Stanford Study Shows Dressing Can Reduce Surgical Scars

A new device has been developed by researchers at Stanford University which, they claim, can help reduce scarring of surgical incisions.

At Stanford University, researchers have developed a wound dressing that could help minimize the scarring of surgical wounds. According to their report, the novel device could be a big help to patients who have undergone surgery.

Results of preliminary tests on animals are said to be "stunning" according to one of the lead authors, Michael Longaker MD MBA. "It was a surprisingly effective treatment", he says.
"This work actually started 20 years ago when I was an intern at Massachusetts General Hospital," said lead author Geoffrey Gurtner, MD, professor and associate chair of surgery. "I realized early on that we were not going to solve the problem of scarring with current surgical tools and techniques."

"We were talking about our respective research," Reinhold Dauskardt said. He is a co-author of the study and a professor of materials science and engineering in the School of Engineering "Geoff had a lot of experience in wound healing and was thinking about factors that led to scarring. He said, 'If only we could keep in check the mechanical forces acting on the wound.' I had multiple programs on skin biomechanics and transdermal-drug delivery. I said, 'I think I can do that.'"

He remembered this from one of their prior meetings which eventually lead to the creation of the dressing in his laboratory which they called the "stress shielding device". The thin silicone plastic is applied over the wound after the sutures are removed. The material sticks to the skin because of an adhesive. It allows for uniform compression on the wound when it contracts.

"Scar tissue is one of the problems that patients face after surgery", says Dr Nicholas Vendemia of "Major plastic surgery such as tummy tucks may leave large scars which patients are always worried about."

In trials conducted on pigs, which have skin closely resembling the structure of humans, the scars of a 1-inch incision are reduced six times than the control group. When it the stress shielding device was tested on female patients who have had tummy tucks, the results showed significant difference between the treated sides of the abdominal scar compared to the non-treated sides.

The researchers are hopeful with this innovative dressing but they caution that these are only preliminary trials.
According to the authors of the study, "Larger clinical trials are being planned to include greater ethnic diversity within the patient population and to determine the optimal range of stress-shielding forces for anatomic region- and dimension-specific wounds."