The answer depends on what you want to improve. There are 3 things to consider that may need to be addressed: the color of the scar, whether the scar is flat or raised, and the texture of the scar. Is the scar red, white, raised, etc. If the scar is raised, steroid injections may help. If this fails to improve the scar, excision and reclosure can help; this is sometimes combined with LASER treatments beginning a few weeks after the surgery.

If the scar is a flat, white line, you can have this tatooed to match your normal skin color; this can be extremely successful. If the scar is red, dermatologists will often use a combination of lasers to improve the scar. Look for a plastic surgeon who is willing to work with a dermatologist for combined/coordinated treatment. A combination of treatments is often the most successful. Hope this helps.

Tracy Pfeifer, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

IPL not recommended for Breast Reduction scars

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There are several treatments that we think can or will help with reduction of surgical scars but the IPL is not one we recommend. It's substandard compared to the option. You should evaluate these before ever considering IPL:

  • Surgical revision for redness/brown and or texture
  • Pulsed Dye Lasers for redness
  • Q-switched lasers for brown
  • Steroid injections for texture(debulking of raised scars

While the IPL may have some positive benefit, it would be less than the alternatives noted above.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Fraxel re:store Dual will work for surgical scars, not IPL

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IPL will not work for surgical scars EXCEPT for the redness associated with a scar. To make the scar more smooth and smaller, a Fraxel re:store Dual or Fraxel re:pair is needed. This make cookie cutter holes in the scar microscopically. The holes are then filled in with newer, healthier skin. The 1927 part of the Dual has not been studied but my guess is that adding this will improve the scar even more. Much has been written and studied regard the re:store regarding scars. I have personally seen great results with the re:pair on the face. Problem with the re:pair is that you really need to not put anything on top of the area for several days. Best bet is the Dual.

Steven F. Weiner, MD
Panama City Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

Photofacial may help improve breast reduction scars

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Easy answer to give. Yes, Photofacial MAY help. But I would ask what guarantee is available if after the series of treatments you are not happy. You see after 4 years the surgery scars are mature and the immature collagen in the scars is matures now. So can light therapy help? Well I never say never, but I really doubt it. Thus, I would want an out if I was not happy. I agree with the previous expert to get a Plastic surgeon's opinion for possible scar revision.

Photofacial will probably not help with breast reduction scars

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You might want to have those scars evaluated for possible revision. Laser or light treatments will likely not make them much better although they usually get at least a little better with time.

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon


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Scarring is a response to injury. After breast reduction, the scars are the result of surgical trauma. Attacking a scar with a technique that creates further injury is illogical and does not work. If there are small visible blood vessels in and around the scar, they can be eliminated with a laser. But reducint the bulk of by other topical treatments, lasers or otherwise, will not work.

If the scars are mature and unacceptable, you might want to consider a formal scar revision.

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.