Researchers at Mayo Clinic have found that treating a facial wound in the early healing phase with botulinum toxin Type A improves the appearance of a scar later.

“Our findings show that botulinum toxin Type A offers an additional tool in preventing the formation of bad scars,” says Holger Gassner, MD, lead study researcher and former Mayo Clinic ear, nose, and throat surgical resident who is now a fellow in facial plastic surgery at the University of Washington. “It will give us the option to optimize healing of forehead wounds in the first place and possibly allow us to avoid later.”

The researchers found that an injection with botulinum toxin Type A early after the occurrence of a wound—such as trauma from a dog bite, motor vehicle accident or assault, or from a skin cancer biopsy or removal—paralyzes the region, creating a smooth surface in which the wound can heal. This prevents muscle movement from wrinkling the wound site, allowing for a flat surface for healing and leaving a smoother final scar. The same process also could work if an unsightly older scar is surgically removed, and then botulinum toxin Type A is injected into the wound at the time of the scar revision surgery.

According to David Sherris, MD, study investigator and former Mayo Clinic ear, nose, and throat specialist who is now professor and chair of Otolaryngology at the University of New York, Buffalo, side effects with the botulinum toxin Type A injections were minimal, including an occasional small bruise at the injection site or a headache. The largest potential risk in injecting this substance in the facial area would be transient paralysis of an important function. Patients in the trial also experienced positive side effects, such as a “good wrinkle benefit.”

[www.newswise.com, August 8, 2006]