Background: Chemical reconstruction of skin scars (CROSS) is a technique using high concentrations of trichloroacetic acid (TCA) focally on atrophic acne scars to induce inflammation followed by collagenisation. This can lead to reduction in the appearance of scars and cosmetic improvement.
Aims: The aim of this pilot study is to investigate the safety of the CROSS technique, using 100% TCA, for atrophic ice pick acne scars.
Settings and design: Open prospective study.
Material and methods: Twelve patients with predominant atrophic ice pick post acne scars were treated with the CROSS technique, using 100% TCA, applied with a wooden toothpick, at two weekly intervals for four sittings. Efficacy was assessed on the basis of the physician's clinical assessment, photographic evaluation at each sitting and patient's feedback after the fourth treatment, and at the three-month and six-month follow-up period, after the last treatment.
Results: More than 70% improvement was seen in eight out of ten patients evaluated and good results (50 - 70% improvement) were observed in the remaining two patients. No significant side effects were noted. Transient hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation was observed in one patient each. Physician's findings were in conformity with the patient's assessment. Three months after the last treatment, one patient noted a decrease in improvement with no further improvement even at the six-month follow-up period.
Conclusion: The CROSS technique with 100% TCA is a safe, efficacious, cost-effective and minimally invasive technique for the management of ice pick acne scars that are otherwise generally difficult to treat. In few patients the improvement may not be sustained, probably due to inadequate or delayed collagenisation.
Keywords: Chemical reconstruction of skin scars; ice pick acne scars; trichloroacetic acid 100%.