Meshkinpour et al (2005) examined the safety and effectiveness of the ThermaCool TC radiofrequency system for treatment of hypertrophic and keloid scars and assessed treatment associated collagen changes. Six subjects with hypertrophic and 4 with keloid scars were treated with the ThermaCool device: 1/3 of the scar received no treatment (control), 1/3 received one treatment and 1/3 received 2 treatments (4-week interval). Scars were graded before and then 12 and 24 weeks after treatment on symptoms, pigmentation, vascularity, pliability, and height. Biopsies were taken from 4 subjects with hypertrophic scars and evaluated with hematoxylin and eosin (H & E) staining, multi-photon microscopy, and pro-collagen I and III immunohistochemistry. No adverse treatment effects occurred. Clinical and H & E evaluation revealed no significant differences between control and treatment sites. Differences in collagen morphology were detected in some subjects. Increased collagen production (type III > type I) was observed, appeared to peak between 6 and 10 weeks post-treatment and had not returned to baseline even after 12 weeks. The authors concluded that use of the thermage radiofrequency device on hypertrophic scars resulted in collagen fibril morphology and production changes. ThermaCool alone did not achieve clinical hypertrophic scar or keloid improvement. They noted that the collagen effects of this device should be studied further to optimize its therapeutic potential for all indications.
Steroids have been long used in treatment of various skin disorders. Injecting steroids directly inside the keloid tissue, known as intra-lesional injection, is a commonly used method of treating small keloids. This treatment however, is only partially effective. Triamcinolone acetonide is the most commonly used drug for treatment of keloids. Dr. Sexton reported the efficacy of intra-dermal injection of this fluorinated prednisolone derivative in 1960 . Applied intralesionally, triamcinolone acetonide is one of the most widely used treatments for keloids, whether alone or in combination with another type of treatment. Steroid injections are not as effective as we would like them to be. About one third of patients give up treatment because of intense pain. About 15% of patients report worsening of their keloids following steroid injections.
For severe cases, the keloid can surgically excised and given x-ray treatments to the site immediately afterwards, usually the on the same day. This works in about 85% of the most severe cases. Electron beam radiation can be used, which will not go deep enough to affect internal organs. Orthovoltage radiation is more penetrating and slightly more effective. There have not been any reports of this causing any form of cancer in many years of use, but it is very expensive. Silicone pads and creams are sold over the counter for use on keloids. These do benefit hypertrophic scars but will not cure a true keloid. However, they can reduce pain, swelling and itching from a keloid. They usually take 3 months or more to work.