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2020-01-07 Research Article

Radiofrequency vs scalpel incision for upper blepharoplasty: A clinicopathologic and photo comparison


Objective: The aim of this study is to compare scar appearance and the histopathological aspects of inflammatory response induced by the use of radiofrequency [RF] incision and a cold-blade scalpel incision in upper blepharoplasty surgery.

Methods: This is a comparative, prospective, double-blind study that recruited 10 Caucasian patients from Oculoplastic Sector of Ophthalmological Center of Minas Gerais (Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil) aged 60–70 years, Fitzpatrick skin types 3 and 4, with upper eyelid dermatochalasis and indication for upper blepharoplasty. These patients underwent upper blepharoplasty using RF incision in one eyelid (10 eyelids in total) and cold-blade incision in the contralateral eyelid (10 eyelids in total). The two techniques were compared for clinical scar appearance and histopathology of the excised tissue materials (i.e., upper eyelid skin). To evaluate clinical scar appearance, we employed two distinct methods: photo-documentation and statistical analysis of the assessment performed by two masked observers (oculoplastic specialists) that examined all patients during all the follow-up based on Vancouver scar scale criteria, which includes attributes related to scar’s vascularization, thickness, pigmentation, and elasticity. Follow-up was performed on days 7 (upon removal of the sutures), 30, 60, and 180 after surgery. After the follow-up period, the collected data were statistically analyzed by using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test.

Results: The eyelids incised with a scalpel displayed thicker scars (hypertrophic scars), which differed significantly only in the first month after surgery (p = 0.022). The two surgical techniques did not show statistically significant difference in vascularity, elasticity, or pigmentation of the scar during the follow up period (sixth postoperative month). Regarding the histopathological evaluation, the excised skin fragments exhibited the same patterns, except the cautery effect that was observed at the edges of the skin excised with RF, which showed 0.20–0.30-mm thick thermal damage.

Conclusion: The two techniques did not show statistically significant difference in terms of scar appearance after the sixth postoperative month.

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