What Laser Would Be Best for Surgery Incision Scars?

I had back surgery about a year ago, and have a scar running down my back and was wondering which laser would be best for fading the redness or fading the scar altogether. I know the IPL is good for redness, but would it be better to try something like the Erbium or C02 laser? Your input is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Doctor Answers 4


If you have a thickened scar the best treatment is with localised steroid injections which will reduce the scar and take the itching away

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 14 reviews


From what you describe, you would probably need a combination approach to treat this scar.  First, I would use a vascular laser to treat the redness-there are several different ones which could be used.  Then, for any unsightly scarring, you could consider a series of Fraxel laser treatments which have been very helpful reducing surgical scars.  Good luck.

Peter J. Jenkin, MD, FAAD
Seattle Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

PDL likely first-line

We have many options available for treating scars including laser, topical or injected steroids, and patience.  Since your scar is now a year old, I don't expect it to improve much more on it's own so I would consider laser, steroid or both depending on the appearance of the scar.  In my experience raised red scars respond best to pulsed dye laser (PDL).  Most of the improvement occurs with the first two treatments.   If a thickened scar is not significantly improved after two treatments, then I would consider injection of steroid into the scar just after PDL treatment.  Flat red scars will respond best to PDL alone or IPL.  Nonablative fractionated lasers (Fraxel or 1550nm devices) have also been shown to be effective in improving the color and thickness of scars; this is also the only device that improves the pale white appearance that scars develop over time.  Erbium or CO2 resurfacing would not be my first-line choice. 

Michael Contreras, MD
Greenwood Village Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Lasers for scar reduction

There are many good lasers that can help improve the appearance of scars. I would recommend you see a dermatologist who has advanced training in laser surgery as they can best evaluate your particular scar. I would seek out a dermatologist that has completed a fellowship in laser surgery in particular. Every scar is different and in my opinion there is no cookie cutter approach to treating scars. Redness would be best helped by a vascular laser such as a pulsed dye laser. I actually don't think an IPL device would be the best for fading redness based on my experience. There are other lasers which can also help blend and improve the appearance and those can include the fractionated eribium or CO2 lasers. Good luck. 

Omar Ibrahimi, MD, PhD
Stamford Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 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.