Laser therapy for scars, wrinkles safe for psoriasis

| Melissa Leavitt

If you’re trying to get rid of wrinkles or scars, laser resurfacing can seem like a magic wand. But the last thing you want is a new plaque magically appearing in their place.

A study published in April in the journal Dermatologic Surgery examined whether, for people with psoriasis, laser resurfacing may do more harm than good.

Injuries or trauma to the skin can trigger a new psoriasis flare or even lead to an onset of the disease. This process is known as Koebnerization.

Laser therapy works by removing layers of the skin, as explained by the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery. For this reason, researchers questioned whether Koebnerization may be a risk for psoriasis patients undergoing the treatment.

But according to the results of the study, people with psoriasis may have no need to worry. Researchers found that out of a group of 38 patients getting laser resurfacing, none experienced a worsening of their psoriasis.

The study examined the medical records of psoriasis patients receiving laser treatment for scarring, wrinkles, sun spots or other skin damage. The patients ranged in age from 23 to 71, with about half between the ages of 40 and 60.

No patients experienced Koebnerization following treatment, even those who underwent a series of treatments, researchers reported.

In addition, no patients got skin infections following treatment or took longer than usual to heal.

No complications seen with psoriasis treatments

These findings were important because they indicated that psoriasis treatments didn’t put patients at greater risk for complications from the procedure.

Generally, people stop taking biologics before and after any major surgery as a safety precaution, the researchers noted.

Because these medications affect the immune system, staying on the drug could interfere with the healing process.

But for the 24 patients in the study who were taking systemic treatments or biologics for their psoriasis, this was not an issue.

The National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board is currently in the process of writing guidelines for psoriatic disease patients on systemic therapy, including biologics, who are undergoing surgery.*

Recommendations for psoriasis patients undergoing laser therapy

The researchers did recommend some precautions.

People with psoriasis near the hairline should avoid laser procedures on their face, they suggested. In addition, a kind of treatment known as oral retinoids, including Soriatane (acitretin), should not be used for six months to a year before treatment.

Be sure to discuss your psoriasis and medications with your doctor before undergoing laser therapy.

* Editor's note: The guidelines were published in October 2016 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.






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