To measure and compare postoperative erythema after laser cutaneous resurfacing using 2 carbon dioxide laser systems and varying postoperative treatment methods.
Carbon dioxide laser systems are used as cutaneous resurfacing tools. The continuous-wave lasers have been associated with postoperative erythema, but the short-pulsed lasers reportedly result in less postoperative erythema because of shorter pulse durations. Although subjective evaluations of results have been published, a side-by-side comparison with digital photography has not been performed. Furthermore, postoperative treatment varies among physicians, and objective data about this treatment are scarce.
To compare postoperative erythema, we created 240 resurfacing wounds on 8 piglets with continuous-wave and short-pulsed lasers, using the manufacturers' suggested settings. By using photography and computed color analysis, we measured the resultant erythema after 1, 3, and 5 laser passes at days 0, 1, 3, 5, 7, and 14. Tissue samples were obtained for histological analysis on days 0, 3, 7, and 14.
We compared the resolution of erythema after postoperative treatment with petroleum jelly (Vaseline), a wound dressing (Vigilon), partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (Crisco), or a combination drug, bacitracin zinc–neomycin sulfate–polymyxin B sulfate on the wounds.
The short-pulsed carbon dioxide laser resulted in an average of 22% less erythema compared with the continuous-wave laser (P<.001). No statistically significant difference in erythema was found among the postoperative treatment methods (P>.10).
Compared with the continuous-wave laser, the short-pulsed carbon dioxide laser results in less postoperative erythema. However, the type of postoperative treatment has little, if any, beneficial effect for reducing erythema.