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Silicone gel for skin healing


Study compares the effectiveness of petrolatum-based ointment vs. silicone gel for skin healing post fractional ablative erbium laser resurfacing.

Dr. Yeh

Many patients are instructed to use a petrolatum-based ointment for skin healing after laser resurfacing treatments. To add to a growing body of literature on the optimal treatment for skin healing, study authors recently examined and compared petrolatum‐based ointment and silicone gel - typically used on scars post wound healing -  according to a study published this year in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.

“Silicone gels have been used for many years to improve the appearance of hypertrophic, traumatic and surgical scars, but have only in recent years been used in post-laser treatment care,” says Lindsey Yeh, M.D., American Board of Dermatology board-certified dermatologist, Refined Dermatology, Los Gatos, Calif.

Dr. Yeh, and co- authors Noelani Gonzalez, M.D., and David J. Goldberg, M.D., studied ten patients who underwent fractional ablative erbium laser resurfacing in an open-label, split-face study. Patients were randomized to apply a petrolatum-based ointment or silicone gel on either the right or left side of the face, twice daily for seven days.

Study authors evaluated patients in person at days 7, 30 and 60 after the resurfacing treatment. During each evaluation, patients reported their recovery experience with regard to pain, itch, tightness and overall aesthetic outcome using the Global Aesthetic Improvement Scale and the Wrinkle Severity Rating Scale (WSRS).

Related: Are e-cigarettes as detrimental as traditional cigarettes in wound healing?

According to authors, all treatment areas healed without complications, and adverse events were similar.

By the 60-day evaluation, both the petrolatum-based and silicone dressing approaches essentially delivered the same healing results. However, patients who used the silicone gel experienced less post-treatment erythema and hyperpigmentation compared to those treated with the petrolatum-based ointment. Furthermore, the silicone gel dries to form a thin film on the skin that can be covered with sunscreen or cosmetics.

“The advantage of the silicone gel is that it dries quickly and other products such as sunscreen or makeup can be applied with greater ease over the gel,” says Dr. Yeh. “This allows patients to resume normal activities sooner. The silicone has also been shown to reduce the recovery time as well as symptoms such as itching and erythema after a treatment.”

Based on these findings, the authors conclude that silicone gel is an effective post-procedure care option after ablative fractional laser resurfacing.

“I do recommend silicone gel post-procedure; however, do always give patients the option of applying a petrolatum-based ointment,” says Dr. Yeh. “I sometimes also start with a petrolatum-based ointment for the first few days after the procedure and transition to the silicone gel. Patients who have had experience with both options post-procedure have often reported a preference for the silicone gel.”

Additional Reading:

Advancements in laser technology

HIFU offers visible improvements

The history of aesthetic lasers


The study was funded by Stratpharma, Basel, Switzerland.


Yeh LC, Gonzalez N, Goldberg DJ. Comparison of a novel wound dressing vs current clinical practice after laser resurfacing. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2019;18(4):1020-1024.

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