A systematic review evaluating the influence of incisional Negative Pressure Wound Therapy on scarring

Pieter R. Zwanenburg, Floyd W. Timmermans, Allard S. Timmer, Esther Middelkoop, Berend T. Tol, Oren Lapid, Miryam C. Obdeijn, Sarah L. Gans, Marja A. Boermeester

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Pathological scars can result in functional impairment, disfigurement, a psychological burden, itch, and even chronic pain. We conducted a systematic review to investigate the influence of incisional Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (iNPWT) on scarring. PubMed, EMBASE and CINAHL were searched for preclinical and clinical comparative studies that investigated the influence of iNPWT on scarring-related outcomes. Individual studies were assessed using the OHAT Risk of Bias Rating Tool for Human and Animal studies. The body of evidence was rated using OHAT methodology. Six preclinical studies and nine clinical studies (377 patients) were identified. Preclinical studies suggested that iNPWT reduced lateral tension on incisions, increased wound strength, and reduced scar width upon histological assessment. Two clinical studies reported improved patient-reported scar satisfaction as measured with the PSAS (1 year after surgery), POSAS, and a VAS (both 42, 90, and 180 days after surgery). Five clinical studies reported improved observer-reported scar satisfaction as measured with the VSS, SBSES, OSAS, MSS, VAS, and POSAS (7, 15, 30, 42, 90, 180, and 365 days after surgery). Three clinical studies did not detect significant differences at any point in time (POSAS, VAS, and NRS). Because of imprecision concerns, a moderate level of evidence was identified using OHAT methodology. Preclinical as well as clinical evidence indicates a beneficial influence of iNPWT on scarring. Moderate level evidence indicates that iNPWT decreases scar width and improves patient and observer-reported scar satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-19
Number of pages12
JournalWound Repair and Regeneration
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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