Clinicians and researchers also hope that new research will help clinicians tailor treatment. “We’re actively researching a pathway that we think may be highly predictive for those patients who may or may not respond to the most common keloids treatment, which is steroid injection plus a minor surgical excision,” Dr. Jones said. “The important thing is that if we can identify the people who are less likely to respond to this treatment, we can better determine who will benefit from other treatments.”
Explore This IssueSeptember 2014
That insight would be most helpful, as right now there is no way, other than trial and error, for clinicians to know which treatment modality will be most effective for any particular keloid or patient. Yet it will likely be years until the current research yields actionable insights for keloid management.
“Unfortunately, although we have a better understanding of keloids in terms of the pathways involved in scarring and wound healing, we still have some difficulty in terms of translating that to medical management and improved outcomes,” Dr. Brissett said.
Unraveling the science of keloids, though, may ultimately revolutionize the field of facial plastics, because understanding keloids may provide insights into a process common to all human beings. “Part of what happens with the aging process is that we lose support tissue like collagen,” Dr. Jones said. “Keloids have an abundance of collagen and support tissue. Figuring out how to treat keloids, and why keloids do what they do, has the potential for identifying a way of combating aging as a result of the loss of collagen and structure.”
Jennifer L.W. Fink is a freelance medical writer based in Wisconsin.