An online article published today by the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery reported that a study involving 7 patients with auricular keloids evaluated the effect of a pressure device as an add-on therapy for treating scar tissue buildup in the ear.
Study background information describes keloids as a kind of scar tissue that grows in people who are genetically predisposed to it. With the skin expanding beyond the original wound limits and impinging upon healthy skin, keloids intermittently cause itching, functional impairment, pain, restricted movement, uncontrolled growth, cosmetic nuisance, and adverse psychological effects. Treatments may involve wound compression, steroid injections, dressings, surgery, radiation, interferon, and medicated cream.
According to researchers, combination therapy is sometimes used to reduce the risk of a relapse. They believe that treating auricular keloids is a challenging task due to the intricate anatomy of the ear, starting from the cartilaginous skeleton below a fragile layer of skin right up to the earlobe. Steroids are very often the treatment of choice because auricular keloids might eat into the cartilage necessitating surgical removal of the scar tissue. Hence, investigators explored the possibility of using a new pressure device as a treatment for this condition.
The research team comprised Gregor M. Bran, M.D., from the University Hospital of Mannheim, Germany, and colleagues. From Dec. 2007 to Mar. 2009, they evaluated the effect of the auricular pressure device for treating auricular keloids in seven patients, four of whom were male with an average age of 22.6 years. Patients were provided the pressure device subsequent to surgical removal of keloids and administration of corticosteroid injections. They were instructed to wear the device for at least five nights in a week until there was no noticeable difference between the levels of scar tissue and healthy skin, or until the device failed to generate any improvements after two successive adjustments.
The device was custom-generated and had a patient-specific design made of a polymer called acrylate in two portions, which were positioned by magnets along the perimeter of the ear.
Amongst the patients treated with the device, neither of them reported any concerns nor discontinued or interrupted treatment. After 24 months of follow-up, no patients reported a reappearance of keloid. They were satisfied with the results, and had no complaints regarding an itch, pain, or abnormal sensations.
The researchers say, “Within this study we demonstrated the safety and efficacy of a combination of surgical excision and steroid injection with a newly designed, custom-fitted device for optimized pressure therapy of auricular keloids.”
Keloid treatment with pressure devices is not a new technique; however, the device used in this study is adequate to qualify as an ideal auricular pressure device. To conclude, researchers say larger, center-based experiments involving long-term follow up are required to enhance the understanding of device use in scar management.