THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO KELOID REMOVAL
Human skin is a powerful organ. It covers the entire body and protects us from infection. But sometimes, it doesn’t always look the way we want it to. If you have a raised bump over a scar, you may feel self-conscious about your appearance. In some cases, it may cause pain, itching, or mobility issues. This bump is called a keloid and there are several ways to treat it.
WHAT IS A KELOID?
A keloid is a raised scar that is oftentimes larger than the wound that caused the scar in the first place. It can spread across the skin, looking like spilled water that has then hardened. Keloids are sometimes painful or itchy, but not always. If it grows and covers a large area or a joint, it may begin to hinder movement in that area.
HOW DID I GET IT?
Anyone can get a keloid, but not everyone does. Some people are simply more prone to keloids than others. Keloids are especially common in darker skin tones, such as those of African or Asian descent. A keloid can form from any wound that results in a scar. This can include ear piercings, cuts, surgery incisions, burns, or severe acne.
There are very rare cases when a keloid forms without the presence of a scar. These are called “spontaneous keloids”.
CAN I HAVE IT REMOVED?
Treatment of a keloid can help with pain, itchiness, or mobility issues caused by the keloid. Often, treatment means keloid removal, but this can be a highly involved process As the keloid was caused by a scar, removing it would create another scar which has the chance to turn into another keloid. For this reason, multiple treatments may be necessary to avoid the recurrence of keloids.
Some options for treatment include:
- Injections of corticosteroids or other medicines — A series of injections every 3-4 weeks can help shrink the scar. Patients often feel pain relief after the first injection, as well as a softening of the keloid. The average patient receives 4 total injections. Although 50%-80% of keloids will shrink after being injected, they tend to regrow within 5 years. For this reason, most dermatologists will recommend additional therapies.
- Surgical keloid removal — A common treatment is surgical keloid removal. Although it may seem permanent, nearly 100% of keloids will grow back after surgical removal. To reduce this risk, patients often receive a secondary treatment to avoid regrowth of the keloid after surgical removal.
- Pressure earring, dressing, or garment — Applying pressure to the area reduces blood flow which can help prevent a keloid from returning after surgical removal. This is 90% – 100% effective in preventing regrowth of the keloid. Dermatologists will recommend patients wear the device for up to 16 hours per day over a period of 6 to 12 months.
- Laser treatment — This therapy can shrink and fade the appearance of a keloid. It is often used in conjunction with another therapy such as injections or pressure garments.
- Silicone sheets and gels — Silicone can be used to help flatten a keloid. This is often used alongside pressure garments. It is recommended for daily use for 6 months.
- Cryotherapy — Best for small keloids, this treatment freezes the keloid from the inside without affecting the skin beneath it. This treatment can help reduce the size and hardness of the keloid. Best results are seen after a series of 3 treatments. Injections are often recommended as well.
- Radiation — After surgical keloid removal, radiation therapy can be recommended to help prevent regrowth of the keloid. It can begin immediately after surgery, the next day, or a week later. Although it can be used alone to reduce the size, best results are seen when used after surgical keloid removal.
- Ligature — In this treatment, a surgical thread is tied around the keloid and gradually cuts into it, causing it to fall off the skin. A new surgical thread will need to be tied around the keloid every 2-3 weeks.
There may be other types of treatments available. Schedule an appointment with a Sei Bello dermatologist to explore your options.
WHO CAN REMOVE A KELOID?
A dermatologist can diagnose and sometimes treat keloids. A diagnosis can be made by looking at the affected area. If the keloid looks like a worrisome skin growth, the dermatologist may take a small skin biopsy to have it examined under a microscope. Please note that keloids do not turn into cancer. A biopsy can be completed in a quick office visit, though full keloid removal may take several sessions.
Depending on the recommended treatment, you may continue to see your dermatologist. If surgical removal is the primary treatment, you will be referred to a surgeon for the procedure.
WHAT’S THE PROCESS TO HAVE IT REMOVED?
If surgical removal is recommended, your dermatologist will refer you to a surgeon. A keloid that is much larger than the original scar is a good candidate for removal. Depending on the size and area of the keloid you may receive a local anesthesia with an oral sedative, or general anesthesia. The surgeon will remove the keloid and reconstruct the healthy skin and tissue underneath with the goal of minimizing the appearance of a new scar, as this is the primary cause of keloids.
Your dermatologist will likely follow up with additional treatments to hinder the reappearance of the keloid. These can include injections, pressure garments, silicone sheets, or any of the treatments listed above.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The cost of keloid removal will vary based on the size, location, and treatment. Silicone gels can start at $19.99 and surgical removal can be upwards of $800. Injections can cost $85 to $100 per session.
If your keloid is causing pain or mobility issues, your insurance company may be willing to cover some or all of the cost of treatment. They may require your doctor to provide a written letter about your case and/or photos of the keloid.
If keloid removal is for cosmetic reasons, or if the keloid formed from a cosmetic surgery scar, you are more likely to have to pay for treatment out-of-pocket.
Check with your health insurance provider to see if they cover some or all of the cost of keloid removal.
WHAT ARE THE RESULTS LIKE?
Results will vary depending on the treatment(s) used and your skin’s reaction. It is common for keloids to return when only one treatment is used. For this reason, many dermatologists recommend more than one course of treatment. Although keloids may return, they are often less noticeable than the original keloid, which provides much relief for patients.
If you’re interested in keloid removal, please call Sei Bello today to schedule a consultation appointment with our dermatologists. We’ll be happy to meet with you to diagnose the keloid and recommend a course of treatment.