Breaking Research

Scar before surgery

Before scar revision surgery, this patient has a noticeable forehead scar.

Botox fights more than wrinkles

Botulinum toxin—the same Botox used to treat facial wrinkles—helps facial wounds heal with less scarring, according to results of a study published in the August 2006 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

“This study is the first blinded trial demonstrating that injecting Botox (the trademark name for botulinum toxin) when we close a facial wound results in less visible scars,” said David Sherris, professor and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology at UB and senior author of the research.

Scar after surgery

Following surgery, doctors injected the area with Botox to prevent muscles from pulling the wound apart during the healing process.

“This study is the culmination of work that Dr. Holger Gassner and I started at Mayo Clinic about seven years ago,” Sherris says. “The reason this works is because wide scars are the result of the local muscles pulling the wound apart during the healing phase. Botulinum toxin temporarily weakens the surrounding muscles, thereby lessening the pull on the wound during the acute healing phase of the first two to four months.”

The trial involved 31 patients who had sustained wounds to the forehead or were having elective surgery to remove skin cancers of the forehead. This area was chosen because it is particularly susceptible to scarring, and because using Botox in this area has been shown to be safe and effective.

Scar six months later

Six months later, the scar treated with Botox is nearly imperceptible.

“This is the first medication found to minimize scarring,” says Sherris. “The result is of substantial interest in the field of scar treatment. When a wound occurs, especially on the face, people are always worried about the scar. We can now try to improve scars with these injections.”