The Role of Topical Vitamin E in Scar Management: A Systematic Review

Aesthet Surg J. 2016 Sep;36(8):959-65. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjw046. Epub 2016 Mar 14.


Background: The practice of prescribing vitamin E after surgery for scar prevention and treatment is widespread and increasingly popular among both the public and clinicians. However, very little evidence exists for this "ritual."

Objectives: This review was undertaken to critically analyze the current literature about the effect of vitamin E on treating scars.

Methods: The Cochrane, Medline, and PubMed databases were searched based on the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocols (PRISMA-P). The studies and levels of recommendation were graded according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) criteria. Only prospective studies were included.

Results: Only six studies met the inclusion criteria. Of these six included studies, three reported a significant improvement in the cosmetic appearance of scars when using vitamin E: one study used topical vitamin E in white children as monotherapy, and two studies used vitamin E in an adult population as combination therapy. The other three selected studies showed no significant improvement in scar appearance when using topical vitamin E as monotherapy. Two of the six included studies reported adverse events of vitamin E application: contact dermatitis and increased incidence of itching and rash.

Conclusions: We conclude that there is not yet sufficient evidence that monotherapy with topical vitamin E has a significant beneficial effect on scar appearance to justify its widespread use. Further prospective studies with vitamin E monotherapy and/or combination therapy are warranted to draw better conclusions regarding the value of vitamin E in the management of scar healing.

Level of evidence: 2 Therapeutic.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Cicatrix / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use*


  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamin E