Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Background. The CO2 laser is a common surgical modality in dermatology. To clarify conflicting reports on the histological healing properties of CO2 laser on incisional or ablative wounds, we have applied it in a miniature hairless porcine skin model at power settings similar to those used in clinical practice. Methods. Histological parameters of wound healing in skin incisions using the CO2 laser were compared with those using scalpel, hot scalpel, and electrosection, and in dermal ablation using CO2 laser, fraize, wire brush, and electrofulguration alone or with curettage. Results. In incisional wounds, tissue damage was most extensive in CO2 laser wounds, with delayed dermal healing and reepithelialization. In ablative wounds, CO2 laser caused a similar degree of tissue damage as did the electrosurgical modalities, and more damage than did fraize or wire brush. Reepithelialization was complete in CO2 laser, fraize, and wire brush wounds before electrosurgical wounds. Final histology of both incisional and ablative wounds at 6 weeks was similar with all surgical modalities. Conclusion. The CO2 laser and electrosurgery both produce greater focal tissue damage in incisional and ablative applications than the other modalities. Delayed epithelialization of the wound occurs with both modalities in incisional wounds but only with electrosurgery in ablative wounds. At 6 weeks, the appearance of the scar in all incisional and ablative modalities is similar grossly and histologically. Confirmation of these findings requires standardization of power density of the CO2 laser in incision and ablation.
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