Beneficial effects of pressure therapy for hypertrophic scars have been reported, but the mechanisms of action are not fully understood. This study evaluated elastin and its contribution to scar pliability. The relationship between changes in Vancouver Scar Scale (VSS) scores of pressure-treated scars and differential regulation of elastin was assessed. Hypertrophic scars were created and assessed weekly using VSS and biopsy procurement. Pressure treatment began on day 70 postinjury. Treated scars were compared with untreated shams. Treatment lasted 2 weeks, through day 84, and scars were assessed weekly through day 126. Transcript and protein levels of elastin were quantified. Pressure treatment resulted in lower VSS scores compared with sham-treated scars. Pliability (VSS P) was a key contributor to this difference. At day 70 pretreatment, VSS P = 2. Without treatment, sham-treated scars became less pliable, while pressure-treated scars became more pliable. The percentage of elastin in scars at day 70 was higher than in uninjured skin. Following treatment, the percentage of elastin increased and continued to increase through day 126. Untreated sham scars did not show a similar increase. Quantification of Verhoeff-Van Gieson staining corroborated the findings and immunofluorescence revealed the alignment of elastin fibers. Pressure treatment results in increased protein level expression of elastin compared with sham-untreated scars. These findings further characterize the extracellular matrix's response to the application of pressure as a scar treatment, which will contribute to the refinement of rehabilitation practices and ultimately improvements in functional and psychosocial outcomes for patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine